|Foster was one of the easiest selections on this list. (US Presswire)|
With the first preseason game in the books and the regular season just a month away, we've put together the Eye on Football 2012 All-AFC South Division Team. You can see our other all-division teams here.
QB: Matt Schaub -- This selection is not as easy as it first appeared. The Texans made the playoffs for the first time in their history (and won a game) last year even though Schaub missed the final eight games of the season. Meanwhile, Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck could become one of the league’s great quarterbacks, moving Schaub out of this spot in the next few years.
RB: Arian Foster -- He’s been fantastic the past two seasons, combining for 2,840 yards and 26 touchdowns, and he’s a big reason the Texans have gone from also-ran to defending AFC South champs. Foster, who came into the league as an undrafted free agent, has gone vegan for this season. Now, we’ll get to see the power of quinoa.
RB: Chris Johnson -- Maybe he hasn’t been CJ2K the past two years and sure, we thought there was a chance last season that he could be washed up, but Johnson had a decent second half of last season and still topped 1,000 yards. He says he’s hungry this season. He’ll need to be.
WR: Andre Johnson -- Because of his disconcerting injury problems from 2011, we have to begin to wonder whether Johnson will ever return to the 100-catch, 1,500-yard, eight-touchdown pass-catcher he used to be. Here’s betting a healthy 2012 will make people remember he’s one of the best in the game.
WR: Reggie Wayne -- When Peyton Manning is throwing passes your way, it’s easy to see how he could accumulate 80-catch years in the last six years of healthy Manning era in Indianapolis. But the fact that Wayne came up with 75 receptions with the likes of Curtis Painter, Kerry Collins and Dan Orlovsky winging the ball at him last year reminds us that he’s still one heck of a 33-year-old receiver.
TE: Marcedes Lewis – We were ready to watch Lewis become one of the game’s top tight ends following his 2010 season (58 catches, 700 yards, 10 touchdowns). But he backtracked last season -- he says that happened because of personal issues. More disconcerting, though, is that he didn’t show up at training camp this year in top shape.
TE: Coby Fleener -- We thought about putting Houston’s Owen Daniels in this spot, but in Houston’s run-heavy offense, he probably won’t be as important as Fleener will be to Indianapolis and his old college teammate, Andrew Luck.
LT: Duane Brown -- He might be the best left tackle you don’t know about. Heck, he might be the best left tackle in the league. Our CBSSports.com colleague Pete Prisco thought so highly of Brown that he ranked him the 22nd-best player in the NFL (and the top tackle).
LG: Steve Hutchinson -- A five-time All Pro guard with the Vikings, Hutchinson was a cap casualty in the offseason, and the Titans gratefully scooped him up. Already, offensive coordinator Chris Palmer considers Hutchinson the glue of the offensive line. Jake Locker and Chris Johnson hope he’s right.
C: Chris Myers -- If he’s not the best center in the game -- and we think he probably is -- he’s almost certainly the best run-blocker. He was a free agent in the offseason, but the Texans showed how much he means to them by signing him a four-year, $25 million deal that gave Myers $14 million guaranteed. He is yet another reason why the Texans could be special this year.
RG: Uche Nwaneri -- Combined with center Brad Meester, who’s a decent-enough center (even if he’s not in Myers’ class), Nwaneri and Meester provide strong interior line play for Maurice Jones-Drew. Nwaneri isn’t a star, but he’s certainly a solid player.
RT: David Stewart -- He’s one of the most unappreciated right tackles in the game. He’s been sturdy during his six-year career (he’s missed only four games), and after a bit of a hiccup in 2010, Pro Football Focus ranked him the best right tackle in the game last season.
LE: J.J. Watt -- He’s obviously impressed Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who’s predicted a Hall of Fame bust for Watt. In his first season in the league, Watt recorded 5.5 sacks, and he’s just one cog in a young Houston defense that’s looked awfully dangerous.
DT: Jurrell Casey-- The Titans drafted him in the third round of the 2011 draft, so if you’re not familiar with him, it’s understandable. But he was tough on run defense in his rookie season, and he managed to record 50 tackles from the interior line while starting 15 games.
DT: Terrance Knighton -- There aren’t many standouts at this position in this division, so we’ll give it to Knighton based on what he can become. He showed up to training camp weighing less than 330, lighter than what the team even asked of him, and he’s in a contract year, meaning there’s a strong chance we’ll see the best of Knighton this year.
RE: Kamerion Wimbley -- The Titans were so desperate to sign a legit pass rusher, they gave Wimbley a five-year, $35 million deal. And Wimbley is pretty darn good, as he’s proved the past two years in Oakland.
OLB: Robert Mathis -- For nine years, Mathis has been one of the most feared pass-rushing ends in the game. Sometimes, he was overshadowed by Dwight Freeney, but he got a $36 million contract from the Colts in the offseason. He’ll play outside linebacker this season, but chances are that opposing quarterbacks will see plenty of Mathis in the backfield.
ILB: Paul Posluszny -- His counterpart in Houston, Brian Cushing, gets more publicity, but Posluszny has been more consistent throughout his career. He’s recorded at least 110 tackles in each of the past four seasons, including a ridiculous 151 (third-best in the league) with Buffalo in 2010. Cushing’s team will be more successful this season, but Posluszny very well could play better.
OLB: Dwight Freeney -- Colts opponents, once again, will have to deal with the combination of Freeney and Robert Mathis rushing the passer. Once again, it will not be pleasant.
CB: Johnathan Joseph -- One of the top goals of newly-named defensive coordinator Wade Phillips last year was to improve what had been a horrendous pass defense. Joseph, a big free-agent signing from Cincinnati, certainly helped the pass defense go from No. 32 in the league to No. 2 last year.
SS: Dawan Landry -- Coming off his career year in 2010, Landry signed with Jacksonville and put together the second-best season of his career last year. He’s perhaps the best run-stopping safety in the league.
FS: Michael Griffin -- Instead of franchise tagging Cortland Finnegan, Tennessee decided it needed to keep Griffin. And then the Titans gave him a $35 million extension.
K: Rob Bironas -- In 2010, Bironas made 92.3 percent of his kicks. In 2011, he hit 90.6 percent. He’s one of the best in the league and certainly the tops in the division.
P: Pat McAfee -- When he’s not swimming in a city canal in the middle of the night or tearing it up on Twitter, McAfee is a standout, breaking the Colts team record last year with a 46.6 net yard average. Considering he had torn meniscus in his kicking leg, that was fairly remarkable.
KR/PR: Marc Mariani -- He was outstanding in 2010, but he slipped a bit last year -- he says it’s because he was dealing with a high ankle sprain. If that’s the case, the Titans should get better results from him this season.
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