Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
A week from right now, there will be one game already in the standings and we'll all be getting fired up for kickoffs on the first full day of football.
To help get everyone ready, I decided on a Monster Mailbag Sunday, in four conveniently divided installments.
Without further delay, here's the first of four in the always-easy alphabetical order.
Tyler in H-Town writes: Paul, No Love man?? First of all, I'd like to say I have your blog bookmarked and I check it multiple times a day. Keep up the great coverage of all the teams in the AFC South. I'm just not much for emailing questions personally. I do have some things to throw your way about my Texans however. So far in the preseason we have seen nothing but the same ol same ol from our Defense, i.e. No pass rush. I know it's only preseason so I'm trying to be reserved, but is Richard Smith (Texans D-Cord) on the hot seat at all this year? I'm convinced we have the talent in our front seven to apply pressure to the quarterback, yet Romo, Brees, and Cutler have been on vacation in pocket during our three games so far. What's your take on this? Where is Ray Rhodes? I'm not seeing his influence on our D yet
Paul Kuharsky: Great to hear from you. I think the Texans are still sorting out their defensive personality, and without Dunta Robinson in the mix the secondary could have a tough time. That means the front faces a lot of pressure to produce pressure. I've been asked a lot about Smith. I spent some time with him in camp, liked him and thought him a straight shooter.
I think it's too early to say if whatever defensive issues show up this year will be about the parts or the mechanics. But they all need to do more identity-forging. Rhodes was very much in the background during my two visits to Houston during camp.
Travis in Boston writes: After watching my Texans play the Cowboys, I really like Slaton. Do you see him becoming the key Texans RB this season? Also, which do you feel is the bigger issue at this point- the secondary or running game?
Paul Kuharsky: I really have to pick one? I'll go secondary, because I haven't seen that the pass rush is sufficient to make up for it yet. On the other side, the pass game could offset run struggles.
Slaton will be a factor. The question is how much and when. They are intent on Ahman Green heading the line. There will be carries to be had behind him, and more if and when he gets dinged.
Bob in Houston writes: Howdy, As a Texan Fan I like the idea of having two quality quarterbacks on the Team. I feel that Sage Rosenfelt could start on several current NFL teams. What are the chances that Rosenfels will be traded this late into the preseason and what would it take for the Texan?s to let him go
Paul Kuharsky: They won't be moving Sage Rosenfels. Most everyone needs a quality second at least a couple times and with Matt Schaub needing to prove he can last 16 games, it'd be dangerous. They decided against it in the offseason. I think they might have gotten a third from Minnesota then. Not worth it.
Chris M. in Round Rock, TX writes: Hi Paul. Thanks for your work on the AFC South blog. So here's my multi-part question: Will the Texans be able to keep this young, promising core together long enough to become a division-winning contender when the Jags and Colts finally lose a step? What are the challenges involved in doing that? Will guys like Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub have lost a step themselves by the time the division is a little less tough? Keep up the good work! --Chris
Paul Kuharsky: You're welcome. Smart questions.
I think they need to do what the Titans spent the offseason working on: identify core players and sign them well before they get to free agency. They take less than they might get in a year or two for the assurances, you take a little more risk that they will continue to grow and not be affected negatively by contracts. Tennessee has no worries about that with tackle Michael Roos and David Stewart or corner Cortland Finnegan. The Texans won't have such worries with Mario Williams, Amobi Okoye, DeMeco Ryans, a healthy Andre Johnson or Eric Winston. You've also got to continue to draft well to find more of those guys.
No matter how well a team does with it, though, the element of waiting on the Colts has to be frustrating.
Maybe they could petition to switch divisions? Flip-flop with Carolina?
Kris in Houston writes: Paul, I think you hit the Texans fans pretty close on your ranking of the fan base. The worst of it is that they always seem to take forever to get into the seats. They give LA a run. When Houston hosted the Colts last year, though, it was so loud it through Payton Manning off. And it was crazy. I have to say, your referencing Vince Young is only partially true. That touchdown run came in his rookie year when Mario Williams looked horrible, Reggie Bush looked good and Vince looked incredible. Last year, Kerry Collins played in the Titans' only game in Houston. To judge the current Texans fans on the actions of two years ago, especially considering the circumstances, is unfair. Watch what happens this year. There will be no welcome. Half of that was to show the Texans front office how upset they were with the pick. This year, it won't be as harsh as any other QB, but Vince won't be welcomed like that again. Also, the cheering had nothing to do with the University of Texas. It's solely because he is a Houston kid. Graduating from an HISD school. Nope, Texans and UT don't match. I've tried to get several others to adapt the longhorns' sign for the Texans since we do have the bull, but do that in front of any Aggies (which there are far more of than Longhorns in Houston - at least the vocal type) and you may as well be wearing opposing colors in the black hole. Those people are scary
Paul Kuharsky: Kris is referring to the rating of Texans fans in this list. The poll was based on the last five year
s, so stuff from two years ago counts. I appreciate you saying you thought I was pretty accurate with my overall thinking.