Houston Texans Doing the Texas Two-Step Again


The Houston Texans sit alone atop the AFC South just days after defeating their division rival the Tennessee Titans. Now the Texans have to re-shuffle players – except this time its for a good reason. The Texans have at least one player returning from an injury, good news amidst all of the players that they have lost to injuries this season.

Andre Johnson and James Casey

WR Andre Johnson returned to practice today and participated in every drill. He is still recovering from his surgery and appeared to be moving slowly after running routes. While he wants to return to the team as soon as possible he is still remaining realistic about the recovery process.

In his post-practice interview today Johnson made the following statements:

"I didn’t feel like [as good as] I expected to feel……I still feel some tugging at my leg……It’s just the process that you have to go through, you know with the healing and that…Today is not, you know, where we wanted to be [physically]…The way I feel today, I probably won’t play Sunday."

Apparently the recovery process is taking longer than he had expected (or hoped) that it would. However, the way I see it, Johnson needs to take his time returning to the team. They have proven that they can still manage to put up big points without him and, for his health and for the sake of the team, he should not rush himself back onto the field.

Do not think, for a minute, that Johnson is being “soft”, “apprehensive”, or any other negative connotation that you could associate with an NFL player. He was very adamant about returning to the team and being a contributor to the team’s success. Still, the recovery process should be approached carefully so as to ensure that he does not aggravate or worsen the injury.

Even Coach Kubiak told Johnson to “be smart” during practice today. In the meantime, Johnson will be listed as day-to-day for the Texans.

FB James Casey has been nursing a pectoral injury that was not all that dissimilar to that of OLB Mario Williams. Obviously the injury was not nearly as severe as that of Williams but it was an injury nonetheless.

However, Casey fully participated in practice today and is projected to play against the Jaguars this Sunday. I would assume that Lawrence Vickers will still start at the fullback position but Casey will begin to rotate into the position as he works back into the team.

Casey’s contributions to the team have been almost invaluable this season. He has proven that he can not only block against the run and pass rush but that he can also break out for a huge play. Having Casey back on the roster makes the Texans a more unpredictable team capable of attacking with multiple offensive schemes.

Troy Nolan and Quintin Demps

As I reported yesterday, Troy Nolan will be replacing Danieal Manning after the starting safety was injured in this week’s game.

Meanwhile, Quintin Demps (who was called up yesterday) practiced today. He will be on the depth chart somewhere behind Nolan as he competes with Shiloh Keo and Brandon Harris for the number two spot. Rumor currently has it, though, that Brandon Harris is extremely “football” intelligent and will be hard to compete against for that second spot on the roster.

Coach Kubiak reported today that Demps, Sherrick McMannis, or Jacoby Jones will return kickoffs against the Jaguars this Sunday. Manning was the primary kickoff returner and was backed up by Trindon Holliday who was waived to make room on the roster for Demps.

Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed

While not all Texans fans were aware of this, Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin were switched against the Titans. Barwin played the WILL and Reed the SAM. This moved proved to be effective as Barwin recorded two tipped passes and two tackles at the position while Reed had four tackles and his first career sack.

Barwin will most likely not be used in the same capacity as Mario Williams was. Barwin will not be given the opportunity, in my opinion, to rush the passer 95% of the time while limiting the amount of time that he drops into pass coverage. Barwin has more speed than Williams and will most likely drop into pass coverage about 15-20% of the time.

Reed, on the other hand, has a more explosive first step than Barwin. His ability to get around the edge needs some refining but he still manages to find the quarterback more often than not. On many of the plays against the Titans Reed was only a second away from blowing up many plays. If he can improve his ability to get off the snap, come around the edge, and hone in on the quarterback then he will be a force to be reckoned with.