Following the first practice Saturday, members of the Houston Texans’ defense spoke on a variety of topics concerning their ’13 defensive outlook early on in camp.
Being just the second day of the camp, the Texans, like all other NFL teams, haven’t had much time to see exactly what they have to offer on the defensive side of the ball.
They do know, last season, their defense allowed 20.7 points per game (10th in NFL) with 323 yards allowed per game (7th in the NFL). Houston also allowed just 97.5 rushing yards per game, being one of only seven teams in the league to allow under 100 yards of rushing per game by their opponent.
The Texans were fifth in sacks last year with 44, as the NFL was led by the Denver Broncos with 52.
With those impressive numbers compiled by the Texans in ’12, remember, they did that with a number of injuries to their defense, including a season-ending injury to Brooks Reed.
Reed spoke with media Saturday about not only the defense, but his thoughts on how his season ended one year ago.
“It did (bother him how his season ended),” Reed said. “But now we have kind of moved on. I’ve moved on and right now we are just focused on the preseason and getting to that. Of course, our first game against San Diego.”
J.J. Watt, the ’12 AFC Defensive Player of the Year, was the biggest piece of keeping the Texans’ defense together last season, as they battled through numerous injuries, especially at the linebacker position.
“My confidence is obviously still there,” Watt said. “I think I’m more explosive, more agile. I’m a year older, so I’m a year smarter. I understand more, have more experience and I’ll be able to use that.
“I have great players around me. It always makes things easier for me when I’ve got guys like (DE) Antonio (Smith) getting sacks. Earl (Mitchell) is a great football player (at nose tackle). You’ve got Brooks (Reed) and Whitney (Mercilus) on the outside. Whenever you have good players around, they can’t focus all of their attention on one guy. They have to block us all.”
Watt, a defensive end, last year had 20.5 sacks with 81 tackles and four forced fumbles in is second year in the NFL. For his two-year career (32 regular season games) Watt has collected 137 total tackles and 26 sacks.
Watt also said there are high expectations with the Texans, and the young players know what to expect. Houston is coming off a 12-4 season, not including their Wild Card postseason win.
“They know. They know,” Watt said (of the expectations). “When you walk in this building, you know that there is one goal. There is one focus. We come on this practice field trying to get better every single day. If we do that, everything else will take care of itself.”
Besides linebackers and defensive linemen, Houston head coach Gary Kubiak spoke about the defensive backfield, including the duo of Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph and their growth this offseason.
“It was probably late February, one day, I went down to the weight room and those two were on the treadmill,” Kubiak said. “We hadn’t been through for a month. It’s impressive. Johnathan has been a tremendous presence for Kareem. Kareem has grown up a lot as a football player and a man, and it shows on the football field.”
(All quotes provided by Houston Texans transcripts at houstontexans.com.)