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National Signing Day and the Texans

Posted by drewdougherty on February 6, 2013 – 4:43 pm

ReedThe frenzied morning of National Signing Day is now behind us. A few thousand high school football players signed National Letters of Intent, faxed them in, and joined programs across the nation today.

What’s this have to do with the Texans? Not much in the short term.

But looking back a few years (a few more in some cases) is kind of fun, because everybody on the roster played college ball somewhere, and went through the drill so many prep stars went through about 8 hours or so ago.

For example: wide receiver DeVier Posey was once a 5-star (according to the Rivals.com ranking system) recruit out of Cincinnati’s LaSalle H.S. when he signed on to be a Buckeye at Ohio State. On the other end of the spectrum, 2012 AP Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt was quick to point out this afternoon on twitter that the rankings don’t always matter.

This slideshow covers a wide swath of the team, including some reserves. But going across the starting depth-chart, and keeping in mind that the Rivals’ ranking database only goes back to 2002, here’s how the Texans’ starters stacked up on the first Wednesday in February.

OFFENSE

RB Arian Foster: 3-star recruit from Mission Bay H.S. in San Diego, CA. Signed with Tennessee.

LT Duane Brown: 3-star recruit from Hermitage H.S. in Richmond, VA. Signed with Virginia Tech.

RG Brandon Brooks: 3-star recruit from Riverside University H.S. in Milwaukee, WI. Signed with Miami (OH).

RG Ben Jones: 3-star recruit from Bibb County HS in Centreville, AL. Signed with Georgia.

RT Derek Newton: 2-star recruit from Hinds Community College in Utica, MS. Signed with Arkansas State.

DEFENSE

DE Antonio Smith: 3-star recruit from Northeast Oklahoma A&M J.C. Signed with Oklahoma State.

DE J.J. Watt: 2-star recruit from Pewaukee H.S. in Pewaukee, WI. Signed with Central Michigan (later transferred to Wisconsin).

OLB Connor Barwin: 2-star recruit from University of Detroit Jesuit H.S. Signed with Cincinnati.

OLB Brooks Reed: 3-star recruit from Sabino H.S. in Tuscon, AZ. Signed with Arizona.

ILB Brian Cushing: 4-star recruit from Bergen Catholic H.S. in Oradell, NJ. Signed with Southern California.

CB Kareem Jackson: 4-star recruit from Fork Union Military Academy, VA. Signed with Alabama.

CB Johnathan Joseph: 3-star recruit from Coffyville Community College, KS. Signed with South Carolina.

S Glover Quin: 2-star recruit from Southwest Mississippi Community College. Signed with New Mexico.


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9 Texans, 1 Pro Bowl: What they did in the game

Posted by Nick Scurfield on January 28, 2013 – 4:37 pm

Matt SchaubThe 2013 Pro Bowl featured a team-record nine Texans players on Sunday. Here’s a look at what each Texans player did in the game:

QB Matt Schaub (2nd career Pro Bowl): 12-of-22 for 113 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions with a 46.2 rating. Sacked once. The 2009 Pro Bowl MVP, Schaub entered game for Peyton Manning at the 6:54 mark of the second quarter and was replaced by Andrew Luck at 3:52 in the third. Schaub’s touchdown pass was a four-yarder to Cleveland’s Josh Cribbs on third-and-goal in the third quarter. Schaub also had one carry for 11 yards, showing off some wheels as he picked up a first down.

RB Arian Foster (3rd Pro Bowl): Three carries, -2 yards. Foster started the game and didn’t see the field much, if at all, after the first quarter. The AFC trailed 31-14 at halftime and had just 15 rushing yards as a team, while the NFC had just 78 in a decidedly pass-happy game. Foster threw a few halfback passes during the week in practice, as he did during last year’s Pro Bowl practices, but didn’t get a chance to do so in Sunday’s game.

WR Andre Johnson (6th Pro Bowl): Three catches for 34 yards on five targets. Johnson started and played much of the first half. In the second half, he wore a red AFC hat as he stood on the sideline with folded arms and talked to former University of Miami teammate Reggie Wayne, Peyton Manning, Schaub and others. He caught one pass from Schaub, a 16-yard gain on third-and-15 in the second quarter.

TE Owen Daniels (2nd career Pro Bowl): Four catches for 45 yards on seven targets. Daniels had a long gain of 17, which he caught from Luck in the fourth quarter. He caught two passes from Schaub, including a 13-yarder in the second quarter.

LT Duane Brown (1st Pro Bowl), LG Wade Smith (1st), C Chris Myers (2nd): Brown and Smith both started. Myers, in his second consecutive Pro Bowl, played as a reserve. Brown played mostly right tackle, with Cleveland’s Joe Thomas seeing a bulk of time at left tackle when Brown was on the field. Smith also played some right guard; he and Brown ironically never played beside each other in the entire game.

DE J.J. Watt (1st Pro Bowl): Five tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss, one quarterback hit. Watt started in his Pro Bowl debut and made plays in the backfield along with a couple of other highlights – and a stomach-churning moment. The presumptive NFL Defensive Player of the Year lined up at wide receiver on the AFC’s first drive and had a pass thrown his way by Manning in the end zone. The pass was incomplete, and it also left Watt with a bloody finger that he showed off to NBC cameras on the sideline. Watt continued to play in the game and afterward said he’s fine and just needed a few stitches.

CB Johnathan Joseph (2nd Pro Bowl): Four tackles, including three in the first half. Joseph, making his second consecutive Pro Bowl appearance, started the game and was often on the field at the same time as Watt. He lined up against the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Vincent Jackson and even Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten.


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HoustonTexans.com hits Honolulu

Posted by Nick Scurfield on January 24, 2013 – 2:23 am

HONOLULU – Aloha from Hawaii, site of the 2013 Pro Bowl. I’ll be here all week to cover the nine Texans players who were selected to play in the game, which kicks off Sunday at 6 p.m. CT at Aloha Stadium here  on the island of Oahu.

The Texans’ nine Pro Bowlers are not only a team record but the most of any team in the league this year. Defensive end J.J. Watt, cornerback Johnathan Joseph, running back Arian Foster, wide receiver Andre Johnson and left tackle Duane Brown all are representing the Texans as starters for the AFC. Quarterback Matt Schaub, center Chris Myers, left guard Wade Smith and tight end Owen Daniels made the squad as reserves.

The AFC and NFC teams practice separately each day. Practices started on Wednesday at Kapolei High School and will continue Thursday morning at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Check back with us tomorrow afternoon for updates from practice and afterward as we talk to Texans players and their NFL all-star peers. “Voice of the Texans” Marc Vandermeer is out here with me and will be contributing to our coverage for the week.

We’ll also check in at some point with Texans Cheerleader Vanessa, who already has been blogging her experiences for us on HoustonTexans.com.


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Off the Turf with Scurf: Chris Myers

Posted by Nick Scurfield on January 4, 2013 – 6:02 pm

Chris MyersEpisode 18 of “Off the Turf with Scurf,” my semi-weekly podcast here on HoustonTexans.com, features Texans center Chris Myers.

Myers, an eighth-year veteran, has started all 80 games since joining the Texans in a trade from the Denver Broncos in 2008. The two-time team captain was named to his second consecutive Pro Bowl this season. In the podcast, he discusses the Texans are looking forward to the playoffs despite their 1-3 finish to the season; the perspective he gained from playing on a 13-3 Denver Broncos team that lost in the AFC Championship Game as a rookie in 2005; how the Texans dubbed this Monday “Swagga Back Monday”; the team’s renewed energy level and focus in practice this week; the playoff atmosphere at Reliant Stadium for the Wild Card game vs. Cincinnati last year; his teammates Arian Foster, Andre Johnson and J.J. Watt; defensive tackle Geno Atkins and the rest of the Bengals’ defense; the recent criticism befalling Texans quarterback Matt Schaub; the Texans’ offensive line rotations at right guard and right tackle; being named to the Pro Bowl last week along with Texans left guard Wade Smith and left tackle Duane Brown; and his wife, Jenny, and their two daughters, Makenna, 3, and Caylin, 1..

Thanks for listening. Link

OTWS archive
Episode 1 (6/2): J.J. Watt, Wade Phillips
Episode 2 (6/9): Duane Brown, Paul Kuharsky
Episode 3 (6/18): Whitney Mercilus, Keith Gilmore
Episode 4 (6/23): Case Keenum, Jerrry Rhome
Episode 5 (6/30): Matt Schaub, Geoff Kaplan
Episode 6 (7/24): James Casey
Episode 7 (8/4): Connor Barwin, Marc Vandermeer
Episode 8 (8/10): Justin Forsett, Chick Harris
Episode 9 (8/17): Bradie James
Episode 10 (9/8): Andre Johnson
Episode 11 (9/15): T.J. Yates
Episode 12 (9/22): Derek Newton
Episode 13 (9/29): Antonio Smith (Video: Smith on start of career)
Episode 14 (10/20): Bryan Braman (Video: Braman on special teams)
Episode 15 (11/3): Owen Daniels (Video: Daniels on TD celebration)
Episode 16 (11/10): Danieal Manning
Episode 17 (12/10): Darryl Sharpton
Episode 18 (1/4/13): Chris Myers


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Players not dressing, lineup changes for Texans-Vikings

Posted by Nick Scurfield on August 30, 2012 – 3:52 pm

Here’s a list of players who are not dressing and the starting lineup changes for tonight’s preseason game between the Texans and Minnesota Vikings at Reliant Stadium. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. CT:

Texans non-dressers
8 QB Matt Schaub
13 QB T.J. Yates
21 CB Brice McCain
23 RB Arian Foster
24 CB Johnathan Joseph
25 CB Kareem Jackson
29 FS Glover Quin
38 SS Danieal Manning
44 RB Ben Tate
50 OLB Bryan Braman
53 ILB Bradie James
55 C Chris Myers
56 ILB Brian Cushing
58 OLB Brooks Reed
62 G Antoine Caldwell
74 G Wade Smith
75 T Derek Newton
76 T Duane Brown
80 WR Andre Johnson
81 TE Owen Daniels
86 FB James Casey
87 WR Jerrell Jackson
88 TE Garrett Graham
94 DE Antonio Smith
95 NT Shaun Cody
96 DE Tim Jamison
98 OLB Connor Barwin
99 DE J.J. Watt

Texans starting lineup changesrt
Keshawn Martin and Lestar Jean will start at wide receiver. Rashad Butler will start at left tackle. Cody White will start at left guard. Ben Jones will start at center. Brandon Brooks will start at right guard. Andrew Gardner will start at right tackle. Logan Brock will start at tight end. John Beck will start at quarterback. Moran Norris will start at fullback. Justin Forsett will start at running back. Mitch King and Jared Crick will start at defensive end. Hebron Fangupo will start at nose tackle. Whitney Mercilus and D.J. Bryant will start at outside linebacker. Mister Alexander and Tim Dobbins will start at inside linebacker. Alan Ball and Sherrick McManis will start at cornerback. Quintin Demps and Troy Nolan will start at safety.

Vikings non-dressers
7 QB Christian Ponder
12 WR Percy Harvin
20 CB Chris Cook
26 CB Antoine Winfield
28 HB Adrian Peterson
32 HB Toby Gerhart
33 FS Jamarca Sanford
34 S Andrew Sendejo
41 S Mistral Raymond
42 FB Jerome Felton
50 WLB Erin Henderson
52 SLB Chad Greenway
54 MLB Jasper Brinkley
65 C John Sullivan
69 RDE Jared Allen
71  T Phil Loadholt
74 LG Charlie Johnson
75 LT Matt Kalil
81 WR Jerome Simpson
82 TE Kyle Rudolph
89 TE John Carlson
93 UT Kevin Williams
96 LDE Brian Robison
98 NT Letroy Guion

Vikings starting lineup changes:
84 Michael Jenkins at WR for 81 Jerome Simpson
73 DeMarcus Love at LT for 75 Matt Kalil
72 Chris DeGeare at LG for 74 Charlie Johnson
61 Joe Berger at C for 65 John Sullivan
79 Pat Brown at RT for 71 Phil Loadholt
40 Rhett Ellison at TE for 82 Kyle Rudolph
11 Stephen Burton at WR for 12 Percy Harvin
14 Joe Webb at QB for 7 Christian Ponder
44 Ryan D’Imperio at FB for 42 Jerome Felton
38 Lex Hilliard at HB for 32 Toby Gerhart
91 D’Aundre Reed at LDE for 96 Brian Robison
62 Chase Baker at NT for 90 Fred Evans
99 Christian Ballard at UT for 93 Kevin Williams
97 Everson Griffen at RDE for 69 Jared Allen
51 Larry Dean at LB for 52 Chad Greenway
58 Tyrone McKenzie at LB for 54 Jasper Brinkley
55 Marvin Mitchell at LB for 50 Erin Henderson
27 Brandon Burton at CB for 26 Antoine Winfield
25 Chris Carr at CB for 20 Chris Cook
37 Eric Frampton at SS for 41 Mistral Raymond
22 Harrison Smith at FS for 33 Jamarca Sanford


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A look at the Texans’ new starting offensive line

Posted by Nick Scurfield on August 27, 2012 – 7:53 pm

The Texans parted ways with 40 percent of their starting offensive line this offseason. Here’s a look at their new starting lineup up front after Derek Newton was named the starter at right tackle on Monday:

Left tackle: Duane Brown (60 career starts, 60 with Texans)
Left guard: Wade Smith (66 career starts, 32 with Texans)
Center: Chris Myers (80 career starts, 64 with Texans)
Right guard: Antoine Caldwell (13 career starts, 13 with Texans)
Right tackle: Derek Newton (0 career starts, 0 with Texans)

Newton replaces Eric Winston, who started 87 consecutive games for the Texans at right tackle. Winston was released this offseason in a salary-cap move. Caldwell replaces Mike Brisiel, who started 47 games at right guard from 2007-11. Brisiel signed with the Oakland Raiders this offseason as an unrestricted free agent.

The right side of the offensive line has been perhaps the biggest question mark surrounding the 2012 Texans. Chemistry and continuity are critical to the success of the Texans’ zone blocking scheme. Houston’s offensive line, with primarily the same starting five in place, blocked for the league’s top passer in 2009, top rusher in 2010 and second-ranked running game in 2011.

Now, the least-experienced player on the left side of the line, Brown, has as many seasons of NFL experience (four) as Caldwell (three) and Newton (one) combined. But Caldwell has been in and out of the starting lineup since his rookie year, and Newton appeared in 14 games as a rookie last season. He also got extensive work with the first-team offense this offseason, splitting reps with Rashad Butler as the two competed for the job.

We know what the Texans’ offensive line will look like in 2012. Only time will tell how they perform.


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Reports: Texans agree to contract extension with Duane Brown

Posted by Nick Scurfield on August 16, 2012 – 11:02 am

The Texans have reportedly agreed to a contract extension with left tackle Duane Brown, a fifth-year pro who is entering the final year of his rookie deal.

The news was reported almost simultaneously by John McClain of the Houston Chronicle and Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston. Nothing has been announced by the team, which means the deal is not official.

Brown, a first-round draft pick in 2008, allowed only 2.5 sacks last season. He was named second-team All-Pro by the Associated Press. The Texans think he is on his way to becoming a dominant player.

Brown is one of several prominent Texans scheduled to become a free agent after this season, along with quarterback Matt Schaub and outside linebacker Connor Barwin. Barwin said Tuesday that his agent and the Texans have initiated talks and he would like to get a new deal but that his focus is on the upcoming season.


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Duane Brown tweets that he’s OK

Posted by Nick Scurfield on August 1, 2012 – 2:16 pm

Left tackle Duane Brown, who left practice on Wednesday morning with an ankle injury, posted the following on Twitter before the Texans’ afternoon practice:

“TexansNation I’m good!!!!Thanks for the thoughts and concerns!”

Brown’s injury was a major cause for concern. The fifth-year tackle earned second-team All-Pro honors from the Associated Press in 2011 after allowing just 2.5 sacks. His coaches think he’s on his way to becoming a dominant player who is an “offensive weapon” for the team.

It’s unclear how much time, if any, Brown will miss, but it doesn’t sound like it will be much. Which means all of ‘Texans Nation’ can breathe a sigh of relief.

We’ll have more on Brown’s injury from Texans head coach Gary Kubiak later this afternoon.


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Coach’s Commentary: Offensive Line

Posted by Nick Scurfield on July 24, 2012 – 9:42 am

On Monday, our position-by-position preview of the 2012 Texans continued with a look at the offensive line. Here’s what Texans offensive line coach John Benton, who has been with the Texans since 2006, has to say about the Texans’ projected starters at each position:

On LT Duane Brown: “I thought Duane had his best year last year since coming to us. Really is coming into his own as one of the top tackles in the league. He’s become a very consistent pass protector that really brings a top-level athlete to the position. He’s able to do some things, particularly in space and the run game, that not many people can do, and we plan on taking more and more advantage of that as it goes on. But he has progressed and become a technician at his position as well as having that mean streak we look for. I don’t care if it’s run, pass, whatever, it makes no difference to Duane. He is looking for an advantage, and if he smells blood, he’ll go after it. He’s got a demeanor to him and is really starting to play with the attitude we’d want our whole group to play with. I think he’s on his way to becoming a dominant player.”

On LG Wade Smith: “Wade has been a consistent performer for us. Kind of our veteran leader of the group. Keeps us all grounded. Very, very intelligent player. Makes a lot of key adjustments for us, which is fairly unusual for a guard. He’s another player that plays with the type of attitude we want. He’s really out there to not just get his job done but to add something extra to the mix, and it’s paid off over time. He’s just very sound, one of the highest graders we’ve had time and time again, and brings an element of both experience and attitude to our group. Wade’s a coach’s dream. He is a true professional. He is the most prepared player for every game. He rarely, rarely ever has a mental error. He shows up and he’s a hard, hard worker. He is all ball all the time, and that pays off.”

On C Chris Myers: “Very excited to have Chris as a Pro Bowl center. The center’s always going to be the captain of our group. He initiates every blocking scheme we have and oftentimes is communicating with the quarterback and that type of thing, both in protections and runs. And no one does that better than Chris. He’s played very well in the last few years and continues to progress, and we’re expecting him to keep progressing, even through his accolades. He’s really the type of center we need for this scheme. He has an extremely quick first step. He can get to the second level effectively. He’s done that for a couple years, but he really improved in protection in the one-on-one type schemes this past year and really became a well-rounded player, and we’re looking for big things again from Chris.”

On RG Antoine Caldwell: “Antoine has been here for several years and has played, and we’re very glad that he’s played and played fairly well. He’s progressed every year, and now it’s time for Antoine to step into the fold and be the guy. Brandon Brooks will obviously be competing with him, but I think he’s learned over time what it takes to be successful within our group and has the talent to do it. He’s a physical presence, maybe a more physical presence than we have with some of the other guys just in terms of strength and we call it short-area force, that type of thing. He’s one of those guys, he can create movement at the point of contact. He can keep a three-technique on the line of scrimmage. So what we’re looking for from him is that consistently good play through there. He’s capable, and we’re expecting him to be able to do so.”

On RT Rashad Butler: “Rashad has been, in our opinion, a starter-level tackle for a long time, just playing behind both Duane (Brown) and Eric Winston swinging to both sides, and now he’s going to have the opportunity to take that right tackle spot and run with it. He’ll have some serious competition with Derek Newton, but we expect the best man to win, as always. Rashad, with his experience, probably has the upper hand. Rashad’s got extremely good length. He’s athletic. He’s been becoming a more physical player. His strength has always been his protection technique and his length, which allows him to really handle edge rushers fairly well. He has improved in the run game. He just needs to keep progressing and we’ll be in good shape there. He’s definitely got the athleticism to handle the backside blocks and some of the more difficult athletic blocks we have, so he brings that to the table.”

The position-by-position season preview articles and Coach’s Commentary quotes for each projected starter will be featured in the 2012 Houston Texans Yearbook, which goes on sale at the Go Texan Store at Reliant Stadium and online on Saturday, July 28.


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Duane Brown: “I’d absolutely love to stay in Houston”

Posted by Nick Scurfield on June 11, 2012 – 1:42 pm

Texans left tackle Duane Brown is in the final year of his rookie contract, and he says he’d love to stay in Houston long-term.

A first-round draft pick in 2008 out of Virginia Tech, Brown discussed his contract situation last week on my “Off the Turf with Scurf” podcast.

“I’d absolutely love to stay in Houston,” he said. “I was drafted here, been here four years. I love the city, love this organization. I love the team. I love my teammates. So I’d love to be here as long as I can.  You know, it’s a business. You don’t really have too much control over what happens, but all I can do is control this year. I’m here to play. I’m here to give 150 percent and try to have the best year of my career.”

Brown is coming off a stellar 2011 season, when he allowed only 2.5 sacks and was named second-team All-Pro. Texans coach Gary Kubiak said last week that Brown is having a “great offseason” and taking his game to another level.

“I’m just capitalizing off of the best season of my career,” Brown said. “I’m a certified veteran on this team now, and I realized what I can do and my capability. (I’m) just trying to polish up all the small techniques of my game and, like you said, just take it to another level.

“Going into (last) season, I felt pretty good, mentally and physically. I changed a lot as far as film study and just how I handle my business off of the field, and it showed. Halfway through the season, I realized I’m starting to get where I’m more comfortable. The game slowed down for me a lot, and I could play with more aggression and more intensity because of that, so it was a great feeling.”

Brown is poised for a Pro Bowl season after being named an alternate for the AFC in 2011. It could be his first of many as a Texan.


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