In a span of four weeks last season, the Texans lost two second-round draft picks to season-ending ankle injuries.
Running back Ben Tate, a 2010 second-rounder from Auburn, was hurt in the Texans’ preseason opener at Arizona. Defensive end Connor Barwin, a 2009 second-rounder from Cincinnati, was hurt in the regular-season opener against Indianapolis.
Tate was medically cleared in February, meaning he’ll be ready for full contact whenever football resumes. Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison discussed his 2011 expectations for Tate at the Texans’ Charity Golf Classic on Monday.
“We’re going to give him the ball a few times and see how he does,” Dennison said. “We’re looking at it as he ended up with a redshirt year. He still has the ability that we liked to get him in the second round. We’ll take some turns. Obviously, Arian’s (Foster) our number one guy, and then we’ll go from there.”
Barwin led all rookie defensive ends with 4.5 sacks in 2009, and Texans coaches thought he was primed for a breakout sophomore season. He’ll compete for playing time at strongside linebacker in 2011 with another second-round pick, rookie Brooks Reed, under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
“Connor Barwin certainly has a lot of potential,” Phillips said on Monday. “Missing a year has hurt him, but he’s got ability to rush the passer, and that’s what we like. Anybody that plays outside ‘backer for us, we want him to be able to rush the passer. That’s going to be a key thing.”
Tags: Ben Tate, Connor Barwin, Rick Dennison, Wade Phillips
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