Houston Texans

All good things must come to an end, and it seems as if the Texans might be saying goodbye to possible Hall of Famer Andre Johnson. The 12-year veteran out of Miami has been through all the ups and downs of the Houston Texans and his patience appears to have finally run out.

The Texans were a popular pick as an early season Super Bowl contender last season. But after pulling out victories in their first two games, the Texans lost 14 consecutive games to finish the season 2-14. It is clear that those Super Bowl aspirations were quickly washed away.

Now, coming off a season in which they posted the worst record in the league, it is safe to say the Texans are in full rebuilding mode. Nobody around the franchise has a Super Bowl on their mind.

Which brings us to the crossroads between the Texans and Andre Johnson. Johnson is almost certainly the been franchise’s best player of all-time. However, the aging Johnson has no intention of being a part of the franchise’s rebuilding process that could send him into retirement.

At the age of 33 and heading into his 12th season in the league, Johnson’s body may only have two good years left. He wants to contend for a Super Bowl and at this point, the Texans should grant his trade request. Houston can dissect it any which way, but a Super Bowl is very unlikely in their near future. There is nothing appealing to keep Johnson a Texan at this point and Houston should realize that and give the man what he desrves.

Johnson has given so much to this franchise and city, both on and off the field. Now it's time the franchise does him the justice of trading him to a Super Bowl contender. It won’t be hard finding a suitor for a star wide receiver who is an asset in the locker room as well. Overall, Johnson had a great run with the Texans, but its time to let go. 

As the NFL Draft draws near the Houston Texans are in an interesting position with the first overall pick.

The Texans could use a quarterback but many scouts believe that defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is worthy of the top draft spot. Clowney or a quarterback would address one of Houston’s needs but it depends on who it deems worthy of being drafted. Along with a quarterback and defensive lineman, the Texans need offensive line help, an outside linebacker, an additional running back and a defensive back.

Here is our second Houston Texans mock draft for the first four rounds:

Pick No. 1: QB Blake Bortles (UCF)

Many NFL analysts have the Texans drafting highly-touted defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with the number one draft pick but I’m skeptical of that. Clowney has some work ethic concerns and at times has looked lazy.

On top of that, the Texans need a quarterback. Unless Houston wants to enter the season with Case Keenum as its starting quarterback, it would be wise for the Texans to draft a quarterback here.

In our first mock draft, the Texans drafted Johnny Manziel but since then Blake Bortles has emerged as the best quarterback in the draft.

If the Texans choose to draft a quarterback with their first pick, Blake Bortles would be the perfect fit.

Pick No. 33: OLB Kyle Van Noy (BYU)

Kyle Van Hoy was a key to BYU’s defense. Van Noy played a major factor in BYU’s games against Wisconsin and Texas – he had a combined sixteen tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack and an interception in those games.

Van Noy would be a nice addition to the Texans already solid front seven. Van Noy would also be a nice compliment to the Texans’ star defensive end, JJ Watt.

Pick No. 65: OT Cyril Richardson (Baylor)

The Texans’ quarterbacks had defenders in their faces way too often last season. The offensive line struggled to stop opposing teams’ pass rush.

The Texans need some help protecting their quarterback and Cyril Richardson could be someone the they look to grab in the third round.

Richardson had a poor showing in the Senior Bowl which has dropped him to the third round. He has perfect size and strength for a tackle. The only concern is his ability to block speed rushers.

Pick No. 101 S CJ Barnett (Ohio State)

After a terrible defensive year, Houston could use help in the secondary. With its pick in the fourth round, Houston should consider addressing its need for a defensive back.

If the Texans decided to draft a defender, safety CJ Barnett is worthy of consideration. Barnett is an aggressive safety but doesn’t have great footwork. But in the fourth round, Barnett could be a good addition to a reeling defense.

Pick No. 135 RB Lache Seastrunk (Baylor)

After losing back-up running Ben Tate, Houston could use an additional running back. The NFL awarded the Texans an additional fourth round pick and with that pick they should take running back Lache Seastrunk.

Although Seastrunk could have stayed at Baylor an additional year to develop, the Texans would give Seastrunk an opportunity to learn from star running back Arian Foster and have a back-up role for him.

Seastrunk has tremendous speed and would be a solid addition to Houston’s backfield. 

A closer look at the Houston Texans' 2013 regular season schedule

Steady progression over the past three seasons has evolved the Houston Texans into a team that has championship expectations. With the NFL schedule released Thursday, the Texans’ competition will test those expectations.

Houston will have to face the reigning AFC and NFC champions within the first five weeks of the season. The last team to face the two Super Bowl teams within the first five weeks was the Arizona Cardinals in 2007.  They went on to win both.

With the acquisitions of Nnamdi Asomugha and Anquan Boldin, San Francisco seems to provide a tougher challenge than Baltimore. However, the Ravens have slightly recovered from their off-season losses, signing Michael Huff and Elvis Dumervil to lengthy contracts.

One of the departed, safety Ed Reed, will get his homecoming in week three, and Houston will get a chance to win two in a row against the Ravens for the first time in franchise history.

With both Super Bowl participants at the top of the schedule, this marks one of the tougher openings for the Texans. This season the Texans will face three teams in the opening month who are coming off playoff seasons. The last two seasons they faced three total. None were Super Bowl teams.

Houston also gets four primetime games, a place they struggled a season ago. Twice the Texans were embarrassed on national television, losing to Green Bay, 42-24 and New England, 42-14.

With seven games against 2012 playoff teams this season, it’s going to be tough for the Texans to reach the playoffs for the third straight time. If they can get there, they will be the second fastest expansion team to reach three straight playoff seasons since the merger in 1970.

A few more rounds: What Ed Reed signing with the Texans means

In Ed Reed’s first press conference as a Houston Texan, he explained that the main reason the three-year, $15 million deal was not finished sooner was that he had to take his son to his nephew’s birthday party over the weekend.

These past few months seem to have been all about partying for the 11-year veteran after winning the Super Bowl, stirring yet another celebration in the front office and locker room of the Texans organization.

“It is truly a great day for our franchise,” Houston General Manager Rick Smith said during Reed's press conference. “I am truly thankful that this deal came together. I’m thankful and excited about Ed’s contributions to our football team, to our community. I’m excited to watch him and welcome him into our family.”

Smith and CEO Bob McNair immediately made plans to sign Reed after free safety Glover Quin signed a five-year deal with the Lions, sending a private jet to Baltimore for Reed’s visit to Houston on March 14.

Reed must have appreciated the Southern hospitality. And the $15 million.

The Texans worked out a fair deal, not overstepping with a huge contract that comes with the risk of signing a player toward the end of Reed's career. Reed, in return, can’t complain with $5 million guaranteed and the opportunity to play three more years in the NFL.

That’s better than what Brian Urlacher is getting.

The fact that Reed’s contract is for three seasons gives a glimpse at the timetable of hope Rick Smith and Bob McNair have on winning a Super Bowl. This is a team that has been improving incrementally since 2010, and the signing of Ed Reed might be the final piece in getting them there.

Having played in 90 percent of the games in his career, Reed offers stability to a defense that was plagued by the injury of Brian Cushing a season ago. Reed hasn’t missed a game since 2010 and played through a strained MCL in Super Bowl XLVII, recording an interception and a game-saving tackle.

The 34-year-old safety offers experience and leadership to a defense whose starters’ average age was 27 last season (younger than four out of the top five defenses of 2012). What better to help reinforce the idea of winning a championship than the addition of a player who just learned how to get there?

He will be reunited with former teammate Andre Johnson, with whom he won a national championship for the Miami Hurricanes in 2002. The link of leadership between the offense and defense will help keep goals in mind when inner-team rivalries begin during training camp, when starting jobs are at risk.

With the draft coming up, safety is no longer as big a necessity. But with talent such as Tyrann Mathieu available, it wouldn’t be surprising for the Texans to draft a player in the later rounds to take the reins at safety after benefiting from the mentorship of a future hall of famer.

Nevertheless, the elite defense the Texans have been striving toward almost seems complete. The secondary is as strong as it ever has been, the linebacking core will return to its full threat with Cushing back in the lineup and J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith are returning to hold up the front line.

Playing in the Super Bowl is the goal for the Houston Texans, and they may just get there with the help of a player who instead of hanging up the gloves has decided to go for a few more rounds.

Texans to Watch the Rest of the Year

The Houston Texans dropped their last game against the Panthers, and with it came a much needed knock back down to reality for Texans fans who were ready to buy Super Bowl tickets. Houston achieved its first playoff berth by tackling each game one at a time, and will have to continue to do so as the season wears on. With as many injuries as its sustained, however, doing so will require an especially inspired effort from the few players the Texans have left.

OLB Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed

When Mario Williams suffered a season ending pectoral injury after only the Texan’s fifth game, few thought the linebacking corps would be able to pick up Williams’ record setting pace. But instead of regressing, the Texans defense got even better, really fast, and it has been largely due to the outside linebacker duo of Reed and Connor Barwin stepping up their games. The two have combined for 14.5 sacks (six for Reed and 10.5 for Barwin) in 11 games. Barwin even recorded a sack against the elusive Cam Newton. To secure home-field advantage in the playoffs, the Texans will need their ferocious OLB duo to rattle the Colt’s Dan Orlovsky and Tennessee’s Matt Hasslebeck in their final two games. It’s a task they can absolutely handle, but it’s imperative that they are at the center of the defensive charge.

RB Ben Tate

Speaking of the injury bug, guess who the next player bit was? Backup running back Ben Tate has been phenomenal this season, serving as the bruising complement back to the speedy Arian Foster. However,  Tate was listed as limited with a hamstring injury for Monday's practice. The coaches expect him to play Thursday against the Colts, and they better hope he does. With a rookie quarterback, the Texans offense depends disproportionately on the run game and Foster can’t take all the touches. Foster has also had troubles holding on to the ball as of late which has opened the door for more Tate touches. He was held to just 26 yards against the Panthers, but is averaging a respectable 65 yards a game given his limited touches. This perfect complement back will have to play like a starter every snap he is in for the Texans to make noise in the playoffs.

G Antoine Caldwell

Much of the Texan’s success this season can be attributed to the play of the offensive line. But as the story has gone for most of the season, the line hasn’t been without injury. With guard Mike Brisiel out, Antoine Caldwell was the next man up. He started against the Panthers, a game where the line gave up two sacks, but he played well for the most part. He has three years of NFL experience, and played for a college coach (Nick Saban) who knows a thing or two about building NFL-caliber offensive lineman. All he has to do is protect the rookie T.J. Yates and make room for his running backs, but who knows if the extra load will be too much to handle. If he proves to be a weak link on the line, it could spell trouble come playoff time. Teams are blitzing the young Yates to test him, so Caldwell will have to play his assignments perfectly to give him time to throw.

TE Owen Daniels

Well, let’s start with what we all should have just assumed was going to happen. Daniels is hurt. He tweaked his knee against the Panthers and could be out against the Colts Thursday night. The injury doesn’t look season ending, which is important for T.J. Yates. Daniels has emerged as his favorite target, as Yates is prone to send him the ball on crossing routes. He’s got 53 receptions for 637 yards and three touchdowns on the year. He had a100 yards receiving against the Bengals two games ago and possesses that “big play” ability to move the chains. If Daniels not there against the Colts, it’s no big deal. But if he isn’t healthy come playoffs, the Texans will be missing a key component to their offense that has provided them a key receiving threat all season.

Photos by Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan staff

RICHMOND, Texas — A man who apparently drowned in the swimming pool behind the home of Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith wasn’t affiliated with the team, authorities said.

Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Capt. James Burger said the body of Engram Lamar Crenshaw, 37, of Katy, was discovered on Sunday morning, following a party at Smith’s ranch-style home in a suburb about 30 miles southwest of the city.

Burger said Crenshaw was a personal friend of Smith.

Police and paramedics were called to Smith’s home about 9:30 a.m. and found a fully clothed man at the bottom of the pool. Burger said a preliminary examination of the body showed no signs of foul play, but he also said authorities were still piecing together the specific details of his death.

“He was not dressed to be swimming in the pool, I can say that,” Burger said.

An autopsy will be performed on Monday in Galveston County. Burger expects results from toxicology tests to come back in about three weeks.

Burger said about 100 people, including “4 or 5” other Texans players, attended Smith’s party on Saturday night. Burger said no Houston coaches or other staff members were there.

Witnesses told police that Crenshaw was last seen by party guests near the pool about 2 a.m.

“Apparently, he stayed out there by himself,” Burger said. “In the morning, when people woke up and went outside, they discovered him in the pool.”

The Texans open the regular season against Indianapolis on Sunday.

“We are aware of the situation,” general manager Rick Smith said in a statement Sunday. “We are gathering facts and have no further comment at this time.”

The 6-foot-4, 295-pound Smith is about to start his eighth season, and third with the Texans. He’s started 31 of 32 games for Houston since signing with the team as a free agent before the 2009 season. Smith was originally a fifth-round pick by Arizona in the 2004 draft out of Oklahoma State.

Burger said no charges have been filed in Crenshaw’s death.

“It doesn’t appear that there’s been any crime here,” Burger said.

Printed on September 6, 2011 as: Man drowns in Texans player's swimming pool


Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak is optimistic Arian Foster will be ready for the regular-season opener after the star running back re-aggravated a hamstring injury in Saturday’s preseason game in San Francisco.

Foster, the NFL’s leading rusher in 2010, left the field in the first quarter of Houston’s 30-7 victory, favoring the left hamstring that he strained early in training camp.

Foster sat out Houston’s preseason opener, then rushed five times for 47 yards and two touchdowns in the Texans’ 27-14 win over New Orleans on Aug. 20. He was hurt on his eighth carry against the 49ers.

“Looks like we’re dealing with the same thing we were dealing with at the start of camp,” Kubiak said Sunday.

“Hopefully, we can get him back on the rehab train, and get him ready for opening day. He’ll be day-to-day.”

Kubiak said head athletic trainer Geoff Kaplan offered a “very positive” outlook for Foster’s recovery, though Kubiak stopped short of saying Foster would definitely be healed in time for the Sept. 11 opener against Indianapolis.

“Until he hops back out there, there’s a concern,” Kubiak said. “But it sounds like we’re heading in the right direction.”

Houston Texans first-round pick J.J. Watt gets introduced in front of the media on Friday.

The ultimatum hanging over Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak for next the football season — whenever that may be — is simple: Get the team into the playoffs or pack your bags and leave town. It came as no surprise that Kubiak used all but one of Houston’s draft picks to address last season’s league-worst pass defense — the wrench in the gear that kept the Texans from being elite.

None were more important than the Texans’ first-round pick out of Wisconsin, defensive end J.J. Watt (6’6”, 292). With an eye for hunting down quarterbacks, Watt will fit well into the five-technique end in new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ scheme. Even as a rookie starter, he will provide a much-needed pass-rushing presence for a team that ranked 23rd in total sacks. He led Wisconsin last season in tackles for losses, and alongside Mario Williams, the Texans should finally have that imposing front line of defenders that has eluded them for nine years.

The Texans also had a productive second round of the draft by trading up for two picks. Houston selected Arizona outside linebacker Brooks Reed and Miami cornerback Brandon Harris in hopes of addressing the team’s abysmal pass defense.

Reed was a potential first rounder that slipped into Houston’s hands in the second round, and team management could not have been happier. Reed brings speed to the Texan’s linebacking corps, and the coaches believe it will compliment the pass rush. His 10-yard split time at the combine was faster than Von Miller’s, the highly touted outside linebacker from Texas A&M.

“When you’re pressuring the quarterback, it starts with your get-off speeds,” said Texans linebackers coach Reggie Herring. “He’s got strength and speed, and he’s mature physically. He’s got a great work ethic, too. Not only is he an athlete, but he’s got all the intangibles.”

Though many analysts say Houston drafted rather well, there are some lingering questions for Kubiak’s club. The Texans skipped the opportunity to address its pass defense head-on by glazing over Nebraska corner Prince Amukamara. He was the cornerstone of a Nebraska secondary that was among the country’s best in 2010. Though they drafted Harris and fellow defensive backs Rashad Carmichael of Virginia Tech and Keo Shiloh of Idaho, the two aren’t expected to make an immediate impact the way Amukamara would have. Houston’s pass defense philosophy isn’t so obvious though.

“Our first two picks, that’s going to make us better,” said defensive backs coach Vance Joseph. “The better you are up front the better you’re going to be on the back end.”

Still, the Texans can’t forget how many games their defensive backs blew last season. Though Kareem Jackson and Glover Quin have matured, Houston will need to look for a veteran defensive back in free agency — which cannot occur until the NFL lockout ends — if their defensive transformation from mediocrity to mastery is to be complete.

As Rusty Tolliver and brothers Scott and Rhys Jenkins approached the end of their 2,000-mile run from Boston to Austin on Friday afternoon, they were greeted by a small crowd of friends, family and a few local news cameras. The trio was running to raise money for four different charities, including Young Texans Against Cancer, the British Heart Foundation, Help for Heroes and the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes. The runners raised more than $10,000 for the four charities. Tolliver knew he wanted to raise money through running and eventually shared the idea with Rhys. The pair regularly ran together as camp counselors in 2006, and Tolliver knew that Rhys would be interested in a long-distance run. After Rhys became involved, his older brother Scott became interested and decided to join the team. Beginning in Boston on Sept. 15, the group ran an average of 35 miles a day. Tolliver and Rhys made the 61.1-mile stretch from College Station to Bastrop the day before Thanksgiving so that they would be able to spend Thanksgiving Day with Tolliver’s family. The idea for the run started after Tolliver lost an aunt to cancer in 2009. His mother also survived two bouts with cancer, he said. While studying journalism in college, Tolliver covered a story about Young Texans Against Cancer and was interested in what he describes as the organization’s distinctly local element, which he felt was lacking in other cancer-support organizations such as Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

HOUSTON — David Carr was sacked an NFL record 76 times in 2002, the Houston Texans’ inaugural season. Three years later, he went down behind the line 68 times, third-most in league history.

The Texans would love to put that issue to rest — and they have made significant upgrades in virtually every area since Carr was cut in 2007 — but protecting the quarterback is unfortunately back in the conversation.

Matt Schaub has been sacked 11 times in three games, tied with Philadelphia’s Michael Vick for the most this season. Only the Eagles have allowed more sacks than Houston (14), and Vick became the starter after Kevin Kolb left the first game with a concussion.

“We’ve got 11 sacks, way too damn many,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. “I don’t care whose fault it is — mine, Matt’s, the O-line. We’ve got to fix it. We’ve got way too many.”

The Texans (2-1) play at Oakland (1-2) this week. The Raiders rank second in total defense (260.7 yards per game) and have seven sacks in their first three games.

Kubiak doesn’t have a Vick as his No. 2 quarterback. He’s got Dan Orlovsky as the backup, but he may need to go to him if Schaub keeps getting hit like this.

He was sacked five times in the Texans 30-27 win over Washington two weeks ago, and took another hard shot after throwing a fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Andre Johnson. Schaub was sacked four more times in Sunday’s 27-13 loss to Dallas, three times by DeMarcus Ware. Keith Brooking had the other one, charging in unblocked to hammer Schaub on a third-down play from the Cowboys’ 3-yard line.

“It’s frustrating as an offensive line,” center Chris Myers said. “You take pride in not having that many sacks and when you’re close to last in the league in giving up sacks, it’s really embarrassing. We’ve got to take it upon ourselves, take pride in that and get better.”

The offensive front faced Dallas without starting left tackle Duane Brown, who was suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on banned substances. Five-year veteran Rashad Butler made his first career start in Brown’s place, and let Ware get by him on one of the sacks.

Right tackle Eric Winston isn’t making excuses. No matter who is starting, Winston said the line needs to hold up.

“It doesn’t matter if he holds it for 15 seconds back there if he wants,” Winston said. “We have to stay on them and somehow get them blocked and that’s just what we’re going to keep doing.”

Kubiak said the entire offense, not just the line, shares blame for the protection breakdowns. Schaub said he’s at fault for some of them, holding onto the ball longer than the blocking could last.

“There’s a few times where I could’ve thrown the ball away or gotten rid of it, just trying to extend plays,” Schaub said. “We’re getting it right, we’re going to be fine. It’s not a big deal. We’re going to get it right.”

Schaub was only sacked twice in Houston’s opening win against Indianapolis. But he only attempted 17 passes because the Texans ran so effectively, rushing 42 times for 257 yards.

Schaub has thrown 84 passes in two games since, and Johnson said Houston’s receivers must take pressure off Schaub by running sharper routes.
“We just have to try to work ourselves open a little but more quickly than we’ve been doing,” Johnson said. “You definitely don’t like to see him get hit. It pretty much takes a toll on the body.”

Schaub can attest to that. He missed five games in 2007 with a shoulder injury and concussion, and four more in 2008 with a knee injury. Schaub started all 16 games last season, and the Texans finished with the NFL’s top passing offense (291 yards per game).

“The thing we were able to do last year was keep him healthy,” Johnson said. “That’s something we’re going to have to continue to do. When he’s healthy, he goes out and plays great.”