NFL Team Report - Houston Texans - INSIDE SLANT
Coach Gary Kubiak has thrown up a stop sign on the possibility of moving outside linebacker Brooks Reed inside to play next to Brian Cushing.
The coaches believe Cushing and Reed, who has started on the strong side during his first two seasons, would be a pulverizing one-two punch that would terrorize quarterbacks, running backs and tight ends. But it's not going to happen any time soon, according to Kubiak.
"Brooks is our starting SAM linebacker, and he's a great player," Kubiak said. "We're not going to do anything to impede the progress of Brooks Reed.
"Now, he is a guy who can give you flexibility. We've been caught in some situations where he's done that for our team. What we've done right now is just add more quality players at the depth of our linebacker position. Brooks is lining up at the SAM position, and we expect him to be a great player."
After outside linebacker Sam Montgomery was drafted in the third round, linebackers coach Reggie Herring said he gave the defense options. Among them was moving Reed inside.
"He (Montgomery) provides us with options, like moving Brooks inside," Herring said. "We talked to Brooks about it after the season, and he's excited about the possibility.
"We want to put our 11 best players on the field. I have a highlight tape of Brooks playing inside (2012), and he plays with his hair on fire. He might be the second-best ILB we have on campus."
Reed can't move unless Montgomery is good enough to start. It's a difficult transition moving from stand-up defensive end in college to learning to drop into coverage as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
"We like the option of him staying at SAM and playing very well, so we'll start from there," Kubiak said. "We've got to get these other guys to fit what they do best. No decisions have been made at this point. We think too much of what Brooks is doing at that position to start thinking about that (moving him inside)."
The Texans selected two outside linebackers, including Trevardo Williams in the fourth round. He's more suited for the weak side. But they didn't draft an inside linebacker, and they have only three on the roster - Cushing, Darryl Sharpton and Tim Dobbins. All finished the season on injured reserve.
"You never know what's going to happen with your team," Kubiak said. "My point is, Brooks gives us options, but at the same time, Brooks is our starting SAM linebacker. We're not making some decision just because of the draft process, and all the sudden we're moving a player.
"We have to go through work at OTAs and put our team together. Brooks has been an excellent SAM for us, so we expect him to stay there. We'll have to see what happens with our team."
NFL Team Report - Houston Texans - NOTES, QUOTES
--Receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the first-round pick, excelled in bowl games. In the 2010 Meineke Car Care Bowl, he had 105 yards against South Florida. He followed that with 107 against West Virginia in the 2011 Orange Bowl. Last season, Hopkins had 191 yards against LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
In three bowl games, Hopkins had 32 catches for 403 yards and three touchdowns.
"It just seemed like the bigger the game got, the more competitive he would get," coach Gary Kubiak said. "In our league everybody is good, and you better have that special edge, and this young man has it. I know he will fit in our locker room very well. We've got a big need for him to step in and help us real quickly. I felt great about him."
--Derek Newton, who started at right tackle last season, underwent surgery to repair a patella tendon in his right knee. He won't be ready before training camp.
Brennan Williams (6-6, 318), a third-round pick from North Carolina, has a chance to get a lot of practice time in Newton's place. He could push Newton for a starting job.
"We've got kind of an up-in-the-air situation with Derek being injured," offensive line coach John Benton said. "We're not quite sure when he'll be able to come back. We'll put Brennan in right off the bat, and we can only get better through that competition.
"He should be fairly comfortable with the initial footwork. If he wins the position outright, great. If not, he's got to learn to play left (tackle), too. That's how it works."
--Nose tackle Chris Jones (6-2, 302), a sixth-round pick from Bowling Green, has a chance to win the backup job behind Earl Mitchell.
Jones, the MAC Defensive Player of the Year, had 12.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss last season.
"I really like him," general manager Rick Smith said. "I think when he comes in the building and just the way that he approaches the game and the kind of makeup that he has, it's going to be very hard to keep him off the field. He plays relentlessly and very productively."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Relentless to the ball, a lot of passion. I can do nothing but learn from these guys. I'm so ready to go there and get ready to play. Being relentless and just never giving up. I feel like those key things are just my best qualities. I always fight hard to the end. Whatever they need me to do, I'm prepared for. They can ask me to do anything, and I will train my hardest to be the best at it for the Texans." -- Outside linebacker Sam Montgomery, a third-round pick, when asked what he brings to the table and what he's willing to do.
NFL Team Report - Houston Texans - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
A closer look at the Texans' picks:
Round 1/27 - DeAndre Hopkins, WR, 6-1, 214, Clemson
The coaches are looking for a starter opposite Andre Johnson. Hopkins is a hard worker and a fast learner who gets off the line well and fights for the ball. He's aggressive and fearless. If he doesn't start right away, it'll be an upset.
Round 2/57 - D.S. Swearinger, FS, 5-11, 208, South Carolina
They wanted a young free safety for Ed Reed to groom. Swearinger lacks height, but he's fearless and a hard hitter. They envision him playing near the line of scrimmage in their "sub-package" that requires three safeties.
Round 3/89 - Brennan Williams, T, 6-6, 318, North Carolina
The son of 11-year veteran Brent Williams will compete for a starting job on the right side with incumbent Derek Newton, who's coming off major knee surgery. Williams has quick feet, a nasty streak and wants to "crack heads."
Round 3/95 - Sam Montgomery, OLB, 6-3, 262, LSU
The college defensive end will begin on the strong side. They like his strength, quickness and the way he plays the run and gets after the quarterback. If he has trouble dropping into coverage, he'll move to the weak side.
Round 4/124 - Trevardo Williams, OLB, 6-1, 241, Connecticut
Another college defensive end who'll make the transition to outside linebacker. He's undersized for the strong side, but that's where he'll begin. He has amazing quickness and speed to go with a closing burst to the passer.
Round 6/176 - David Quessenberry, T, 6-5, 302, San Jose State
A former tight end with quick feet, agility and balance. He has movement skills coaches like in their zone scheme. He needs work on technique, and he's got to get stronger and more consistent to compete for playing time.
Round 6/195 - Alan Bonner, WR, 5-10, 197, Jacksonville State
Had his best season as a senior with 54 catches for 1,100 yards and 15 touchdowns. He's best suited to play inside, where he'll compete for playing time with Keshawn Martin. He also might challenge Martin for return duties.
Round 6/198 - Chris Jones, NT, 6-2, 302, Bowling Green
They entered the draft looking for a backup nose tackle to Earl Mitchell. The MAC defensive player of the year will have to shade the center and play one gap. The idea is to get up the field fast and tie up blockers.
Round 6/201 - Ryan Griffin, TE, 6-6, 261, Connecticut
He's got outstanding size, but he's going to need a lot of development. The coaches would like to find a big tight end who's effective blocking on the line of scrimmage. He'll compete for playing time behind Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (9)
--T Rashad Butler was ticketed to start on the right side, but he suffered a season-ending triceps injury for the second consecutive year. He's not expected to be brought back.
--C Antoine Caldwell was supposed to start at right guard in a contract year, but injuries cost him his starting job. He's not expected to be brought back.
--DT Shaun Cody started 13 games but played hurt most of the season. He played well against the run. He had surgery on his spine and isn't expected to be re-signed.
--S Quintin Demps didn't play as well as he did in 2011. He allowed too many big plays, and he's not expected to be re-signed.
--LB Keyaron Fox was a backup who was injured in camp. He's not expected to return.
--LB Bradie James signed a one-year deal and earned a starting spot opposite Brian Cushing. When Cushing was lost for the season in the sixth game, James had to elevate his game. He's not expected to return.
--LB Jesse Nading was a backup linebacker and special teams player who could be re-signed for the minimum.
--CB Stanford Routt was signed off the street and won't be brought back.
--LB Barrett Ruud was signed off the street, played well off the bench, but won't be brought back.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--LB Mister Alexander (not tendered as ERFA) has a chance to make the team as a reserve who primarily plays on special teams if he's signed later.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
--LB Tim Dobbins: UFA; terms unknown.
--T Andrew Gardner: Not tendered as RFA; $650,000/1 yr.
--T Ryan Harris: UFA; terms unknown.
--CB Brice McCain: UFA; $5.25M/3 yrs, $2.25M guaranteed.
--FB Greg Jones: UFA Jaguars; $1M/1 yr, $160,000 SB/$240,000 guaranteed.
--P Shane Lechler: UFA Raiders; $5.5M/3 yrs, $1M SB.
--QB Stephen McGee: FA; terms unknown.
--S Ed Reed: UFA Ravens; $15M/3 yrs, $5M guaranteed.
--CB Alan Ball: UFA Jaguars; terms unknown.
--LB Connor Barwin: UFA Eagles; $36M/6 yrs, $8M guaranteed.
--FB/TE James Casey: UFA Eagles; $12M/3 yrs, $6M guaranteed.
--RB Justin Forsett: UFA Jaguars; terms unknown.
--K Shayne Graham: UFA Browns; $940,000/1 yr.
--P Donnie Jones: UFA Eagles; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--S Glover Quin: UFA Lions; $23.5M/5 yrs, $5.25M SB.
--WR Kevin Walter (released).