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Old 08-03-2006   #1
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Default Babin, Peek compete for starting spot at end

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/disp...s/4090973.html

Both should get playing time at defensive end

Neither Jason Babin nor Antwan Peek is a textbook fit. Peek, in particular, is definitely on the small side for an NFL defensive end.

But compared with the square pegs in round holes they used to be as artificially downsized outside linebackers in Dom Capers' 3-4 defense, they're much better suited for the job each is now trying to win. Together, they should give the Texans' new 4-3 a fully fleshed-out, four-man front.

The competition between Babin and Peek at right end will be analyzed and scrutinized from every conceivable angle before the preseason ends. In fact, it could become the Texans' most closely watched position battle. However, the actual consequences of who starts and who comes off the bench appear minimal.

"We're going to have an eight-man rotation up front," coach Gary Kubiak promises, "so they're both going to need to play that position very well. Between Jason and Antwan, we have to have that position covered. You'd hope one is playing so well you can't get him off the field, but realistically, you've got to rotate people to be good. You've got to stay fresh."

Babin and Peek sound thrilled to have the opportunity, no matter how things shake out.

"This defense is attack-oriented," Peek said, citing the Texans' changed philosophy as much as the position change for his ramped-up enthusiasm. "We're constantly attacking, attacking, attacking."

"This feels so natural," Babin said of his return to the D-line. "It's unbelievable. And no more stupid diets."

Babin is 25 pounds heavier — essentially back to his college fighting weight — and 100 percent happier "putting his hand down," which is to say firing off from a set position. Peek, for his part, hasn't had as much luck beefing up for his retro role, but everybody agrees it's not critically important.

At 250 pounds, which is where he figures to stay until he stops sweating through two-a-day practices, Peek is still heavier than Indianapolis' Robert Mathis, who has turned into a relatively pint-sized, Pro Bowl-caliber sack specialist for the Indianapolis Colts.

"I've told him, 'Hey, Antwan, I don't care if you weigh 250 or 279,' " Kubiak said, " 'Just go play football.' "

Gladly, Peek replies.

"Football is about heart, about loving the game," he said. "If you don't love the game, you won't be successful no matter how big you are. Mike Singletary (the Chicago Bears Hall of Famer) was a smallish guy, and look at his career.

"And Robert Mathis — he's a prime example. You can tell that guy loves the game. He comes out and plays with passion every day. That's what I can be myself."

The conventional wisdom holds that Babin will emerge as the first- and second-down guy, with Peek coming on in passing situations. The former is more fundamentally sound, whereas Peek tends to pin his ears back and bull rush, proper technique be hanged.

It helps considerably that neither seems unduly hung-up about who starts.

"This is a team game," Peek said. "Your twos (backups) are supposed to be able to come in and play just as good as your starters. We can be a two-headed monster. Tackles are going to have problems with both of us. When you have guys fresh all the time, there's going to be pressure on the quarterback."

Peek, who calls himself the defense's resident "utility man," may still see some occasional linebacker duty. But Babin assumes — and definitely hopes — he is done forever with that position. He was miserable in his previous Texans incarnation, always "feeling out of place."

"I think you could ask anybody who knows me, and they'd tell you I'm happier in this situation," Babin said. "This defense, playing this position — it fits my attitude. Reading, diagnosing, pass coverage — I did it. I gave it my best, but this is where I should be playing."

Babin feels physically stronger at his current 265 pounds — "I'm still eating healthy; just with bigger portions" — but he admits that, because of the extra bulk, he'll need Peek's help.

"I can't play 70, 80 plays a game at this weight," Babin said. "Sure, somebody gets to be the starter, and somebody doesn't. That's the way it goes. But there's going to be plenty of opportunities for both of us. This is the NFL. Guys get nicked, hurt. Things can change pretty quick. There's no reason for either of us to hang our heads, whatever happens."

As for how the competition is affecting their relationship, Babin said: "We're not being (jerks) to each other. We both want to get better. We both want to get paid."

"We're friends," Peek said. "We're competitors. But at the end of the day, we're teammates. We've got to come together for the good of the team and help us win some ballgames. It's the coaches' decisions to do what they have to do. I'm sure what they decide will be the best for the team."

Music to Kubiak's ears.

"The pressure's on us to get them in position to make plays," he said. "If we have success and do things right, our guys will all have smiles on their faces."
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Old 08-03-2006   #2
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I like that. Attacking oriented. From all the quotes I've read in the paper and elsewhere, it seems like the coaching staff under Capers was a complete joke. Only time will tell if Kubiak and his staff will be any better, but I have a feeling he will be.
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Old 08-03-2006   #3
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Originally Posted by TexanSam
I like that. Attacking oriented. From all the quotes I've read in the paper and elsewhere, it seems like the coaching staff under Capers was a complete joke. Only time will tell if Kubiak and his staff will be any better, but I have a feeling he will be.
I agree, I also like the part about the 8 man rotation on the line and keeping people fresh, I really liked the comment about the "two headed monster" though. Babin, Williams, Weaver, Payne, Robaire, and Peek rotating on the line, I think we might get to see what a real defense looks like this season!
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Old 08-03-2006   #4
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Originally Posted by texan279
I agree, I also like the part about the 8 man rotation on the line and keeping people fresh, I really liked the comment about the "two headed monster" though. Babin, Williams, Weaver, Payne, Robaire, and Peek rotating on the line, I think we might get to see what a real defense looks like this season!
With all the depth on the defensive line, are Travis Johnson and N.D. Kalu going to be seeing playing time. Granted, there will probably be a few injuries (a guy might miss a quarter or so), but assuming they all stay healthy the whole season I wonder what the rotation will be like. I want to see the depth charts!!
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Old 08-03-2006   #5
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Originally Posted by TexanSam
With all the depth on the defensive line, are Travis Johnson and N.D. Kalu going to be seeing playing time. Granted, there will probably be a few injuries (a guy might miss a quarter or so), but assuming they all stay healthy the whole season I wonder what the rotation will be like. I want to see the depth charts!!
I would think Williams, Babin, Peek, Weaver, Payne, Robaire, Kalu, and maybe TJ would be the 8 man rotation on the line. Only one I wouldn't be sure of is TJ at this point.
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Old 08-03-2006   #6
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An 8 man rotating D line!?! Our boys are gonna be fresh and aggressive...love the sound of that after what we've been thru the last 4 friggin years.

One thing I predict right now...offenses are gonna throw in some no huddle to stop that rotation from happening as often as we try.

And then we'll adjust.


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Old 08-03-2006   #7
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Depth is something the Texans have never had before. The top 6-7 D-lineman could play a lot of plays or start for almost every other NFL team. What did we have last year maybe 2-3. Talented depth is the best thing about this year, there are always injuries and this year they are a little less of a concern with the DLine we have now.
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Old 08-03-2006   #8
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"At 250 pounds, which is where he figures to stay until he stops sweating through two-a-day practices, Peek is still heavier than Indianapolis' Robert Mathis, who has turned into a relatively pint-sized, Pro Bowl-caliber sack specialist for the Indianapolis Colts."
*****************************************
We had a fairly lengthy exchange the other day on another thread when I said that John "Hollywood" McClain had said on SR 610 that Peek's weight had dropped to 250, and many others disagreed including one poster who said he personally overheard Peek himself say he was at 266. Maybe Peek said that in the context of that comment "I'd like to get to 266" ?
But to further muddy the waters about these players weight, Robertson says
in this article that Babin has added 25 pounds and he's now at 265. But backin out that 25 would suggest that Babin was only at 240 last year? So I'm
still confused, because I've not heard anywhere about him playing at the low
a number ever ?
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Old 08-03-2006   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nunusguy
"At 250 pounds, which is where he figures to stay until he stops sweating through two-a-day practices, Peek is still heavier than Indianapolis' Robert Mathis, who has turned into a relatively pint-sized, Pro Bowl-caliber sack specialist for the Indianapolis Colts."
*****************************************
We had a fairly lengthy exchange the other day on another thread when I said that John "Hollywood" McClain had said on SR 610 that Peek's weight had dropped to 250, and many others disagreed including one poster who said he personally overheard Peek himself say he was at 266. Maybe Peek said that in the context of that comment "I'd like to get to 266" ?
But to further muddy the waters about these players weight, Robertson says
in this article that Babin has added 25 pounds and he's now at 265. But backin out that 25 would suggest that Babin was only at 240 last year? So I'm
still confused, because I've not heard anywhere about him playing at the low
a number ever ?
Babin weighed about 275-280 I believe in college and dropped 15-20 pounds or so for the combine I believe. I could have my numbers all screwed up here.
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Old 08-03-2006   #10
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Originally Posted by nunusguy
...But to further muddy the waters about these players weight...
Weight is an odd thing right now. Under Capers I think the player had to meet goal weights toward the end of camp. This wasn't too bad for the bigger guys, because they typically lost quite a bit of weight during camp even if they were trying to keep it on.

Kubiak wanted the players at weight at the start of camp. I don't know if the players find it easier to maintain their slimmed down weight than they did maintaining weight when they came in heavier. I'll be interested in finding this out.

Some players' performance may have been affected early in camp because they lost weight pretty quickly in the last month or two. They are a) playing lighter and quicker b) playing with less strength/energy due to the weight loss. Combine this with the weather, and the first weekend of camp was very tough on some as they acclimated.
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Old 08-03-2006   #11
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Terrific article. Kubiak's philosophy has seeped into the player's vernacular which is a great first step. The next step is to see some success on the field to make this a viable and lasting program that becomes plug and play with your players.

I have never been as excited except for our inaugural game. Pre season matters this year, make no mistake about it.
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Old 08-03-2006   #12
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Terrific article. Kubiak's philosophy has seeped into the player's vernacular which is a great first step. The next step is to see some success on the field to make this a viable and lasting program that becomes plug and play with your players.

I have never been as excited except for our inaugural game. Pre season matters this year, make no mistake about it.
I am hoping that the Chiefs fans will be the ones saying "Hey, chill, its only preseason!"
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Old 08-03-2006   #13
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What I like about this article -- other than it echoes everything I've said to this point -- is the apparent emphasis on teamwork and the rotating defensive line. Not only do we have a ridiculous amount of depth on our defensive line this year, but our coaches seem intent on maximizing its potential. I like the rotating idea.

As KT said, preseason matters this year.

Oh, and I have a very hard time believing Peek is only 250. I would still put him upper 250s-low 260s. Possible that I am wrong but I am pretty convinced on this one. Regardless, that's not that light for an NFL DE and I believe Peek will receive a lot of his reps in passing situations, where he will be a speed rusher. I believe they are targeting Babin as a first and second down end.
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Old 08-03-2006   #14
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I guess we could say the Texans had a rotating O & D line last year. This year it is depth not injuries and so so players. Injuries are always going to be a factor, but it would be nice if they were few this season so players and fans could see what team could do with all parts clicking.
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Old 08-03-2006   #15
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I vote for Peek, just like Kubiak said you have to love the game and have heart, which Peek does, he is always going to give you a 110% no matter what, that's what counts, I still think Babin is worried about his Deer lease in south Texas and not playing Football to his fullest....
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Old 08-03-2006   #16
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I vote for Peek, just like Kubiak said you have to love the game and have heart, which Peek does, he is always going to give you a 110% no matter what, that's what counts, I still think Babin is worried about his Deer lease in south Texas and not playing Football to his fullest....
True, Peek might give a 110%, but that percentage is all about bull-rushing to the QB and being pushed to the outside. Peek doesn't have the disipline to play the run very well. Babin on the other hand, is more of a finess type player IMO. I'm sure Babins focused 100% on football right now. If he wasn't, I doubt he would even be considered a starter.
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Old 08-03-2006   #17
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I still think Babin is worried about his Deer lease in south Texas and not playing Football to his fullest....
Never will understand why people feel the need to take cheap shots at their non-favorite players.

PS--it is a ranch in east texas.
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Old 08-03-2006   #18
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Never will understand why people feel the need to take cheap shots at their non-favorite players.

PS--it is a ranch in east texas.
It is a strain akin to Carr's religion effecting his play.

What is important is that they and we have a good work/life balance in order to lead a successful life, with success being defined by the individual through achievable goals.
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Old 08-03-2006   #19
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Originally Posted by jerek
What I like about this article -- other than it echoes everything I've said to this point -- is the apparent emphasis on teamwork and the rotating defensive line. Not only do we have a ridiculous amount of depth on our defensive line this year, but our coaches seem intent on maximizing its potential. I like the rotating idea.

As KT said, preseason matters this year.

Oh, and I have a very hard time believing Peek is only 250. I would still put him upper 250s-low 260s. Possible that I am wrong but I am pretty convinced on this one. Regardless, that's not that light for an NFL DE and I believe Peek will receive a lot of his reps in passing situations, where he will be a speed rusher. I believe they are targeting Babin as a first and second down end.

Yeah, Jerek, I'm with you on this one. I weigh 250, granted I have more fat than Peek but am not a "fat guy", but he is flat-out bigger than me. Taller, broader in the shoulders, bigger arms, bigger thighs, just bigger. I would have guessed 260-265 or so with a very low body fat %. If he weighs 250 his body fat must be in the 4-6 range, amazing athlete.
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Old 08-03-2006   #20
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Originally Posted by infantrycak
Never will understand why people feel the need to take cheap shots at their non-favorite players.

PS--it is a ranch in east texas.
I agree, from what Babin was quoted saying he seems to be really excited about going back to DE and I for one am anxious to see him play DE for us. He played well when he played out of a 3 point stance last season.
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