http://prod.www.texans.clubs.nfl.co...e-in-3-4/8e959f33-9262-4575-8474-f976303d29ab The last time Connor Barwin was on the field at Reliant Stadium, it wasnt a pretty sight. He was on his back writhing in pain, his right ankle dangling from his leg a way right ankles arent meant to dangle. That was Week 1 of last season, and its a far cry from where Barwin is now. Almost fully recovered from that gruesome injury, Barwin was back in Houston on Monday to check in with the Texans medical staff. He has spent the offseason rehabbing at the University of Cincinnati, lifting weights and running with the UC football team while taking classes toward his degree. Its going really well, Barwin said of his rehab. Ive been running for six weeks now, and its getting better every week. I think (in) another month, two months, Ill be full-go. The strengths almost there. Theres just a little bit at the top end that I can tell is not quite 100 percent yet, and thats normal. If Barwin does make a full recovery by the start of May, thatll give him plenty of time to regain his speed and explosiveness by the start of the 2011 season. Thats a good thing, because the Texans have big plans for their 2009 second-round pick. Barwin, who will be an outside linebacker in Wade Phillips 3-4 defense, was primed for a breakout season in 2010 before he was injured in the first quarter against the Colts on Sept. 12. To be honest with you, people have no idea how big of an injury that was for our team, Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. We had big expectations for Connor. Our defense had built a bunch of packages for him going into the season, and we lose him before the first half of the first game. Its funny: It wasnt talked about very much as we went through the season as we struggled on defense, but I can tell you today it was huge. We have high expectations for him. Hes a very big part of the future of this franchise, and of Wades defense also. In 2009, Barwin led all rookie defensive ends with 4.5 sacks and was a standout performer for the Texans on special teams. He bulked up significantly in the offseason that followed in the hopes of becoming an every-down player. He had made big strides during the offseason and during training camp, defensive line coach Bill Kollar said. We really saw him getting better, playing stronger, the whole works, and then to end up doing what he did in that first game really turned out to be pretty disheartening. We were figuring that hed really give us a lot of good pass rush last year, and when we lost him in the first game, it really ended up hurting us quite a bit. So were hoping that hes back at full-go this year. Hes moving to outside linebacker and then hell be a defensive end in nickel situations rushing the passer, but we hope that he can get back and make those big strides that we were hoping for last year. Barwins athleticism and quickness make him a natural fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He was a walk-on basketball player at Cincinnati and played tight end for his first three seasons in college. As a senior, he moved to defensive end and set an NCAA record for first-year defensive players with 12 sacks. Barwin wowed NFL scouts at the 2009 Senior Bowl, where he worked out at tight end and defensive end. He also put on a show at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, running a 4.66 in the 40-yard dash and posting a vertical jump of 40.5 inches. The guys really got outstanding movement, very fluid and stuff, and hes a smart guy, so I dont think for him itll be much of a transition, Kollar said. It always takes a little bit of time to get it when youre playing a new position and learning new stuff, but I dont think hell have a problem at all. Barwin does have some experience standing up and dropping into coverage at Cincinnati a little bit, in some games as a rookie and in practice last year before he got hurt. He knows theres a learning curve ahead, but hes extremely excited about moving to his new position and playing under Phillips. This is a huge opportunity for me, he said. Im going to make sure I do everything I can this offseason to be ready to do what Im asked to do in this defense. I honestly cant wait to get started. Its something that is just a huge opportunity for me, to be playing outside linebacker. Thats what a lot of people feel fits my skill set better, so hopefully those people are right. Once Barwin is medically cleared, he plans to resume the rigorous boxing training that he did last offseason. For now, its all rehab and two more weeks of upper-level history classes until his ankle and calf are back to 100 percent. I cant say enough about how much were counting on him, but the key right now is him getting back to total health, Kubiak said. Hes not quite there yet; its still going to take a few more months. But hes been working at it. He works hard at what he does, works hard in the classroom, loves to play. Im looking forward to him coming back.