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Old 05-19-2005   #1
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LINK: http://www.houstontexans.com/news/ne...php?PRKey=1697

Changing of the guard
By Nick Schenck
HoustonTexans.com

It would be easy for head coach Dom Capers to lament the loss of inside linebackers Jay Foreman and Jamie Sharper this off-season, or worry about how the team’s current linebackers will adapt to their new roles, but that’s not his nature.

Instead, Capers, a glass-half-full type of coach, is focused on how the Texans’ personnel adjustments in the linebacking corps will benefit the team. Through three coaching session practices, Capers is excited about the projected starting lineup of Antwan Peek and Jason Babin at outside linebacker and Kailee Wong and Morlon Greenwood at inside linebacker.

Of the four, only Babin, in his second year, returns as a starter. Peek was a reserve last season, but now replaces Wong, who is moving inside to team with Greenwood, a free agent that played strongside linebacker in the Miami Dolphins’ 4-3 scheme for the past four seasons.

In practice this week, the players have been studying their assignments and getting a feel for each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Without prior experience playing together, the linebackers are trying to gain some chemistry before training camp. So far, says Wong, he likes how they’ve gelled.

“I think we’re looking good,” Wong said. “We’re still learning a lot. All of us have a lot to learn because basically there are three new starters out there. Babin is the only one that is a repeat starter. So it’s going very well.”

Both Babin and Peek converted from defensive end in college to their current positions. The transition has its growing pains, which explains why Capers expects each player to show improvement this season with another year under their belts.

While Babin had an opportunity to show his talent last season in 16 starts as a rookie, Peek has started only five of his 24 games the past two seasons. In that time, he has accounted for three sacks and 40 tackles. Capers anticipates those numbers to increase considerably this year in an increased role.

“There’s no question about his athletic ability and his explosiveness,” Capers said of Peek. “We feel he’ll give us good pass-rush ability.”

The inside tandem of Greenwood and Wong is intriguing since neither has played the position before. The Texans are counting on Greenwood ’s athleticism to aid his adjustment. Also, after playing in the shadow of Zach Thomas, Greenwood will have a chance to step into a leading role with the Texans.

Although Wong’s experience playing inside in the 4-3 with the Minnesota Vikings will help him, his current duties are different. To his credit, Wong played inside on third down in the Texans’ substitution package last season, which should ease some of the burden. But he admits that he still has a long way to go before he feels completely comfortable in his new role.

“It entails a lot different responsibilities,” Wong said of his position change. “It makes me have to be a leader in terms of veteran leadership, but also in terms of making calls and doing those types of things. So it has put a lot of pressure on me to learn the system.”

Each season, Wong reviews the Texans’ game tapes to correct his mistakes and pick up any bad habits he has developed. This off-season, he has plugged in tape of another team as well.

“Once I found out what I was going to be playing, I went through some of the Patriots’ games,” said Wong, who is entering his eighth NFL season. “In the past, I would’ve been watching the outside guys, but this year I was watching Tedy Bruschi, in particular.”


Wong’s extra effort in the film room has benefited him in the coaching sessions. Capers envisions him as a three-down player that can help the defense in a number of ways, especially in the huddle when he’s relaying the play calls to his teammates.


“Kailee is one of those guys that because he’s so smart and so instinctive that if there is one guy that can move and make the transition, Kailee can do that,” Capers said. “He’s our signal-caller. He’ll be out in front of the huddle. He’s somewhat the defensive quarterback. Plus, we know what he can do in terms of rushing the passer.”

Free agents Frank Chamberlin and Zeke Moreno will join DaShon Polk inside to provide depth behind Greenwood and Wong, while Charlie Anderson gives the team a dependable third option as an outside linebacker.

One year ago, the Texans didn’t have nearly the same backup power. With that type of versatility, it’s evident why Capers isn’t fretting over the change of guard.

“I like the guys we have there right now,” he said. “I feel like we have increased our speed and athletic ability. It’ll be interesting to watch them develop.”
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Old 05-19-2005   #2
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I think our linebackers are ready to play and do well. I think all of our linebackers have improved over last year and they will be a force to reckin with. Almost makes it sound like they have no plans for Boulware, though.
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Old 05-19-2005   #3
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I don't know about that. If you notice, they only list one reserve for the OLB position.
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Old 05-19-2005   #4
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Originally Posted by TexanFan881
...Almost makes it sound like they have no plans for Boulware, though.
The timing of this article (a day after Boulware comes in for a visit) makes it seem that way. Of course, this article could have been written prior to Boulware coming in. Who knows?
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Old 05-19-2005   #5
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This is the duo to watch next season:

Is it me or does it look like Babin has lost weight, and Peek has bulked up?
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Old 05-19-2005   #6
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Peek does look pretty freakin big there
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Old 05-19-2005   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Tejano
I don't know about that. If you notice, they only list one reserve for the OLB position.
smart man. I think the lack of experience and depth is going to be a big issue before long.
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Old 05-19-2005   #8
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Babin looks the same to me, but Peek looks twice the size he was last season! That's the gruesome twosome right there, QB's better watchout this season!
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Old 05-19-2005   #9
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Originally Posted by TEXANS84
Is it me or does it look like Babin has lost weight, and Peek has bulked up?
They have Babin listed at 6'2" 259 lbs and Peek at 6'3" 250 lbs. Coming out of college Peek was listed variously at 238 lbs to 246 lbs. So Peek has added a little mass over time with the Texans. Babin weighs the same as coming out of college but probably has a lower body fat % now after a full year in the Texans' fitness program.
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Old 05-19-2005   #10
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he looks there a lot broader in his shoulders, a lot more bulky too... i feel sorry for Buffalo, Peek is gonna tear up there LT, whoever it is
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Old 05-19-2005   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatBoyTim
smart man. I think the lack of experience and depth is going to be a big issue before long.
your hoping so aren't you. Peek + Babin = Leftwich
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Old 05-19-2005   #12
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I thnk that Peek bulked up, look at their arms. Babins are bigger at the biceps and thinner at the forearms, while Peeks look huge through out the entire arm. But their torsos look about the same size.
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Old 05-19-2005   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatBoyTim
smart man. I think the lack of experience and depth is going to be a big issue before long.
Wong provides depth on the outside. If Peek goes down, Wong could move outside and Moreno start inside.
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Old 05-20-2005   #14
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If Peek maintained his speed he had a year ago this will be a special year for him
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Old 05-20-2005   #15
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Wong does provide that depth but Wong is the starter and needs all the reps as a starter. I know you mentioned if Peek goes down but I don't think they would want to put all that time into Wong just to play OLB again.
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Old 05-20-2005   #16
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Pitts backs up the Tackles. That's just how it goes in todays NFL.
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Old 05-20-2005   #17
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“There’s no question about his athletic ability and his explosiveness,” Capers said of Peek. “We feel he’ll give us good pass-rush ability.”

The problem with Peek has been mental not physical. If he is up to speed on the mental part of his game, that would be a hugh plus for the team. We'll see. Thought Wong would make a great OSLB in our system. I think he is now where he has always belonged.
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Old 05-20-2005   #18
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I want Peek to bring the mental part up to speed but I don't want him to loose his intensity. To give an idea of what I mean, when the QB is sacked go ahead and jump up and pump up your team and the crowd, just don't take your helmet off and throw it.
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Old 05-21-2005   #19
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I know you all remember the preseason game when babin and Peek terrorized Vinny.T look for alot more of that this season I can't wait
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Old 05-21-2005   #20
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Quote:
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I know you all remember the preseason game when babin and Peek terrorized Vinny.T look for alot more of that this season I can't wait
I thought Vinny was our Moderator
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