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Old 08-09-2006   #1
MorKnolle
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Default Training Camp Evaluation and Preseason Preview

After getting to see several training camp practices, Coach C and I thought we'd put together our evaluation of the team so far and a few expectations for the pre season. On the grading scale, an A means that area is a definite strength of the team, possibly a top-5 group in the NFL, a B represents a good group, nothing special but definitely in the top half of the league, a C represents a group that is somewhat solid, it won't kill the team but it isn't really good, and anything worse is bad news.

QB
Lock for final roster: David Carr, Sage Rosenfels
On the bubble: Cody Pickett, Quinton Porter
Talent: B-
Potential: B+
Depth: C+

I personally think David Carr has a ton of untapped talent and he's looked immensely better in Training Camp than he has at any point in his career. The system fits him better, he has much better talent around him, and his confidence is soaring. However, the only game evidence we've seen so far prevents me from grading him anything higher than a B- at this point in time, but I'm very confident he'll end up being better this year and I think he has the potential to grow into about a B+ rating this year. As for his backups, Rosenfels has been in the league for 5 years but has seen limited action, Cody Pickett has seen very little action, and Quinton Porter is obviously a rookie. Rosenfels has looked pretty solid for a backup thusfar in training camp, but once again I have seen little of him in actual games to this point, and the others are obviously in the same boat so I can't rate the depth as anything better than average.

RB
Lock for final roster: Domanick Davis (maybe on PUP), Antowain Smith, Vernand Morency, Chris Taylor, Jameel Cook
On the bubble: Wali Lundy (likely practice squad if not active roster, likely not on active roster if DD is active)
Doubtful: Damien Rhodes (possible practice squad if Lundy is not on it), Nick Luchey
Talent: B-
Potential: B
Depth: C

Domanick Davis' knee situation drops the grade on this group, although this is a RB-friendly system. Outside of him, we are left with a trio of RBs that have looked quite good in Training Camp, although two of them have limited or no NFL experience and the third is on the downside of his career, although he has been a solid runner when given the chance and has been a part of several winning teams. Taylor has been one of the biggest surprises of camp and could end up being a starter for much of the year. I personally think Morency has the most talent among this group but Taylor is a little more of a power runner, ideally I think the two of them split the majority of the carries if Davis can't go, with Smith seeing some short yardage or change of pace carries. Lundy has looked fairly solid but unspectacular in camp and should make the active roster if Davis starts out on PUP and also likely allow for Rhodes to stay on practice squad, but if Davis is on the active roster I don't see us carrying 5 active RBs which would bump Lundy to practice squad (assuming no other team picks him up) and bump Rhodes into waivers. Jameel Cook looks like a good fit at FB for their system, he can block pretty well and he can get out and either run or catch the ball out of the back field. While this system has a history of producing solid rushers and production out of less-than-stellar RBs and I expect it to do likewise here, the talent of this group has relatively lmited potential so I can only grade that a solid B. I think we have pretty solid depth and will make use of it during the year, but since so much of it is unproven at this moment I can't grade that too high either.

WR
Lock for final roster: Andre Johnson, Eric Moulds, Kevin Walter
Probable: Derrick Lewis, Jerome Mathis (PUP to start the year)
On the bubble: Derick Armstrong, Jake Schifino, David Anderson
Doubtful: Kendrick Starling, Richie Ross, Donovan Morgan
Talent: A-
Potential: A
Depth: C

Andre Johnson and Eric Moulds are one of the top WR duos in the league. We are one of the few teams that have two legitimate #1 WRs, and both have looked phenomenal in Training Camp and David Carr is thoroughly enjoying having both of them together. Both should have great seasons, and Moulds should open things up for Andre and I expect him to have his best year yet, barring injury. As for depth, Kevin Walter has looked quite good so far as well and should be an excellent #3, although as with Carr he's shown fairly limited proof of stardom in real games thusfar. After Walter, Lewis has looked very good in Training Camp as a WR and KR, I'm quite sure he will make the final roster and will likely be our #4 WR option. Jerome Mathis will be out the first 6 weeks or more of the season, so he will start the year on PUP but should be activated after that, which might cause someone else to be dropped off the roster unless a spot opens up due to injury. I personally like Derick Armstrong, he has great hands, but he just can't create much separation from DBs at all and he's seen relatively few reps so far, so I'm not sure he makes the roster. Schifino has probably looked the next best at WR and has a good chance of making the roster depending on how many WRs they keep. David Anderson also has a decent chance, he is very small and not very fast but he's quick, he runs good routes, has good hands, and he's decent on special teams. Starling, Ross, and Morgan have not showed a whole lot of positive plays and I don't really see any of them making it, Ross probably has the best chance among them but I'd still be surprised to see him, although he or Anderson could be kept on practice squad. I think Johnson, Moulds, and Walter can end up being about as good as the Colts trio, maybe even as good, although they won't put up near the production because of different styles of offense. However, I am a little concerned about our depth and injuries to one or more of our top guys could really hurt us.

TE
Lock for final roster: Mark Bruener, Jeb Putzier
Probable: Bennie Joppru, Owen Daniels
Doubtful: Aaron Halterman, Patrick Hape
Talent: C+
Potential: B-
Depth: C+

Bruener and Putzier are definitely locks for our team. Bruener is still a premier blocking TE, and he has surprisingly decent hands, although he is really slow. Putzier is a nice pass catching TE and is an ok blocker, and he will help our passing offense a lot this year. Both Daniels and Joppru are also pretty good pass catching TEs that have a good mix of athleticism and hands, although both are somewhat small and not great at blocking. Both have seen time in the backfield as a FB/H-Back and will likely maintain that during the season. Halterman and Hape have also seen time in the backfield (especially Hape), but I think Joppru and Daniels have the upper hand as of this moment. Ben Steele was looking pretty nice until his season-ending injury. I think we finally have a solid group of TEs, but I can't really say they're anything better than average, although they will still be instrumental in our offense in many ways. We have decent depth and there isn't much of a drop off from Bruener and Putzier to Daniels and Joppru.

OL
Lock for final roster: Seth Wand, Chester Pitts, Mike Flanagan, Steve McKinney, Zach Wiegert, Charles Spencer, Fred Weary, Drew Hodgdon, Eric Winston
On the bubble: Ephraim Salaam, Brad Bedell, David Loverne
Doubtful: Chris Watton, Mike Brisiel
Talent: C
Potential: B-
Depth: C-

Our OLine looks a lot better than last year, and has looked better every day of Training Camp thusfar, especially in team drills where the whole line is working together. However, our individual talent is still not real great and I can't rate it anything better than average to slightly below average, although I think our scheme will help improve their production. Seth Wand looked horrible at the beginning of Training Camp, and he has been looking better more recently, but he's still the weak link on the OLine, and Spencer has been getting a lot of the 1st team reps at LT. I think Wand is more or less holding down the spot until Spencer is ready to be our guy there, spencer is much stronger, is at least as athletic, and seems much tougher, although he is still making some rookie mistakes and has some work to do before he's ready to be a solid starter. He has an amazingly strong punch and if he gets into the defensive player the battle is over, however he still doesn't sink his weight down quite well enough and tends to lean and reach for guys rushing around the edge rather than getting his body over there, but he's improving. Zach Wiegert has looked quite solid at RT, definitely one of the best at the 1-on-1 drills with the DLinemen and he's looked solid in the team drills too. He has been pretty injury prone in recent years, and if he does go down Eric Winston will be there to step in. Winston has also looked pretty good so far but he has made a lot of rookie mistakes and has some work to do before he's ready, although he's picking things up pretty quickly. He naturally has fairly short arms and he's letting guys get in close to him too much in pass protection, although he is very athletic for an OLineman and has looked solid in run blocking. He will be a very good OT for years to come, although he has some more work to do before I'm comfortable with him being a starter for us, so hopefully Wiegert lasts at least half the year. Winston has also seen some time at TE in goalline sets. Ephraim Salaam has looked ok but not very good, he definitely shouldn't be starting and is ok for depth, but definitely behind Winston and Spencer. Chester Pitts is currently our most talented OLineman and has played well. He has been solid in 1-on-1 drills and pass protection in team drills, and he's been good in run blocking and has shown good mobility and ability to get to the 2nd level. He's definitely a starter and needs to stay healthy for us. Steve McKinney has looked solid at times but bad at times. He has gotten destroyed by Weaver and Mario in 1-on-1s but has been pretty solid otherwise. He has looked pretty good in team drills, although he's not the OG he used to be. Fred Weary has seen a lot of action as McKinney has sat out some practices, and he's looked quite good in the opportunities he's been given. He has looked pretty solid in 1-on-1s and also is quite strong, and he's been pretty good in pass protection and run blocking in team drills. I wouldn't especially mind if he ends up taking McKinney's spot or if he has to step in for injury for him. Mike Flanagan has also looked quite good so far. He has been pretty good in 1-on-1s and has looked good in team drills, although he too has a recent history of some injury problems. Drew Hodgdon has not looked very good so far, he's been badly overmatched against our DLine in 1-on-1s and hasn't looked real solid in team drills against our 1st team defense. He needs to get a lot stronger and work on his technique some before I'm comfortable with him being our eventual starter. None of the other guys have looked very good, Loverne and Bedell have probably been the next best but hopefully if either one make the team they never have to play for us. I think our depth at OT is fairly good as Wand and Wiegert should be able to do pretty well until Spencer and Winston are ready to step in, but I am worried about our depth at interior OLine and that our C, RG, and RT have all had some injury issues.

Last edited by MorKnolle; 08-09-2006 at 12:49 AM.
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Old 08-09-2006   #2
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DL
Locks for final roster: Mario Williams, Anthony Weaver, Robaire Smith, Seth Payne, Antwan Peek, Jason Babin
Probable: Travis Johnson
On the bubble: N.D. Kalu, Alfred Malone, Earl Cochran
Doubtful: Phillip Alexander, Devarck Scandrett, John Chick, Jeff Charleston
Talent: A-
Potential: A
Depth: B

Our DLine is another strong group and will be a major improvement for our defense, and I think we can potentially have a top-5 unit, although I can't put us quite at the level of Philly or Carolina yet. We also have pretty good depth on our line, only two players would really hurt us if they went down with injuries. I'll start with the depth first on this unit. Alexander, Scandrett, Chick, and Charleston have 0 chance of making the team, they aren't real good and we have too much talent ahead of them. Alfred Malone had a decent year last year and looks pretty solid so far, he could beat out Travis Johnson depending on how the two of them do in the preseason. TJ definitely has more talent but has been out of shape, missed time for nagging injuries, and seems to have a motivation problem, hopefully Malone is still qualified for practice squad so we can keep him around in case of injuries. N.D. Kalu has looked quite solid as well, and has even seen some time at DT in pass situations. He has decent size and athleticism and seems to get after things pretty well, I think he'll fill our final roster spot for DLine. Earl Cochran has come on of late and looked pretty solid too, he's a little bigger and has pretty nice athleticism and can play inside or outside, I see him having an outside chance of making the roster. As for the locks, Robaire Smith and Seth Payne have both looked good so far and have both seen a lot of time on both the 1st and 2nd team defenses. They will play the same position on the line in their base defense, and both are about equally effective, Payne is probably a slightly better in pass rushing and Robaire is probably slightly better plugging holes against the run. Similarly, Antwan Peek and Jason Babin also play the same position (weakside DE) and are relatively equally effective. Both are looking much better being back on the DLine, and while Babin is probably the better overall DE and has gotten more reps with the 1st team, I still like Peek better as a pass rusher, and so far both have been in on nickel formations with Mario and Weaver in the middle. Anthony Weaver was a great pickup for us, and I like him being at DT. He has very good athleticism for a DT (would not be anything special as a DE), he has looked dominant in 1-on-1 drills and has been solid both against the run and pass in team drills. He is probably our most talented DLineman at this moment, Mario is still much more athletic but Weaver is ahead of him technique-wise. Mario has looked very good so far, and he still has a lot to learn. He has been dominant in 1-on-1 drills and very disruptive in team drills. He still doesn't know how to use his hands and everything real effectively, but Karm is working on him every day, frequently for 10+ minutes individually before practice, and other guys like Weaver, Payne, and even Wiegert have also pulled him aside at times and showed him a couple pointers, and Mario has been eager to learn. He is always approaching Karm at any break in the action to hear what he needs to work on, I love his attitude and work ethic. A great example that both Coach and I noticed during 1-on-1 drills a while ago, Mario was lined up at DT going against McKinney. He pushed right thru McKinney and ripped the bag down maybe 1.5 seconds after the snap, and while all the spectators at that end of the field were applauding and several of the players were shouting compliments at him, he came over to Karm and said (not a direct quote, but close enough) "I need to get there faster, the QB could have had a chance to do something with the ball." He has looked great and is still eager to learn and get better, and as he keeps improving various techniques and learning the nuances of the position he's only going to get better. Our DLine has good size, great athleticism, and is quite versatile and will give opponents many different looks and do so effectively. Weaver and Mario are the only two that I'm worried would really harm our line if they get hurt, as we have good depth at the other positions. These two will be in almost every down of the game and both should be dominant players for our defense. Overall our DLine is our best position on the team, and I can't wait to see them in action.

LB
Locks for final roster: Demeco Ryans, Morlon Greenwood, Shantee Orr, Sam Cowart
On the bubble: Barrett Green, Charlie Anderson, Saleem Rasheed
Doubtful: Dashon Polk, Troy Evans, Kenneth Pettway
Talent: C+
Potential: B
Depth: C-

Our LB crew has looked ok, although it is a little difficult to tell in non-tackling practices, and some of our better guys don't have a whole lot of game experience to grade them on. Unfortunately Rainer went down for the year with an injury, because he was looking very good in Training Camp and likely would have been our starting MLB this year. Demeco has been the 1st team MLB for the last week or so and has looked quite good at it, my only concerns are he doesn't break out of blocks real well and he is sometimes a little hesitant on running plays offtackle where he will sit back and wait to see what hole the RB hits rather than bursting thru the hole and going for a tackle in the backfield, although maybe that is what he's supposed to do for the system. Otherwise he has shown good recognition of plays, good athleticism, and he looks pretty nice in coverage, we will have to see if he tackles as well on this level as he did in college. Morlon Greenwood has seen most of the 1st team action at WLB and has looked pretty good but nothing special, we will have to wait until the games start to see if he will be a more effective player than last year. Barrett Green has seen a little action with the 1st team lately and has also looked ok, but not real good. Both are fairly small LBs but seem to move ok. Shantee Orr has gotten most of the playing time at 1st team SLB and has looked pretty good, especially when they bring him down on the line. He is ok in coverage on TEs or RBs and is good in pass rushing, but it remains to be seen how strong of a LB he can be in all game situations. Charlie Anderson has seen most of the 2nd team action at SLB and is probably one of the more athletic LBs on the team, although I question his toughness a little. Saleem Rasheed is pretty athletic and could be a decent LB and special teams player, while Polk, Evans, and Pettway are likely not going to make the final roster IMO. Ryans and Greenwood have been the primary LBs on nickel situations (was Rainer and Ryans before Rainer went out). We have a decent-looking core of LBs, many of them are pretty small but seem to move ok, although LBs are one of the hardest groups to judge in practice. I think we look fairly solid there but nothing special, and I am worried about our depth there as well.

DB
Locks for final roster: Dunta Robinson, Philip Buchanon, C.C. Brown, Glenn Earl, Demarcus Faggins (likely on PUP to start the year), Lewis Sanders
Probable: Dexter McCleon, Michael Stone, Jason Simmons
On the bubble: John Walker, Tramon Williams (probably a practice squad to start the year), Kevin Garrett
Doubtful: Kevin Curtis, Mark Estelle, Earthwind Moreland, Ramon Walker, Anthony Floyd
Talent: B-
Potential: B
Depth: C+

Dunta Robinson should be a Pro Bowl-caliber player for us this year, especially with our improved DLine gettine more pressure on opposing QBs. Philip Buchanon has looked a lot better in Training Camp than last year, and he's in a contract year, so hopefully he will continue improving and will benefit from the change in system and will be a solid CB to start opposite Dunta and won't be a pressure outlet like last year. He's missed some time the last few days with a nagging hamstring injury that hopefully won't bother him throughout the year. C.C. Brown has looked a lot better this year, he looks much better in coverage and seems to read plays better. Glenn Earl has looked pretty solid too and should be a pretty good starting S for us this year. Faggins hasn't seen much action this year as he was injured early on, so hopefully he'll be able to come back and make a positive impact later in the year. Lewis Sanders has looked pretty solid in the extra action he's seen i Faggins and Buchanon's absence. He could end up being a decent starting CB and should be a solid nickelback. Dexter McCleon has looked fairly solid so far. He's not real fast anymore so he can't cover deep routes real well but he's been pretty solid otherwise. Michael Stone and Jason Simmons have both looked pretty solid with the 2nd team defense and in nickel/dime situations and should make the roster. John Walker has looked pretty solid so far, as has Tramon Williams. Williams probably has the better hands and is probably slightly quicker, but Walker is bigger and has also seen time at FS as well as CB, so as of now I think he has a slight edge over Tramon. Kevin Garrett has also looked ok since joining the team late, although I think between him and Tramon/Walker that he will lose out and likely won't make the team depending on how many DBs they keep. Kevin Curtis, Mark Estelle, Ramon Walker, and Anthony Floyd haven't looked overly good thusfar and I don't see them making the team. Earthwind Moreland hasn't seen much action yet as he just joined the team, but I'm not counting on him making it. D-Rob is definitely the star of this group, and I think we have a decent crop of young talent, although much of it is pretty unproven thusfar. I think the improved line and system will help the DBs a lot this year, and as long as D-Rob stays healthy I think this group will be pretty solid, although not spectacular.

Preseason Preview
We have a couple of extra points to add on what to expect this preseason. I expect that we will see a lot reps for all the RBs with each of the teams. They aren't really settled on who will be the starter/main guy(s), so expect to see at least Smith, Taylor, and Morency get a lot of reps with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd teams, Lundy and Rhodes will probably see a decent amount of reps too although moreso with the 2nd and 3rd teams. I think we will see a similar rotation of TEs as there isn't a clear gap between the guys. Both of these groups will largely be decided by each players' performance in the preseason.
My personal prediction is that Morency will emerge as our #1 option at RB during the preseason, although I expect Taylor and probably Smith to get a lot of carries too.

I expect to see a lot of pressure created by our DLine, I think they are a solid group with a lot of athletic, high-motor guys, and that we will switch players around and give opposing offenses a lot of different looks with our front 4. Expect to finally see an aggressive scheme and playcalling from our defense.

Expect to see a lot of play actions and bootlegs. I'm not real confident with our OLine's ability to maintain a pocket for Carr at this point, but when they get the pocket moving and Carr on the move it should make it harder for opposing defenses to contain the passing game, and I expect a heavy dose of play action passes as well, especially if the running game is working effectively. Also expect to see a lot of quick slant routes, especially to AJ and Moulds, and then some deep routes worked in off of play actions. Bottom line, expect to see a much more competent and effective offensive system.
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Old 08-09-2006   #3
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Best thing I've read all off season Thanks for the hard work and the insight
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Old 08-09-2006   #4
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A great example that both Coach and I noticed during 1-on-1 drills a while ago, Mario was lined up at DT going against McKinney. He pushed right thru McKinney and ripped the bag down maybe 1.5 seconds after the snap, and while all the spectators at that end of the field were applauding and several of the players were shouting compliments at him, he came over to Karm and said (not a direct quote, but close enough) "I need to get there faster, the QB could have had a chance to do something with the ball."



Excellent post, thanks for the info. A lot of people (incuding me) are hungry for Texans' updates and reviews.
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Old 08-09-2006   #5
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Good job fellas.
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Old 08-09-2006   #6
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Excellent job guys, thanks for all of your time and input.
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Old 08-09-2006   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MorKnolle
We have a couple of extra points to add on what to expect this preseason. I expect that we will see a lot reps for all the RBs with each of the teams. They aren't really settled on who will be the starter/main guy(s), so expect to see at least Smith, Taylor, and Morency get a lot of reps with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd teams, Lundy and Rhodes will probably see a decent amount of reps too although moreso with the 2nd and 3rd teams.
Thanks you guys for all the work and good info. found this out and thought i would share about how they are going to do their evaluations for the preseason
Quote:
Antowain Smith will definitely be seeing playing time this Saturday, according to Kubiak. Vernard Morency, Wali Lundy, Chris Taylor and Damien Rhodes will not all get to play against the Kansas City Chiefs. Instead, two will join Smith against the Chiefs and the other two will play at St. Louis.

“We are going to make sure that they get a chance to play and not try to play four guys and end up with three or four carries each,” Kubiak said. “We aren’t going to do that; when they play we want them to get some reps.”

Who will play Saturday will be decided Thursday afternoon.
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Old 08-09-2006   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texan279
Excellent job guys, thanks for all of your time and input.

Couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks for your input and spare time you are giving up to post back what you see on the practice field for those of us who do not get to be there in person.
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Old 08-09-2006   #9
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good job guys ...
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Old 08-09-2006   #10
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Most excellent work. Nice job.
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Old 08-09-2006   #11
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Nice Work!
Thanks for the insight
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Old 08-09-2006   #12
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Your forgot special teams. jk great read, nice work.
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Old 08-09-2006   #13
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Had tickets to almost every TC this year again and was unable to attend any of them due to schedule conflicts so Much Thanks to you gusy for your reports and in depth coverage - Some of the best analysis stuff ive seen on the team this season.

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Old 08-09-2006   #14
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Thanks to both of you for the evaluation. It’s by far the most informative piece of Texans news this TC.

And for those who don’t already know there’s a show INSIDE TRAINING CAMP on the NFL channel. And of course they will be reporting on the Texans camp tonight 5pm.

Thanks again.

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Old 08-09-2006   #15
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Thanks guys. IMO, couldn't get much better reporting.
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Old 08-09-2006   #16
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excellent post.
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Old 08-09-2006   #17
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That was some fantastic reporting and analysis. Thank you for taking the time to put that together - especially for those of us that have not made it out to TC.
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Old 08-09-2006   #18
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The family and I just moved to Delaware 3 weeks ago due to relocation with my company. I have to tell you that I never quite grasped exactly how much Texan's Fans outside of Houston depended on everyone else's eye's and ear's till now. I appreciate everyone's detailed insight and please keep it coming. Awesome write up by the way!!
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Old 08-09-2006   #19
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Awesomely excellent post! Are you a scout or something?

It sounds like we are going to have a team that is good at passing and good at pass rushing. This is sort of unlike the usual model of running and stopping the run. Does anyone know how successful teams have been in the past when they excel in the passing game on both sides of the ball? It may be a dumb question, but it does seem like our clear strengths so far.
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Old 08-09-2006   #20
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Congrats to both you and Coach for a strong effort ! I enjoyed the read.
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