2013 DRAFT GUIDE
Texans expect defense to return to dominance

By KRISTIE RIEKEN - AP Sports Writer
    2013-08-27 15:47

HOUSTON (AP) - The Houston Texans advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs the last two seasons.

That simply won't do this year. The Texans are aiming much higher this season and anything less than reaching the Super Bowl will be a disappointment for a team loaded on both sides of the ball.

``I think it's obviously our main goal and our final goal, but there are a lot of steps that lead up to that,'' linebacker Brian Cushing said of reaching the Super Bowl. ``It's mentioned here and there, but ... there's a ton of steps before we start talking about the Super Bowl and it becomes a realization. It's one of those things that we have a lot of work to do before that's real.''

The return of Cushing should be a boost to a defense that added safety Ed Reed and features 2012 defensive player of the year J.J. Watt. The unit was at its best early last season before Cushing tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Week 5 and missed the rest of the year.

Cushing is healthy and can't wait to return to the field with his teammates when Houston opens the season on Sept. 9 at San Diego.

``Monday Night Football is a great stage to really perform on,'' Cushing said. ``It's a chance to go back out there and really establish our role as a dominant defense. To help with that is going to be a tremendous feeling.''

Five things to look for as the Texans prepare for the season opener:

WILL REED BE READY?: The Texans added Reed, a nine-time Pro Bowler, in the offseason to shore up their secondary. But as the season approaches, perhaps the biggest question for this team is if he'll be ready for the season-opener after April hip surgery. Coach Gary Kubiak said Reed visited the surgeon who performed the surgery to repair a partially-torn labrum this week and the coach said that they should know more about his status for Week 1 soon. If he can't go, rookie second-round pick D.J. Swearinger could be forced into action early.

ANDRE FINALLY HAS HELP: Andre Johnson has starred at receiver since he was drafted in the franchise's second season, but he's never had a big-time playmaker to line up on the opposite side. The Texans hope that will change this season after they chose a receiver in the first round of the draft for the first time since drafting Johnson when they selected DeAndre Hopkins with the 27th overall pick. Hopkins led Clemson with 82 receptions for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior last season. Hopkins sustained a concussion in the second preseason game, but should be OK for the opener. Houston is also excited about the development of Lestar Jean, Keshawn Martin and DeVier Posey, and Kubiak said that this is the best group of receivers he's had since he took over the team.

WHAT WILL WATT DO NEXT?: Watt has vowed to be even better this season than he was in 2012. It's difficult to image how he could do much more than he did a year ago after putting up eye-popping numbers in just his second NFL season. Watt led the league last year with 20 1/2 sacks and had 81 tackles. But perhaps most impressive was his incredible knack for batting down passes, 16 in all, which has earned him the catchy nickname J.J. Swatt (which he doesn't really like). He's unhappy that team struggled down the stretch last year, losing three of its last four regular-season games to miss out on a playoff bye and homefield advantage in the playoffs. ``We need to finish,'' he said. ``Last year, we didn't finish at the end of the season and that's exactly what we need to do this year.''

FOSTER'S FEEL: Running back Arian Foster came off the physically unable to perform list after struggling with a calf injury and back soreness for most of camp. He did not play in Houston's third preseason game and Kubiak said he won't play in the exhibition finale, leaving questions about how he'll perform in the opener. Kubiak said he thinks Foster will be fine without getting a preseason snap, and Foster agreed, saying he can get in synch with the offensive line in practice. With just one other experienced running back on the roster in Ben Tate, his health will be a key for the success of the offense. Foster ran for 1,424 yards and 15 touchdowns last year for his third straight 1,200-yard rushing season.

CAN SCHAUB WIN A BIG GAME: Quarterback Matt Schaub started every game last season and threw for more than 4,000 yards with 22 touchdowns. Despite those numbers, some question whether Schaub is the quarterback to take Houston to the next level. Last season was his playoff debut after he missed Houston's first playoff run with a foot injury. The Texans season ended with a 41-28 loss to New England. Schaub threw for 343 yards and two scores in that game, but also had an interception in the fourth quarter ending a drive which could have got Houston within a touchdown. That miscue had many fans and media blaming the quarterback for the loss. Kubiak has repeatedly expressed confidence in his quarterback and Schaub said he ``puts blinders on'' and ignores the outside criticism.

---

Online:

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Terrelle PryorApr 23 08:58a

The Seattle Seahawks acquired QB Terrelle Pryor from the Oakland Raiders Monday, April 21, in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick in this year's draft. He will compete with [ More ]

Matt RyanApr 22 10:53p

Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith is calling for major improvement on both sides of the line of scrimmage. He fears the team could bottom out for a second [ More ]

EJ ManuelApr 22 08:13p

Buffalo Bills QB EJ Manuel (knees) is healthy entering voluntary workouts and feels normal and had no limitations during the Tuesday, April 22 conditioning program. Bills head coach Doug [ More ]

Rolando McClainApr 22 07:53p

Updating a previous report, the Baltimore Ravens have officially placed LB Rolando McClain on the reserve-retired list for a second time. The Ravens will retain McClain's rights if he changes his mind again.

Eli ManningApr 22 07:33p

New York Giants QB Eli Manning (ankle) expects to be 100 percent for the beginning of training camp. Manning has no concerns about learning the Giants' new playbook, instead [ More ]

Ray RiceApr 22 04:43p

Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice looks great physically, according to strength and conditioning coach Bob Roguck. 'He's doing some things differently as far as his diet and so forth, [ More ]

David WilsonApr 22 02:43p

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) said he is still waiting for a clear MRI to be medically cleared, but is currently ahead of schedule.

Julio JonesApr 22 01:13p

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (foot) will be limited during the team's offseason workouts while he recovers from offseason foot surgery. 'Julio is participating with our athletic performance department,' [ More ]

Eli ManningApr 22 01:03p

New York Giants QB Eli Manning (ankle) said his ankle is progressing but he does not have a timetable for his return to the field. Manning is currently in a walking boot.

Stevie BrownApr 22 12:33p

New York Giants FS Stevie Brown (knee) said he feels like he is ready to go when the Giants hit the field after recovering from a serious knee injury. [ More ]

Will HillApr 22 10:33a

The New York Giants are likely to cut FS Will Hill after his third potential drug suspension.

Josh MorganApr 22 09:52a

Chicago Bears WR Joshua Morgan is likely to compete for the No. 3 or 4 wide receiver role this year, and he'll compete with WRs Domenik Hixon, Eric Weems [ More ]

Will HillApr 22 09:33a

New York Giants FS Will Hill is facing a year-long suspension after reportedly failing another drug test. He will appeal what would be his third drug-related suspension.

Kyle WilliamsApr 21 09:33p

The Kansas City Chiefs re-signed WR Kyle Williams Monday, April 21. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.

Colt AndersonApr 21 07:12p

The Indianapolis Colts signed free-agent FS Colt Anderson (Eagles) to an undisclosed deal Monday, April 21.

Jamar TaylorApr 21 06:43p

Miami Dolphins CB Jamar Taylor (groin) is healthy following hernia surgery and began offseason workouts with his teammates Monday, April 21. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said he expects [ More ]

Dustin KellerApr 21 05:42p

Eugene Parker, agent for free-agent TE Dustin Keller (knee), said Keller is ready to participate in offseason workouts when he signs with a team.

Eric FisherApr 21 05:12p

Kansas City Chiefs OT Eric Fisher (shoulder, hernia) said there is no timetable for his return following multiple surgeries, but he doesn't think he'll be out for long. 'He's [ More ]

Josh MorganApr 21 04:02p

The Chicago Bears have signed free-agent WR Joshua Morgan (Redskins) to a one-year deal. Financial terms were not disclosed.

A.J. GreenApr 21 03:32p

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green said he has added around six pounds this offseason, because he wants to be more physical as a way to beat coverage at the [ More ]

Michael VickApr 21 02:42p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith said he believes he will be the starting quarterback this upcoming season even though the team added QB Michael Vick this offseason. He [ More ]

Navorro BowmanApr 21 02:12p

The San Francisco 49ers plan to place LB NaVorro Bowman (knee) on the Physically Unable to Perform list when training camp begins, because he is not expected to be [ More ]

Eric FisherApr 21 02:02p

Kansas City Chiefs OT Eric Fisher (shoulder, hernia) underwent shoulder surgery and had a procedure to fix a sports hernia. He's currently rehabbing in Kansas City.

Tony CarterApr 21 01:22p

The Denver Broncos signed DT Mitch Unrein to his restricted free-agent tender Monday, April 21. CB Tony Carter, SS Duke Ihenacho and LB Brandon M. Marshall all signed their exclusive rights tenders.

Rolando McClainApr 21 01:02p

Baltimore Ravens LB Rolando McClain is retiring from the NFL again Monday, April 21. 'I gotta follow my heart. It ain't football. If football made me complete I would [ More ]

Tony RomoApr 21 12:42p

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back) will take part in the team's voluntary offseason program beginning Monday, April 21, according to a source. Players are allowed to lift weights, [ More ]

Marcus LattimoreApr 20 09:12p

San Francisco 49ers RB Marcus Lattimore (knee) is not expected to be restricted in any way when offseason workouts begin.

Michael EgnewApr 20 08:42p

The Miami Dolphins likely will add at least two more tight ends this offseason that will compete with TE Michael Egnew for a roster spot.

Armon BinnsApr 20 12:02a

Miami Dolphins WR Armon Binns is currently the team's No. 4 receiver, but the Dolphins have had discussions about WR Rishard Matthews replacing Binns at the spot, according to a source.

Tyrone CrawfordApr 20 12:02a

Dallas Cowboys DT Tyrone Crawford (Achilles') is expected to be ready for the team's offseason program, and he is expected to be a key piece to the defense this season.

M. Jones-DrewApr 20 12:02a

If healthy, Oakland Raiders RB Darren McFadden is expected to be the team's starting tailback with RB Maurice Jones-Drew as his backup.

Brian HartlineApr 20 12:02a

Miami Dolphins WR Brian Hartline (knee) is expected to be ready for the start of mini camp, according to a source. He suffered a torn posterior cruciate ligament in the 2013 regular season finale.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group