The defense is
talented, though still very young. Williams is expected to improve, and he'll
be joined on the line by precocious 6' 2", 302-pound rookie Amobi Okoye,
whose entire career has been conducted on fast-forward. He began playing as a
high school sophomore (after emigrating from Nigeria to Huntsville, Ala., at
age 12), played college football at Louisville at age 16 and was drafted at 19.
"He's athletic, just like everybody said he was," says Williams.
"I'm looking forward to playing next to him." Okoye's NFL debut comes
one year after middle linebacker and tackling machine DeMeco Ryans was named
the league's defensive rookie of the year.
The Texans could
have as many as seven starters on defense who have been in the league three
years or less. Ryans and cornerback Dunta Robinson are All-Pros-in-waiting.
After a horrid start a year ago, in which they gave up nearly 500 yards per
game in the first three weeks of the season, the Texans were a top 10 defense
from October through December.
Coach Gary Kubiak
promises to eliminate many of the mistakes he made last year, his first as a
head man after 12 years as an offensive assistant. "I spread myself too
thin, worrying about every little thing in the organization," he says.
Offensive coordinator (and former Packers head coach) Mike Sherman will call
the plays, but they will all run through Kubiak's headset.
In the end Schaub
and Green are gambles with a big upside. The defense could be very good.
December games should matter in Houston.
COACH GARY KUBIAK
(6-10 in NFL), second season with Texans