2014 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

Thaddeus LewisJul 22 10:33a

Buffalo Bills QBs Jeff Tuel and Thaddeus Lewis are alternating series with the second unit in team drills Tuesday, July 22.

Tyler BrayJul 22 09:13a

Kansas City Chiefs QBs Tyler Bray and Chase Daniel are likely to compete for one roster spot with QB Aaron Murray likely to make the team behind starting QB Alex Smith.

Navorro BowmanJul 22 12:13a

San Francisco 49ers LB NaVorro Bowman (knee) will likely return to action in Week 9 after the team's Week 8 bye, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.

Jacques McClendonJul 21 11:03p

Jacksonville Jaguars OG Jacques McClendon is the frontrunner to start at right guard heading into training camp, according to Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. OG Brandon Linder is the other candidate for the starting job.

Aaron ColvinJul 21 10:53p

Jacksonville Jaguars CB Aaron Colvin (knee) will begin training camp and the regular season on the Physically Unable to Perform list as he recovers from a torn anterior cruciate [ More ]

Jeromy MilesJul 21 10:03p

Baltimore Ravens S Jeromy Miles has seen some reps with the first-team defense this offseason and is a dark horse candidate to win the starting free safety job, according to ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley.

Brandon MosleyJul 21 09:43p

New York Giants OT Brandon Mosley will be given the first chance to start in place of OG Chris Snee when the first-team offensive line takes the field Tuesday, [ More ]

T.J. GrahamJul 21 09:23p

Buffalo Bills WR T.J. Graham had a pass fall through his hands after beating his defender on a deep route in camp Monday, July 21.ESPN.com's Mike Rodak believes Graham [ More ]

Sammy WatkinsJul 21 09:02p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins made several big plays in practice Monday, July 21, according to ESPN.com's Mike Rodak. Watkins beat CB Leodis McKelvin deep, hauled in a pass [ More ]

Marvin JonesJul 21 07:03p

Cincinnati Bengals QB A.J. McCarron (shoulder), WR Marvin Jones (ankle) and CB Onterio McCalebb (knee) have been placed on the Non-Football Injury list.

Devon StillJul 21 07:03p

Cincinnati Bengals OG Clint Boling (knee), LB Marquis Flowers (hamstring), P Kevin Huber (neck), WR Colin Lockett (hamstring), DT Zach Minter (back), DT Devon Still (back) and WR Ryan [ More ]

Cordy GlennJul 21 06:53p

Buffalo Bills OT Cordy Glenn (illness) does not have a timetable for his return at this point, according to head coach Doug Marrone. 'I don't know that. It's a [ More ]

Mike CaussinJul 21 06:43p

The Washington Redskins have signed free-agent TE Mike Caussin (Bills). Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The team also waived LS Kyle Nelson.

Cheta OzougwuJul 21 06:32p

New Orleans Saints DE Cheta Ozougwu (undisclosed) and DT John Jenkins (pectoral) have been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Brennan WilliamsJul 21 06:22p

Houston Texans OT Brennan Williams (undisclosed) has been waived with a failed physical designation.

Brian CushingJul 21 06:22p

Houston Texans DT Louis Nix (undisclosed), LB Brian Cushing (undisclosed) and LB Trevardo Williams (undisclosed) have been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Eric HaggJul 21 06:13p

Denver Broncos SS Eric Hagg has informed the team that he has decided to retire from professional football.

Dominique EasleyJul 21 05:23p

New England Patriots DT Dominique Easley, RB Roy Finch, LB Deontae Skinner and OT Chris Martin have been placed on the team's non-football injury list.

Alfonzo DennardJul 21 05:23p

New England Patriots CB Alfonzo Dennard (shoulder), WR Aaron Dobson (foot), WR Jeremy Gallon (undisclosed), DT Tommy Kelly (knee) and WR Matthew Slater (undisclosed) will begin training camp on [ More ]

Leon HallJul 21 05:12p

Cincinnati Bengals DT Geno Atkins (knee) and CB Leon Hall (Achilles') will begin training camp on the team's physically unable to perform list.

Jon BeasonJul 21 05:12p

New York Giants LB Jon Beason (foot) will begin training camp on the team's physically unable to perform list.

John JerryJul 21 05:02p

New York Giants OT William Beatty (leg), OG John Jerry (knee) and WR Mario Manningham (knee) will be limited when training camp starts.

Kraig UrbikJul 21 04:33p

Buffalo Bills OT Chris Hairston and OG Kraig Urbik saw first-team repetitions at right guard Monday, July 21.

Dezmon BriscoeJul 21 04:03p

The Dallas Cowboys signed free-agent WR Dezmon Briscoe (Redskins), according to his agent. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Phillip HuntJul 21 03:12p

Former Philadelphia Eagles DE Phillip Hunt (knee) has recovered from anterior cruciate ligament surgery and should begin workouts with teams in the near future.

Chris ConteJul 21 02:12p

Chicago Bears FS Chris Conte said he feels good as he recovers from shoulder surgery, but is unsure of his availability for the start of training camp. He could [ More ]

Alameda Ta'amuJul 21 01:53p

Arizona Cardinals DT Alameda Ta'amu (knee) and FS Tyrann Mathieu (knee) are candidates to be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list at the start of training camp.

David WilsonJul 21 01:42p

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) should be able to help the offense if he is able to stay healthy this upcoming season, according to former offensive coordinator [ More ]

Chris SneeJul 21 01:42p

Updating a previous report, New York Giants OG Chris Snee has officially announced his retirement from professional football.

Garrett CelekJul 21 01:22p

San Francisco 49ers TEs Derek Carrier and Garrett Celek will compete for the No. 3 tight end spot during training camp.

De'Anthony ThomasJul 21 01:22p

Kansas City Chiefs RB De'Anthony Thomas spent most of his time with the running backs during practice Monday, July 21. Thomas run a lot of passing routes out of [ More ]

Christopher OwensJul 21 01:13p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee), WR Kyle Williams (knee), WR A.J. Jenkins (hamstring) and CB Christopher Owens (hamstring) participated in practice Monday, July 21.

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