Houston not only is the fourth-largest city in America, it's also one of the quirkiest. The perception is that cowboys and oil tycoons roam the streets. And, well, yeah. They do.
But there also is an eclectic mix of people from virtually every tax bracket, ethnicity and lifestyle. Show up for a day at the Texans camp at Reliant Stadium and you'll everyone from the nouveau riche Midtowners and suburbanites from The Woodlands to tattooed oil rig workers of Pasadena.
Seriously, why would the Texans ever want to leave Reliant Park? The facilities are among the best in the NFL and camp is surrounded by flavors of Houston at its finest.
Even Detroit has enjoyed a playoff berth in its past 10 years of fielding an NFL football team. That's how hungry football-loving fans in Houston are for a winner.
And you can feel a difference in the air at Texans camp this time. Players are embracing the challenge. Coaches are facing the task head-on, rather than talking in ifs and buts. And naturally, fans and media are buzzing around Reliant Park as they watch a much deeper, more talented team get ready for what could be an historic NFL season.
Throughout their existence, the Texans have struggled to find a left tackle capable of doing the job -- dating all the way to their first-ever expansion pick,
But in a division with two of the best pass-rushers in the NFL in
This year, Brown is lighter and better. Considering this is only Brown's third season, ever, playing left tackle, the Texans may have found a gem.
Four years after being booed when he was drafted, Williams now is in line to have a monster season. Coaches are talking about an NFL Defensive Player of the Year-type season for Williams, who has only continued to get better.
And they're surrounding him with more talent on the defensive line, too, which should eliminate a few double-teams and help Williams to an otherworldly level in defensive coordinator
This year, several of those quarterbacks pressured to run away from Super Mario should run right into the waiting arms of Smith. And when rookie pass-rushing specialist
The Texans suffered a huge setback in camp this week when first-round pick
That's the bad news. The good news is GM
The best steal, however, could be tight end/fullback
There's reason to believe James "Thor" Casey will make a big play in every game in which he plays. Why not? The fifth-round pick has made a play in virtually every practice so far. It may be on special teams, as a blocking back, in a "wildcat" formation or as a receiver in a two tight end set.
But day after day, Casey does something big -- nothing more memorable than an 11-on-11 drill recently when backup quarterback
• If you're buying into the buzz that Gary Kubiak is among those coaches on the hot seat in 2009, don't. Texans owner
• Since Kubiak and general manager Rick Smith have arrived, the Texans roster has changed so much in just four years that only five players remain from the team they inherited. They are guard
• You can just call defensive linemen
• With Bulman and Cody playing well and the additions of Antonio Smith and Connor Barwin on the defensive line, the odd man out may well be former No. 1 pick Travis Johnson. He's always been either injured or under-achieving. He has yet to suit up this year. He's THAT close to being a bust.
• If the NFL had a passing accuracy contest, I'm not so sure I wouldn't take
• How can I go the entire postcard without talking about Andre Johnson being maybe the best receiver in the game? Typical. Everyone forgets about this quiet guy. But pencil in 100-plus receptions and 10-plus touchdowns.