Team Needs: Houston Texans

Constructing the Houston Texans from the ground up hasn't been the slow, tedious process many thought it would be. Not wanting to short cut the process, the Texans have been a modest player in free agency and built the team mainly through the draft.

Coming off a 7-9 record in their third season, the Texans are on the cusp of becoming a consistent competitor in the NFL. The team's front office – led by general manager Charley Casserly – understands player evaluation and has a realistic sense of direction.

Even though quarterback David Carr endured an up-and-down year, wide receiver Andre Johnson proved to be the ultimate weapon at wide receiver, and running back Domanick Davis was a solid contributor. The Texans also received a little taste of the defensive talents of cornerback Dunta Robinson and linebacker Jason Babin.

Improving speed and quickness throughout the roster will be a major focus in the offseason. The Texans were ranked 24th against the pass, with the lack of a pass rush being the key factor. Consistent pressure on the quarterback is a necessity if the defense is going to improve in 2005.


The signing of Miami linebacker Morlon Greenwood indicated that the Texans are serious about improving their defensive front seven's speed and quickness. The athletic Greenwood is slated to play on the inside and, with his good range and solid coverage skills, is expected to provide the defense a different look. Despite not having the reputation of a difference maker, Greenwood appears to be a solid fit in Houston's scheme.

The Texans have given starting linebackers Jamie Sharper and Jay Foreman permission to seek a trade this offseason, but it would be surprising to see both of them leave. Still, Houston, which holds the 13th overall selection in the draft, has been rumored to be evaluating linebacker prospects.

When healthy, the Texans have a stout defensive line. Gary Walker, Robaire Smith and Seth Payne make up a solid front. Injuries have prevented Walker and Payne from playing a full season in either 2003 or 2004, but both will take part in spring practice.

The offense still needs a few tools to complement the talents of Carr and Johnson. The offensive line has been a work in progress for three seasons, with Carr taking the brunt for the line's inexperience, marginal talent and inconsistency. The performance at offensive tackle remains questionable and the guard play has been average at best. Another talented wide receiver opposite Johnson is also a necessity.


The Texans approximately have $3 million under the league-mandated 2005 salary cap.


Offensive line – If there is one aspect of the Texans' building process that has failed, it has been the development of an offensive line to protect David Carr. Easily sacked and pressured more than any quarterback in the league over the last three seasons, Carr should be begging the front office to improve his line's quality and depth. With linemen flying off the free agency board, the draft is the place where the Texans can find Carr some help.

Safety – Strong safety is a weak link in the defensive backfield. Glenn Earl was questionable as the starter, so the Texans will be looking for a replacement.

Cornerback – Dunta Robinson had a solid rookie season and could become a shutdown cornerback. After Robinson, though, the position is questionable in both talent and depth. Veteran Aaron Glenn is on the downturn of his career, and another cornerback in the mold of Robinson would allow the defense to play a more aggressive style.

Wide receiver – Andre Johnson needs a running mate to open up the passing game. The position needs depth, too.


KEY ACQUISITIONS: LB Morlon Greenwood (Miami).

KEY DEPARTURES: S Marlon McCree (Carolina).



UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: QB Tony Banks, LB Marcus Bell, WR Corey Bradford, DL Jerry DeLoach (re-signed), DB Marlon McCree (Carolina), C/LS Dennis O'Sullivan, DE Corey Sears (re-signed), DB Jason Simmons (re-signed), OT Marcus Spears, CB Kenny Wright.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: FB Jarrod Baxter, OG Milford Brown, LB Troy Evans, RB Jonathan Wells.

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