Given that the Houston Texans now have 14 linebackers on their roster after their offseason transformation, predicting their starters and exactly who will play where in this new 4-3 defensive front is tough.
That being said, according to Christian Kirksey, Houston's linebacker corps are simply planning to play ... everywhere.
"We are all just learning all three linebacker roles so where we could be interchangeable," said Kirksey after Thursday OTA work. "And I think that when you have a group of veterans that can plug in at any spot, that's just raising the intensity level in the room which is raising the play in the room."
Kirksey, a former starter for the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns, was one of the bigger acquisitions this offseason for the Texans having played seven years in the league to date. And despite the fact that he is joining a defense that was statistically one of the worst in the NFL in 2020, his and his teammates' ambitions for this group remain sky-high.
"We're trying to be the best linebacker corps in the league," said Kirksey.
The Texans have themselves a primarily veteran group, with just one rookie currently on the roster in Garret Wallow out of TCU. And by all accounts, this push to build as competitive a roster as possible by general manager Nick Caserio is one that Kirksey believes will drive these players to be at their best.
"When you bring out a bunch of guys that can easily start on another team and be a key factor on another team and you bring all those guys on one squad, it's going to raise the competition level," said Kirksey. "You've got guys that are going to go out there and they're going to earn their spot and they're going to play multiple positions or tell the coach 'hey coach wherever you need me I'll play."
Kirksey also discussed how many of the guys are on short-term deals, and that this means they enter this season with a chip on their shoulder as they work to earn their keep.
But it wasn't just the level of competition that drew Kirksey to Houston. Along with family living in the area, and his belief in the team's drive to improve, Houston's decision to hire former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith as defensive coordinator made the choice "almost like a no-brainer" according to Kirksey.
"Everybody knows that Lovie Smith is a legend," said Kirksey. "You want to be coached by a great."
So to summarize: Coached by a legend, versatile, heavily driven to earn a spot and a contract, and to become the best in the league.