As the first preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs on August 12 draws closer and closer, the Houston Texans have many battles going on over starting positions. The official depth chart has yet to be released, and it seems to be a toss up for many positions on who will have the prestige of starting for the Texans in 2006.
The most intense battle this week is between Antwan Peek and Jason Babin for right defensive end. The Texans have said there will be an eight man starting rotation, but these two players are giving all they have to show they want the starting role. Last season both individuals played outside linebacker. With the Texans moving to a 4-3 defense this year, both players are set to resume their familiar college positions of defensive end. It is being reported that Babin has the advantage due to his technique and has more quickly picked up on the system.
Head coach Gary Kubiak commented on the two saying "It's a matter of that position being played well. It is a good battle going on. Jason's the bigger of the two holding the point, and Antwan is the pass rusher type of guy. They both have something they bring to the table, and I think that battle is going to make that position better for our football team. They're both going to play. We're going to rotate people up front, and they both will be a big part of what we're doing."
The middle linebacker position is also being contested by Sam Cowart, who joined the Texans this year, and DaShon Polk, who has been with the Texans since March of 2004. Cowart has more experience at the position, but Polk is coming off his best season of his career. 2nd round draft pick DeMeco Ryans is also being tried at the position, though it is unlikely he will be the starter here this year.
Cowart commented on the rookie Ryans saying, "DeMeco's going to be good. To me, you get different types of linebackers; some tall, some medium sized, some short, some can run, some can't run and some can hit. When you look at film of other teams, I look at other linebackers, I look at their eyes, instinct, and do they have good footwork. He has all three."
However, Ryans may just have a chance to start for the Texans as a linebacker on the weak side. He is competing with veteran Morlon Greenwood for the starting position. Ryans has looked really good during training camp, and has impressed Kubiak thus far. The Texans are moving Ryans to different LB positions, helping them get a feel for where Ryans will be the most effective.
After his first day of camp, Ryans was asked how he feels about Kubiak showing so much interest in him. "It's good that he speaks highly of me, but I know that I still need to go out and compete everyday, or nobody will be talking about me. I just keep tunnel vision and I keep working hard everyday."
6th round draft pick Wali Lundy is competing with veteran Vernand Morency for the #2 RB spot behind Domanick Davis. Even though this isn't a battle for starter, it is important because Davis is still nursing an injured knee and it is unclear when he will be ready to play this season.
Considering all these aspects, it will certainly be a revealing day for the Texans when they suit up to play this Saturday.