United front By Carter Toole Houstontexans.com Chemistry is important in any sport, at any position. But perhaps it's most critical at offensive line, where five players have to consistently mesh as one. The Texans made numerous changes along their offensive line last spring, from a new position coach to a new scheme to new players and old players at new positions. The fall results were mixed. While Houston rushed for a franchise-record 1,882 yards, the Texans gave up 49 sacks, 13 more than the previous season. Now the Texans enter this spring with the same five starters along the offensive line. And while some may question that approach, head coach Dom Capers views the continuity as a strength heading into the 2005 campaign. "I think well have our best offensive line weve had since weve been here," Capers said. "Weve had a group of guys together. They know the scheme. Theyve worked together. I think we have more combinations. Youll see us work with different combinations. "Our goal is going to be to end up with the five best guys on the field when it comes time to play. I think we have more depth and more competition. I expect us to have a good offensive line." The player most under the proverbial microscope is Seth Wand, who created the domino effect of 2004. The Texans thought enough of Wand to elevate him to the starting left tackle slot, even though he had played virtually nothing but special teams as a rookie in 2003. That move shifted Chester Pitts from left tackle to left guard. The Texans were also working in a new right tackle (Todd Wade) and switching to a zone-blocking scheme under new offensive line coach Joe Pendry. That's a lot to pack into one off-season and training camp. The road is a little smoother this time around. "It's the first time everyone has been in the same position for one year," Wand said. "No one has switched around. Chester's a guard, I'm a tackle, we've been with Todd Wade for a year and also with Joe for a year. Everyone knows everyone's weaknesses and strengths." Wand admittedly had his struggles at the line's most prominent position. Quarterback David Carr was sacked five or more times on four occasions, including six times in Houston's season-ending loss to Cleveland. Not all of those sacks can be traced to Wand, but he knows that protecting Carr is his top priority. And he's feels better prepared to tackle that role. "Going into this year, I know exactly what I need to be doing," Wand said. "I definitely know what it's like to play in the NFL now. I know what I need to do to more or less secure my position and secure the fact that I'm the left tackle here and let David and everybody know that I can do it." Capers knows how crucial that left tackle position can be, but he also views the offensive line as a true unit and has always said that he wants to see the best five-man rotation on the field when the huddle breaks. "We have some guys that have played there," Capers said. "Chester Pitts started there for two years. During the coaching sessions, youll see Chester work out there at some point in time. Of course Victor Riley is coming in now. Hes played tackle and started at tackle for a couple of teams in this league. Even guys like Zach Wiegert have played out at tackle. So I think we have possibilities and well look at different combinations. "The whole goal is when it comes time to play we end up with the best five guys that give us the best chance to have a good offense." The Texans signed Riley, an unrestricted free agent from New Orleans, last week. Riley has 85 starts under his belt over seven seasons, all of them at right tackle. Todd Wade is firmly entrenched at that position. But Riley played left tackle in college and might push Wand there. "Well have to wait and see," Capers said. "Hes a big guy. He has played right tackle. Were working him some at guard right now. It probably just depends on how fast he picks up the system and what kind of condition he gets in. We really wont know until we get into training camp." Houston also added fifth-round draft pick Drew Hodgdon to back up center Steve McKinney. Wiegert returns for his third season at right guard. The Texans were one of just six teams last season to have a 3,000-yard passer (Carr), a 1,000-yard rusher (Domanick Davis) and a 1,000-yard receiver (Andre Johnson). But everybody knows that an offense truly clicks where the rubber meets the road. And if the offensive line can continue its improvement, those gaudy numbers will only increase. "David does his own thing, Andre does his own thing and Domanick does his own thing," Wand said. "But we have to work together. We all have to be on the same page."