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Tuesday, June 16, 2009
No more third series breaks for Texans' Brown

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

HOUSTON -- Deem it what you will.

The Texans offensive line plan where 2007 first-round pick Duane Brown sat out every third series in favor of Ephraim Salaam was unconventional. Lines talk constantly about continuity and plenty of first round tackles in recent years have been plug-and-play guys who've been immediately successful and handled a full load.

Salaam is gone now, and Brown is expected to play left tackle full time.

Brown was viewed as a tidy fit for Alex Gibbs' cutting zone scheme, but his conditioning was a factor working against him last season.

"[The rotation] was huge," Brown said. "In this scheme you have to be able to run and run every down and I wasn't really used to the speed of the NFL and it was kind of overwhelming for me. I really cut back my weight a lot, I've gotten in a lot better shape. It's going to benefit me."

Brown is at about 316 pounds now, and he played last year around 323 or 325, he said. He rates himself as a lot stronger, faster, quicker and lighter on his feet as he prepares for his second season.

"I think in a lot of respects it was the best of both worlds last year, we had a chance to have a rookie play, a significant amount of snaps and also have the benefit of being able to sit back and watch," GM Rick Smith said. "I think it worked out to our benefit, I think we all expect him to be the full time guy now."

If Brown isn't ready for the task, the Texans could have an issue. Rashad Butler is the primary backup tackle now. In three seasons in the league, he's got less playing time (eight games) than Brown got in one (16 starts). Salaam took a 154-game résumé and 129 starts with him. But having started doesn't always mean you're better than an alternative.

Brown was a first-rounder, and the 26th pick in the draft should be playing every snap and playing it well.