Thread: Inside Slant
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Old 03-02-2005   #1
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Default Inside Slant

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Inside Slant
—There will be no shortage of options for the Texans at wide receiver during free agency and in the April draft.
The Texans have discussed adding an additional receiver to take some of the pressure off Pro Bowler Andre Johnson. Johnson was often neutralized by opponents who thought they could over commit to his side of the field because the Texans lacked another reliable deep threat.

The Texans are about $14 to $16 million under the salary cap for 2005, which should allow them some flexibility if they decide to explore signing a big-name free agent.

The list is star-studded with Pittsburgh's Plaxico Burress, Tennessee's Derrick Mason and Baltimore's Kevin Johnson set to become free agents and Washington's Laveranues Coles expected to be traded.

Johnson was drafted by Texans offensive coordinator Chris Palmer in 1999 when Palmer was the head coach in Cleveland.

Michigan's Braylon Edwards and former USC star Mike Williams are considered the top receivers in the draft.

The Texans feel if they can give fourth-year quarterback David Carr some more weapons their offense can be potential dangerous after showing remarkable improvement in 2004.

The team would like to retain Corey Bradford, who has burner-type speed but has split the No. 2 receiver duties with Jabar Gaffney the past two seasons. If Bradford were to return, it would have to be at a reduced price from the $5.25 million he made last season and in a lesser role.

NOTES, QUOTES

—Dunta Robinson and Aaron Glenn combined for 11 interceptions in 2004, tied with Seattle's Ken Lucas and Marcus Trufant for the most by a cornerback duo in the NFL.

—The Texans had 31 big pass plays of 25 or more yards in 2004, compared to 38 in the previous two seasons combined.

—Former Baylor coach Kevin Steele, Cary Gadette and Ted Gill, all of whom coached on Capers' staff at Carolina, have been mentioned as possible candidates to replace defensive line coach Todd Grantham. Grantham accepted the Browns' defensive coordinator job earlier this month.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've got to find a way to get past Indianapolis. We'll be looking for ways to do that in the offseason." — Texans coach Dom Capers on the AFC South division rival Colts, whom the Texans have yet to beat in six meetings.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

NEEDS/DRAFT PRIORITIES

1. Pass protection. The Texans must do a better job of shielding quarterback David Carr, who was sacked 49 times during 2004 and 140 times in the past three seasons. The Texans were preparing to make a run for left tackle Walter Jones until he signed a multi-year deal to remain with the Seahawks. Buffalo's Jonas Jennings would be a significant upgrade over incumbent Seth Wand. Otherwise, Florida State's Alex Barron and Oklahoma's Jammal Brown are considered the best tackles in the draft.

2. Cornerback. You can never have enough talented corners, especially with Indianapolis residing in the AFC South. Aaron Glenn will be 33 by the time the season starts and it's a deep draft at the position. Imagine getting another one like last year's first round pick Dunta Robinson. Having two terrific cover corners would allow the Texans to do a lot of things with their linebackers and safeties.

3. Wide receiver. Andre Johnson became a Pro Bowl receiver in 2004 but was often neutralized by opponents who thought they could over-commit to Johnson's side of the field because the Texans' lack another reliable deep threat. A free agent such as Jerry Porter (Oakland) or Plaxico Burress (Pittsburgh) would help, although neither will come cheap. Michigan's Braylon Edwards and former USC star Mike Williams are the top receivers in the draft.

Inside Slant
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