Houston Texans ’09 Quick Hits

July 19, 2009 by

Snappy one-liner analysis on every significant Texans player and offseason move.

Houston Texans

Predicted: 2nd

2008: 8-8 (3rd AFC South)

Head Coach: Gary Kubiak (4th year)

Roster Quick View (*new veteran, **rookie)

Offense (coordinator: Kyle Shanahan)

QB: Matt Schaub

Entering the all-important third season as a starter. Fine mechanics and grasp of this offense, though staying healthy and protecting the football have been issues.

RB: Steve Slaton

Too delicate to be a workhorse, but certainly can improve on his rookie-leading 1,282 yards rushing. Is ideal for this one-cut system.

RB: Chris Brown

Upright running style has riddled his career with injuries. Texans need to find a more reliable option here.

FB: Vonta Leach

Stellar lead-blocking makes him the unsung hero of this offense.

WR: Andre Johnson

It’s chic right now to fawn over Larry Fitzgerald, but it’s this man who’s the best wideout in football.

WR: Kevin Walter

Fundamentally exquisite No. 2 who takes full advantage of the attention defenses give to Andre Johnson.

WR: David Anderson

A poor man’s Kevin Walter. Coaches appreciate his consistent improvement.

TE: Owen Daniels

Wants a long-term contract after recording 70 catches for 862 yards in ’08. Has a case, but it wouldn’t hurt to turn in one more solid season.

TE: Anthony Hill**

Fourth-rounder is a Houston native and considered by many to be the best blocking tight end of the ’09 class.

LT: Duane Brown

Survived his rookie season, but just barely. Clearly has first-round talent. Should continue to progress as he gets nastier and fundamentally more comfortable.

LG: Chester Pitts

Has missed only one series in this franchise’s history. Coming off arguably his best season as a pro.

C: Chris Myers

Lack of power can cause problems, but his mobility is marvelous. A great fit in this zone system; should hold off third-round rookie Antoine Caldwell.

RG: Mike Brisiel

Not always pretty, but he’s sound in pass protection and capable of getting at least a little movement on the ground.

RT: Eric Winston

People hardly noticed him in 2008. That’s a good thing.

6 OL: Rashad Butler

Solid, well-sized athlete who has more skill but less experience than fellow backup Adrian Jones.

Defense (coordinator: Frank Bush)

LDE: Antonio Smith*

High-octane run-stopping savant who can also slide to DT in passing situations.

NT: Travis Johnson

A fraud. The non-achieving former first-round pick shouldn’t be on the team – let alone starting.

DT: Amobi Okoye

New defensive line coach Bill Kollar is expected to ride him until he’s a more explosive one-gap shooter. Plays hard, but technique can be whimsical.

RDE: Mario Williams

No major weakness.

3 DT: Deljuan Robinson

Former undrafted free agent shows great energy against the run and a unique ability to force his way into the backfield.

3 DE: Tim Bulman

Athletic edge-rusher who will share snaps with second-round rookie Connor Barwin.

SLB: Brian Cushing**

Intelligent, coachable first-round rookie who is expected to coagulate this front seven.

MLB: DeMeco Ryans

Going only off of last year’s film, he’s arguably the most overhyped player in football. Must play with more power and bring action closer to the line of scrimmage.

WLB: Xavier Adibi

Injuries and lack of size makes his presence in starting lineup somewhat puzzling. Improved as a rookie, but Zach Diles, or perhaps even Cato June, would be better here.

4 LB: Zac Diles

Extremely active, but aggression tends to compromise too much of his patients. Still, if broken leg is healed, he deserves to start.

CB: Dunta Robinson

Extreme quickness allows him to neglect certain fundamentals and still flourish. Furious about getting franchised, but before that, he had turned down $23 million in guarantees.

CB: Jacques Reeves

Can start, but there’s a reason teams love to throw at him.

NB: Fred Bennett

Fluid enough to be an upper echelon corner, but inconsistency drives coaches crazy.

SS: Dominique Barber

Sixth-round pick a year ago captured veteran Nick Ferguson’s starting job. He should be at least average in coverage.

FS: Eugene Wilson

Offers decent cover skills from his days at CB. Plus, he’s not a bad open-field tackler.

6 DB: Antwaun Molden

Third-round rookie in ’08 is said to have made good strides this past offseason.

Special Teams

K: Kris Brown

One of two original Texans still on the roster. Just signed a four-year extension.

P: Matt Turk

Has been stellar for 14 years, but at 39, his power is beginning to wane.

RS: Jacoby Jones

Is liable to fumble or score on any given return.

Offseason Quick Glance

Draft

RD PK (OVR) NAME POS SCHOOL

1 15 (15) Brian Cushing OLB USC

2 14 (46) Connor Barwin DE Cincy

3 13 (77) Antoine Caldwell C Alabama

4 12 (112) Glover Quin S New Mexico

4 22 (122) Anthony Hill TE NC State

5 16 (152) James Casey TE Rice

6 15 (188) Brice McCain CB Utah

7 14 (223) Troy Nolan S Arizona St

KEY PLAYERS ACQUIRED

DT Shaun Cody: UFA Lions; 3 yrs, terms unknown.

LB Buster Davis: FA Colts; $445,000/1 yr.

FB Boomer Grigsby: FA; terms unknown.

LB Cato June: FA Buccaneers; $1.5M/1 yr, $500,000 SB.

QB Dan Orlovsky: UFA Lions; $9.15M/3 yrs, $2.4M SB.

DE Antonio Smith: UFA Cardinals $35.5M/5 yrs, $12.5M guaranteed.

KEY PLAYERS LOST

S C.C. Brown: UFA Giants; $1.4M/1 yr, $400,000 SB/$300,000 base guarantee.

S Will Demps (released).

CB DeMarcus Faggins: UFA Titans; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

RB Ahman Green (released).

LB Morlon Greenwood (released).

QB Sage Rosenfels (traded Vikings).

OT Ephraim Salaam (released).

DE Anthony Weaver (released/failed physical).

Analysis

In a clear sign of progress for this late-blooming (or yet-to-bloom) franchise, Houston had the luxury of using a second-and fourth-round pick to add depth. The second-rounder is center Antoine Caldwell, who will back up the ascending Chris Myers. Caldwell also logged some reps at guard at Alabama. His versatility will be a plus. He may push for a starting job at some point if Myers doesn’t improve his power. The fourth-rounder is TE Anthony Hill, a 6’5”, 262-pound blocking specialist who will replace Mark Bruener. If Hill doesn’t work out, then fifth-rounder James Casey (6’3”, 246) could be given a shot.

The most important changes for the Texans come on defense. In order to improve upon a ranking of 22 from last year, Houston promoted Frank Bush to coordinator and prioritized the front seven. Last season’s linebacking corps was feeble at best (injuries were a factor). With declining veteran Morlon Greenwood being released, either stout-tackling Zac Diles or second-year pro Xavier Adibi will take over on the weak side. Ex Colt/Buc Cato June is also a possibility.

Internally, Bush campaigned to draft SLB Brian Cushing in Round One. Cushing’s arrival should help MLB DeMeco Ryans regain his ’06/’07 form.

Houston also needed to find a respectable DE to help take some of the attention off Mario Williams. (Anthony Weaver was a non-impact player for much of 2008.) The Texans drafted über-athletic Connor Barwin in the second round. He’ll come off the bench behind former Cardinal Antonio Smith, a high-motor run-defender who can slide to DT on third down.

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