AFC South: Connor Barin

When Bob McNair bemoaned the Texans linebacking depth on Jan. 13, it came across as silly.

Houston used 11 different linebackers last year.

Brian Cushing, Bradie James, Tim Dobbins, Daryl Sharpton, Barrett Ruud and Mister Alexander all played inside last year and Brooks Reed, Connor Barwin, Whitney Mercilus, Bryan Braman and Jesse Nading saw time outside.

No team, 3-4 or not, is going to field quality players when it turns to its ninth, 10th or 11th player at the position.

Yet after the season ended, McNair offered this:

“As we develop more depth, when those things happen it’ll hurt us less and less. In this particular case, we got hit at one position with a lot of injuries. It made it very difficult. We’ll work on adding more depth and playing better.”

If they need 11 linebackers, they will struggle again.

But, per John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, they’ve added an additional veteran who can help, signing Joe Mays, the former Denver Bronco. He buried Matt Schaub on Sept. 23, 2012 during a 31-25 Texans’ win in Denver last year, a hit that drew a $50,000 fine.

The Texans lost Barwin in free agency and Ruud, James, Alexander and Nading are also gone.

They’ve now added third-rounder Sam Montgomery and fourth-rounder Trevardo Williams as well as Mays, a sixth-round pick by Philadelphia in 2008. The Eagles swapped him to Denver in 2010 in exchange for running back J.J. Arrington.

As long as Cushing can stay on the field a year after he tore an ACL, the Texans should be fine if they are assured of Sharpton, Dobbins or Mays as a second inside guy. Sharpton is on the NFI list. He and Dobbins don’t have good records of staying healthy.

Mays has played in only 47 of a possible 80 games over five seasons. He was suspended for one game last season then missed the final nine games of the regular season with a broken leg and ankle.

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