RATHER THAN sulk
about his unceremonious release from the Patriots late last February, pass rush
specialist Rosevelt Colvin embraced the opportunity to peddle himself to teams
as a free agent, touting his selling points as if he were a real estate agent
in a down housing market. "I'd probably compare myself to an older
home," says Colvin, 30, a contributor on two Super Bowl winners in his five
years in New England. "There are a couple of issues to deal with, but if
you can get over those, I can be useful."
his 10th NFL season, Colvin is a bit of a fixer-upper. He missed the last five
weeks of the 2007 regular season and all of the playoffs with a broken right
foot and is still bothered by the effects of a right-hip injury that nearly
ended his career in '03. If they'd kept him, the Pats would have taken a $7.6
million cap hit.
disrepair, Colvin, who led New England in sacks in 2005 and '06 and has 52 1/2
for his career, found no shortage of bidders. With a wife and four kids, he
would only take offers from teams looking to buy, not rent. "I wasn't at
the point where I felt like I wanted to start jumping around, year-to-year,
signing one-year contracts," he says. "I was looking for a
In June the
Texans gave him one, trumping an offer from the division-rival Colts and
signing him to a three-year deal that averages $2.84 million. Much as the
contract is a score for Colvin, it's also a risk for the Texans. First there's
his age and injury history; then there's the learning curve he faces moving
from purely a stand-up linebacker in New England's 3--4 scheme to more of a
down defensive end in Houston's 4--3.
Colvin's first go-round in a 4--3—he earned All-Big Ten honors playing the
scheme at Purdue and had 10 1/2-sack seasons with Chicago in 2001 and '02—but
that was at linebacker. In addition to learning the Texans' terminology and gap
responsibilities, he has found adapting to new demands in practice a grind.
"Whereas in the last five years I might've been asked to rush four or five
yards and settle down, now I need to go six, seven, eight yards, all-out,"
At 6'3" and
250 pounds, Colvin is also a bit undersized to be an edge rusher, but he's
confident he can handle his responsibilities. "They're not asking me to
play nosetackle," Colvin says. "I have to be able to get it done
against the tight end or the tackle at my weight."
successfully makes the switch and stays healthy, the savvy Colvin will be a
boon to a young Houston defense that hasn't finished above 24th in the NFL in
the last three years. "Rosey's got the ability to rush and drop into
coverage," says coordinator Richard Smith. "That would be an advantage
for us." Outside of third-year end Mario Williams, who rebounded from a
plantar fasciitis injury as a rookie to have 14 sacks last year, the team put
little pressure on the—quarterback in '07; Amobi Okoye, a rookie, was the only
other Texan with more than three sacks, and his chief job is as a run
Even with a
stronger pass rush the Texans will have a tough time improving on last year's
franchise-best 8--8 finish. Not only do they figure to be overmatched against
AFC South foes Tennessee, Jacksonville and Indianapolis—Houston was 1--5 in the
division in '07—but they also have a demanding nondivision schedule. What's
more, ace cornerback Dunta Robinson isn't expected back from knee and hamstring
injuries until midseason (newcomer Jacques Reeves, late of the Cowboys, fills
in); feature back Ahman Green, 31, missed 10 games last year with a knee
ailment; and the offensive line is porous and was already banged-up in
The Texans' only
chance for their first postseason berth depends on a fearsome pass rush. And
for that to happen, Colvin has to bring the house.
STARTING LINEUP WITH 2007 STATISTICS COACH GARY KUBIAK (14--18 in NFL), third
season with Texans