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

Aldon SmithApr 17 09:32p

The San Francisco 49ers do not plan on releasing LB Aldon Smith this offseason. Smith is expected to be suspended at the beginning of the season, but the length [ More ]

Chris JohnsonApr 17 08:52p

New York Jets RB Chris Johnson (knee) said he expects to receive medical clearance to resume football activities in the near future. He underwent knee surgery in January but [ More ]

Sebastian VollmerApr 17 08:42p

New England Patriots OG Logan Mankins said OT Sebastian Vollmer (leg) has looked good this offseason while he recovers from the broken leg he suffered during the 2013 season.

Chris SneeApr 17 07:32p

New York Giants OG Chris Snee (hip, elbow) is expected to participate when offseason workouts begin next week even though he is not 100 percent.

Rolando McClainApr 17 06:02p

The Baltimore Ravens reinstated LB Rolando McClain from the reserve/retired list Thursday, April 17.

Russell AllenApr 17 05:02p

The Jacksonville Jaguars released LB Russell Allen, WR Jabin Sambrano and DEs Will Pericak and D'Aundre Reed Thursday, April 17.

Chad JohnsonApr 17 02:22p

Free-agent WR Chad Johnson (Patriots) signed with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League Thursday, April 17.

Brian CushingApr 17 01:32p

Houston Texans LB Brian Cushing (knee) was medically cleared Thursday, April 17.

LaMichael JamesApr 17 10:04a

According to a league source, the San Francisco 49ers have been shopping RB LaMichael James. He finds himself behind RBs Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and perhaps Marcus Lattimore on [ More ]

Mike BrownApr 16 11:33p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Mike Brown signed his exclusive-rights free agent deal Wednesday, April 16.

Eli ManningApr 16 11:33p

Former New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said in a radio interview this week that it is 'ludicrous' to say QB Eli Manning is declining. 'There's been no [ More ]

Sidney RiceApr 16 08:03p

The Seattle Seahawks are re-signing WR Sidney Rice to an undisclosed one-year deal Wednesday, April 16, according to sources.

Dwayne BoweApr 16 07:03p

Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe pleaded guilty Wednesday, April 16, after being arrested last November for marijuana possession. He pleaded guilty to lesser charges of littering and defective [ More ]

Arian FosterApr 16 04:53p

The Houston Texans may consider selecting a running back during the middle rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft that could become RB Arian Foster's backup in the future.

Chris JohnsonApr 16 04:43p

The New York Jets signed RB Chris Johnson to a two-year deal worth $8 million, with another $1 million in incentives available.

Terrelle PryorApr 16 04:33p

The Oakland Raiders hope to trade QB Terrelle Pryor before the start of the offseason program Monday, April 21.

Clay MatthewsApr 16 04:13p

Green Bay Packers LB Clay Matthews (thumb) said he likely will be limited during offseason workouts because of his surgically repaired thumb.

Chris JohnsonApr 16 03:53p

The New York Jets will use RBs Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory as a tandem this upcoming season and have them split carries. RB Bilal Powell will be the team's No. 3 running back.

Dan SkutaApr 16 03:33p

San Francisco 49ers LB Dan Skuta (foot) is not expected to need surgery on the foot injury that bothered him during the 2013 season. Skuta met with a foot [ More ]

Gus BradleyApr 16 02:53p

Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley watched Georgia QB Aaron Murray participate in his pro day Wednesday, April 16.

Reggie BushApr 16 02:13p

Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said RBs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell likely will receive similar workloads this upcoming season than they did during the 2013 season. Bush [ More ]

Cheta OzougwuApr 16 01:53p

The Chicago Bears have waived DE Cheta Ozougwu.

Mike JamesApr 16 12:53p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Mike James (ankle) said he is happy with the progress he has made in his recovery from an ankle injury and that he has been [ More ]

Carson PalmerApr 16 12:43p

Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer said he would understand if the team selects a quarterback during the 2014 NFL Draft, because he knows the team has to think about [ More ]

Josh FreemanApr 16 12:23p

The New York Giants have agreed to terms with free-agent QB Josh Freeman (Vikings). Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Rolando McClainApr 16 12:13p

Updating previous reports, retired LB Rolando McClain failed his conditioning tests during his workout with the Baltimore Ravens. The test consisted of six timed 150-yard runs.

Golden TateApr 16 10:53a

Detroit Lions WR Golden Tate said he thinks he can be a 'more explosive Lance Moore,' referring to the former New Orleans Saints receiver. Moore caught 65 passes for [ More ]

Matt FlynnApr 16 10:01a

Green Bay Packers QB Matt Flynn is expected to compete with QB Scott Tolzien for the backup quarterback job, but head coach Mike McCarthy anticipates keeping three QBs on [ More ]

Rolando McClainApr 16 12:03a

Retired LB Rolando McClain (Ravens) worked out for the Baltimore Ravens Tuesday, April 15, as he attempts a comeback. The workout wasn't a smooth one in terms of conditioning, [ More ]

Chris JohnsonApr 16 12:03a

The New York Jets are sticking to their budget/value system. While they want free-agent RB Chris Johnson (Titans), they will not 'overpay' for him. The depressed running back market [ More ]

Aldon SmithApr 16 12:03a

San Francisco 49ers LB Aldon Smith hasn't only lost the benefit of the doubt with the team, but he probably won't play with the team in 2014, according to [ More ]

Malcom FloydApr 15 11:53p

San Diego Chargers WR Malcom Floyd (neck) continues his rehab from a neck injury, but his status is still uncertain. When the team begins voluntary workouts April 22, Floyd [ More ]

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