Zaire Franklin dismisses Titans, talks smack about Texans QB C.J. Stroud

Colts linebacker Zaire Franklin played 100 percent of the defensive snaps last season, made a career-high 179 tackles and earned a three-year extension worth $31.26 million this offseason.

Franklin, though, has yet to see the Colts win a division title in six seasons.

In that time, the Texans have won it three times, including last season, the Titans twice and the Jaguars once. The Colts have not won the AFC South since 2014.

Franklin dismisses the Titans as a contender this season, pointing to quarterback C.J. Stroud and the Texans as the Colts’ biggest threat.

“No, because I already smacked them a couple times,” Franklin said on the Green Light with Chris Long podcast, via NFL Media, when asked if he had “beef” with the Titans. “It really be Houston. I’m not going to lie to you, I like C.J., man. I support all our young brothers at quarterback, but C.J., he done said a lot of wild stuff to me in our run-ins. . . . He is feeling himself. . . . I need to see that boy again.”

The Texans and Colts split their two games last season, but Houston won the regular-season finale 23-19 to clinch the division.

Franklin took offense with how Stroud characterized the season series. Stroud threw for 648 yards and four touchdowns against the Colts, with 348 yards coming in a Week 2 loss in which he was sacked six times.

The Colts led the Week 2 game 28-7 at halftime and 31-10 after three quarters before winning 31-20.

“Well, we were talking, and you know how the Super Bowl is at Radio Row, he had the XM Radio right before me, and he was on there talking about how he cooked the Colts in both games,” Franklin said. “I saw him, and I pulled him aside and was like, ‘You know when you played Anthony [Richardson before he was injured], it was like 28-7 in the second quarter. We were kind of blowing you out. . . . Yeah, you threw for 300 yards but. . . .'”

For all Stroud accomplished last season in winning offensive rookie of the year honors, he has yet to beat Richardson, as Franklin pointed out to him. Richardson, the No. 4 overall pick in 2023, played only four games before needing surgery to repair his right shoulder.

“I was like, ‘If that’s what you consider a cooking with the loss, I mean congratulations,” Franklin said. “Then, I have to remind him as well that he’s never beaten Anthony.”

Franklin isn’t wrong, but his quotes are likely to add even more fuel to the AFC South rivalry.

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