Five Injuries the Texans Cannot Afford

Despite struggling with injuries at many of the skill positions a year ago, the Houston Texans still produced the most successful season in franchise history. Houston will begin 2008 with a clean bill of health, but what if it doesn't stay that way? looks at the five players the Texans can least afford to lose.

1. Andre Johnson- Although the wide receiver position is usually not a make or break position for an entire offense, the Houston win total was directly affected by the former first-round pick, Johnson's presence. The former University of Miami Hurricane is Houston's best offensive player, and their win/loss record is directly attributed to Johnson's contributions. In the seven games Johnson was absent a year ago, the Texans went 2-5, and in the nine games he played in, the team went 6-3.

Backup: Andre Davis

2. DeMeco Ryans- Although Ryans' teammate Mario Williams is the player that most people talk about on the Houston defense, being that he was the number one overall pick in the 2006 draft and plays the premium position of defensive end, Ryans is probably the more valuable player to the team. DeMeco Ryans has been a star linebacker since arriving in Houston a couple years ago, and he's secured himself as one of the very best linebackers in the NFL. Ryans was a Pro Bowl selection in his second season (2007), as he led the team with 128 tackles (155 as a rookie in 2006). Ryans makes all the defensive calls and his leadership and talent would be missed greatly.

Backup: Zac Diles

3. Mario Williams- The NFL's former top overall pick ascended himself to star status a year ago as he justified his draft selection and the front office's confidence in him as he tallied a franchise record 14 sacks. Among Williams honors from last season were two AFC Defensive Player of the Week Awards, AP All-Pro second-team honors, and the Defensive Lineman of the Year Award from the NFL Alumni. Williams is the prototypical defensive end who can play the run and rush the passer, basically the type of player that each team would love to have.

Backup: N.D. Kalu, Earl Cochran

4. Dunta Robinson- When cornerback Dunta Robinson is healthy; he's amongst the best men at his position in the league. The former first-round pick may not yet be at the level of Champ Bailey, who's widely considered the best corner in the league, but he's firmly entrenched on that next tier of players that include Rashean Mathis, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Asante Samuel. Robinson missed his first action as a pro a year ago when he was absent for the teams' final seven weeks with a knee injury. If Robinson can return healthy in 2008, the Texans secondary will receive a great lift.

Backup: Fred Bennett

5. Matt Schaub- Usually the quarterback would be number one or number two on lists for most teams in the NFL, but the Texans have a special situation. It's not that Schaub isn't a solid quarterback, because he is, but that the Texans have one of the best backups in the league in Sage Rosenfels. When Schaub played a year ago, he didn't have the benefit of playing with Andre Johnson every game and that hurt the Houston offense. Early in the season with Schaub and Johnson healthy, as well as running back Ahman Green (for the few weeks he was healthy), the Texans offense was among the best in the NFL.

Backup: Sage Rosenfels

Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.

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