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Barwin expecting Mario Williams back

Two good nuggets came out of this interview I was part of on Nashville radio with Houston Texans outside linebacker Connor Barwin.

Mario's status: Barwin may have helped make the Texans think Mario Williams, who is heading towards free agency, is expendable. With Barwin and Brooks Reed at outside linebacker since a torn chest muscle ended Williams' season, the team has gotten great production. Williams’ franchise tag would cost more than $16 million, which is salary-cap prohibitive. The Texans are going to have to sign him or let him walk.

Guess which one Barwin is hoping for?

“I just don’t think that’s going to happen,” he said of the possibility of Williams leaving. “I’m pretty sure. He had five sacks in the first five games, so who knows what his production would have been. In Wade Phillips’ system in this defense you need three outside backers to rotate and me and Brooks have been pretty much playing every single snap. That can wear you down a little bit. We’d love Mario back so that we could get a little bit of a rotation going and hopefully all play better.”

AWOL sacks: While he finished the regular season with 11.5 sacks, it could have been 13.5. (We thought he lost three sacks as we talked, but ESPN Stats and Info says it was only two.)

“I’m so happy you noticed those ...” Barwin said. “Nobody else has ever noticed that.”

Each of the lost sacks were turned back because of penalties, though of course we must consider that the penalty could have given him the time to make the play. Week 4 against Pittsburgh Barwin to Ben Roethlisberger but Brice McCain erased it with an illegal contact call. And Week 13 against Atlanta, Barwin got Matt Ryan but lost the play because of defensive holding against McCain.