The Houston Texans have come out this preseason and shown that they are already in regular season form. Having an especially good day were the teams quarterbacks..all of them. The combined efforts of Matt Schaub, T.J. Yates and Case Keenem produced a 26-38 for 326 yards effort. Their combined QB rating was 110.2. That’s impressive.
While Schaub has locked up the starting job, the backup position is still up in the air.
“TJ’s solid again, Case makes some really nice throws in there,” Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. “The easy way for me to answer that is to say they’re both doing their jobs. They’re making it really hard on me, and that’s a good thing for our team.”
Star Linebacker Brian Cushing returned to the field for the first time since Game 5 last season. He played 10 snaps and picked up a tackle.
“I’m proud of him,” Kubiak said. “For him to go out there and get hit on and stuff like that was a big step.”
The Texans’ draft board is set. All that remains is seeing how the chips fall beginning on
Thursday with the first round, where the Texans have the 26th pick, and executing their plan.
At his annual pre-draft press conference on Tuesday, general manager Rick Smith applauded the work done by the Texans’ scouting and coaching staffs during draft preparations.
“This is such a subjective process, what we try to do is do as much as we can do to put ourselves in positions to make good decisions,” Smith said. “Our processes are in place now and I feel so good about them, and I think longevity helps us because we’ve got people who have worked with us in the system long enough that I just really feel good about where we are and how we’ve stacked this board and just the process.
“So the culmination, obviously, of a lot of work over the last year, I think we can fully expect that it will be a very successful weekend for us. I’m thankful to the guys who have put in all the work and I think we’ve vetted this board about as thoroughly as we’ve vetted a board, and I feel very prepared as a group going in.
“We’ve met this morning to go over scenarios and we’ll do the same thing tomorrow, but really, the work’s done. The board is set. We’re excited about adding some players that will come in and hopefully impact our football team.”
Smith said the Texans “took a significant step” toward their goal of winning a Super Bowl last season. They went 10-6 and advanced to the Divisional Round of the playoffs before losing to the Baltimore Ravens on the road in narrow fashion.
Every first-round pick in Texans history has started as a rookie, but that could change in 2012.
“We are coming into the draft where we feel like we have a good football team and there are no glaring needs,” Smith said. “Certainly, we feel like we’re in that position, but I still think you have to look for impact players. Maybe the early contribution won’t be as significant for some of them, but you still want to go out and find the best players available that fit your system and speak to some kind of need on your football team or can make some kind of contribution to your football team.”
So what are the Texans’ needs heading into the draft?
“If you look across our football team, the first thing I think you would think about [is] on the offensive line, losing a couple starters, via free agency in one case [right guard Mike Brisiel] and then a termination in another case [right tackle Eric Winston], but we’ve got to look at the offensive line group,” Smith said. “I’ve said at the Combine earlier that I think we can probably help ourselves at the wide receiver position with maybe adding some youth and adding some speed there, and then depth in the linebacker corps. You can always add pass rushers. You can always add corners; I’ve always said that.
“We’ll do what we always do. We’ll stay true to our board. We’ve assessed a value that we think these players have at their particular positions, and the way that it falls is the way that we’ll pick them.”
Smith declined to discuss specific draft prospects, as he does every year. He did say on Tuesday that there is depth in this draft at wide receiver, offensive line and linebacker.
Smith also said the Texans are further along in their evaluation of 3-4 defensive prospects from last year, when they switched from evaluating 4-3 players in the middle of the scouting season after Wade Phillips was hired as defensive coordinator.
“One thing about this defense is you need linebackers,” he said. “You need depth at linebacker. You need as many guys as you can find that can rush the passer that are athletic. It helps you on special teams. I do believe that our special teams units were improved last year, and part of that is a function of a 3-4 defense. We’ll continue to bolster those groups and continue to try to find players that fit that system and can come in and help us.”
Going back to the offensive line, Smith repeated another familiar refrain of his from this time of year: The Texans don’t stack their draft board based on need.
“We’ve got good players on our football team already that we think can step in there,” Smith said. “(Rashad) Butler is a guy that played at a very, very high level when he had his opportunity, and it’s been very limited, but he started four games for us and played at a pretty high level. (Antoine) Caldwell has starting experience. Last year, even our seventh-round pick had the opportunity to be a swing tackle in . That’s really good experience that he was able to get.
“We’re not at a point where we’re at a total deficit anywhere on our football team, but we do think that there are some players in this draft that can come in and provide depth and help us.”
After signing with the Texans as an unrestricted free agent on Friday, inside linebacker spoke with HoustonTexans.com’s Nick Scurfield in a 1-on-1 interview for Texans TV.
James, 31, discussed his decision to coem to Houston, his familiarity with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and his excitement about being a part of the Texans’ defense.
Here’s a transcript of the interview ():
How does it feel to join the Texans? “It feels great. I couldn’t ask for a better place, better situation, coaching staff, family, fans, everything. It’s just awesome for me. “
You played under Wade Phillips and Reggie Herring for several years in Dallas. How excited are you to be back with them, and how attractive was that in bringing you here? “It was a no-brainer when Houston reached out to me. Wade tried to not get too involved because he wanted me to make my own decision, but I knew from the moment that they called that this is where I’d be and I’d rather play here. So, it’s good to be here. I’m looking forward to a great season. I’m coming in just trying to do what I do, help the guys and take us to the next level.”
What have they said to you about your role here? “Just come in the other spot and play and help Cush [}, help the defense as much as possible and do what I usually do and just make some plays and have fun.”
This Texans defense ranked No. 2 in the league last season. You already tweeted about the “#BullsOnParade” – what do you think about being a part of this group? “It’s a lot of high-motor guys that’s on this defense, and you can tell they’re very self-motivated. The cohesion is here, and these guys get after it. Just watching film and being in Texas, we got a chance to keep up with each other. Having that 3-4 experience, you just keep up with other [teams] who’s playing the 3-4 and see if we can steal something, because it’s a copy-cat league. They just stuck out all the time. Cush played well. [Danieal] Manning played well. played well. All these guys. J.J. [Watt] is just – he has a high motor. The two outside ‘backers [ and ]. Coming from Dallas, we had D-Ware [DeMarcus Ware] and [Anthony] Spencer. We have two outside ‘backers that are just relentless. This whole defense, if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do and if you’re not flying around, you will stick out like a sore thumb.”
Being from Monroe, La., and having played at LSU, how nice is it to be a little bit closer to home now? “It’s good. I’ve been fortunate and blessed to be one state over – been in Texas my whole career right next to Louisiana, so it’s awesome, man. I can’t even describe it, but I’m just looking forward to getting in here and getting in the trenches with everybody and having fun.”