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Observations on Texans D-line versus Saints

8/19/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
HOUSTON -- My intended focus was the Texans' young cornerbacks, but Drew Brees has not rejoined the Saints yet after the recent death of his mother.

So at Wednesday morning's Texans-Saints joint practice, I turned to the pass rush with a specific focus on rookie second-round end Connor Barwin, whom I've heard a lot of good things about.

He's technically behind Mario Williams on the right side, and gets in when Williams kicks to the left in pass-rush situations.

In one-on-one pass-rush work and in team periods, Barwin worked against both Jermon Bushrod, listed as the Saints' backup left tackle, and starting right tackle Jon Stinchcomb.

I felt like Barwin got good, consistent push and was high-energy on all his snaps.

He took consecutive snaps against Stinchcomb in one-on-ones, beating him around the left edge to get to the stand-in quarterback on the first, but winding up blocked to the ground on the second.

"I think I did all right," Barwin said. "Obviously you're always going to want to get better and make a couple different plays looking back immediately. But I think I played fast and that's what I need to do every day, I think I ran around a little bit so I was happy with that."

I also asked him about his role:

"They are still sorting it out. It's just about me coming out here and proving myself. I need to prove I can be the fourth best guy to put on the field to rush the passer if I want to play on third down. I need to show that every day. If I do I'll be out there.

"I know I am not going to go out there for Mario or Antonio [Smith] on first down, those are the guys, that's not going to change. But if I can prove I'm the fourth best pass-rusher, they'll move Antonio inside or something else."

Other notes on the pass-rush period:

  • Saints highly regarded right guard Jahri Evans stopped Amobi Okoye twice, seemingly with ease.

  • Smith went against starting left guard Carl Nicks and didn't do much on his first try, then got around him off the right edge on his second try.

  • Williams ran right though Jammal Brown, leaving the starting left tackle flat on his back.

  • Tim Bulman lost his footing, then got ridden wide in two snaps against rookie Michael Brown, listed as a third-team tackle.

  • Shaun Cody used some furious hand action as he worked against backup guard Jamar Nesbit, getting good push and showing good quickness.

  • Frank Okam looked very strong against third-team center Digger Bujnoch, shifting him aside before heading to the quarterback on one snap.