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SOTT Quick Hitters

Here are some random thoughts for you on the Houston Texans.

- As much flack as Connor Barwin has taken for his lack of production, it feels like defensive end Antonio Smith has gotten a free pass from the critics. Despite having two sacks and a forced fumble in 2012, Smith has been very quite and less disruptive than last season. Now Smith has been on the injury report the past few weeks with an ankle/foot issue that limits him in practice. Gary Kubiak said in his press conference this week that Smith was dealing with other issues too, but did not go into detail. It is really tough to tell what the issues are with Smith's game, but there is reason for concern.

- With Johnathan Joseph's groin issue, wouldn't it be wise for the Texans to rest him and give him two weeks of rest with the bye week after the Baltimore Ravens game? If the effort we have seen the past two weeks is what the defense is going to get from Joseph, it would be better to let healthy Brice McCain or Alan Ball play because they could give the same effort or better. The only reason we say this is Joseph will be more valuable healthy late in the season that struggling to get healthy playing on the sore groin. In the past two games (Jets, Packers), he has been targeted 21 times and given up 14 receptions plus one touchdown.

- The more and more I think about it the Texans, as soon as the off season hits, need to give the inside linebacker position a serious face lift, by getting younger and faster. The only two inside linebackers that should be back in 2013 should be Brian Cushing and a healthy Darryl Sharpton (hopefully he does). I do not like jumping ahead so soon, but the inside linebackers have become such an average group with Cushing lost for the year. The one position they could not afford to lose anyone they did, and two big ones in Cushing and Sharpton.

- Shaun Cody's snaps have been lower than backup Earl Mitchell's this season. Cody is another Texans defensive player who does not look like his 2012 self, but unfortunately he has been dealing with some back issues since training camp. Mitchell has improved at the nose tackle position and even has been getting some snaps on the Texans dime package to rush the passer. Mitchell also has played the defensive end position this season which makes him one of the more versatile players on the defensive line. Mitchell has been the second most consistent defensive lineman for the Texans in the early part of the 2012 season.

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- Ben Jones for all of the praise he has been getting, has been playing like a rookie of late. Jones struggles with the bigger and more powerful defensive lineman and with Antoine Caldwell being average this season too, the right guard position is still up for grabs. The rookie has all the skills he needs to be a good NFL player, but his mental lapses are what gets the Texans offense in trouble.

- Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham have been pretty good this season in the passing game, but their run blocking has been an issue. This is the one position that the Texans have taken the biggest step backwards when it comes to the run game. Something needs to be done to correct this issue soon.

- The Texans traded for Tyler Clutts but he has not touched the field as a fullback in an important situation the entire season. He is more of a full back than James Casey, so let Casey excel as a tight end not as a lead blocker.

- Last but not least, Ben Tate needs to get back on track in a hurry and take some rushes away from Arian Foster. Both backs depend on each other to keep their legs fresh, but at the moment Tate is not holding up his end of the deal. Tate is still dealing with a toe issue that made him miss the New York Jets game.

Do you have any thoughts?

You can follow Patrick on Twitter. He is the Editor of State of the Texans.