http://www.houstonchronicle.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/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."