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Where Texans' roster stands now: Defense

4/17/2014

Yesterday we caught ourselves up with the offensive side of the Houston Texans' roster following moves over the past few weeks. Today we take a look at how the defense is shaping up.

It's a lot more complete than the last time we did this.

Defensive end: J.J. Watt, Tim Jamison, Jared Crick

Analysis: This group included Antonio Smith last season, but the Texans were through with him, asking him to stay and be a third-down rusher. Thus, Smith left in free agency to sign with the Oakland Raiders for what he expects to be a starting role. I expect the Texans to add a draft pick here, who will compete with Crick for that starting spot opposite J.J. Watt.

Defensive tackle: Jerrell Powe, Ricardo Mathews

Analysis: Progress! Last time we checked in, the Texans had zero defensive tackles. Now they've signed two. Powe has spent most of his career as a backup with the Chiefs and Mathews as a backup with the Colts.

Linebacker: Brian Cushing, Whitney Mercilus, Brooks Reed, Jeff Tarpinian, Mike Mohamed, Ricky Sapp, Trevardo Williams, Justin Tuggle, Paul Hazel

Analysis: The inside linebacker spot next to Cushing is in flux (again), but having Cushing in the lineup will make whomever is next to him look a lot better. If you missed it, Cushing announced yesterday on Twitter that he had been cleared by his doctor. Mercilus and Reed return as the starters at outside linebacker, though the addition of a draft pick ... perhaps a certain one from South Carolina ... could change things.

Cornerback: Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, Brandon Harris, Elbert Mack, Josh Victorian, A.J. Bouye

Analysis: With Joseph and Jackson in the lineup, the outsides are set. It will be interesting to see what the Texans do with the slot role. Harris was drafted to play there, but hasn't really panned out. It's another position they could address in the draft with one of those 11 picks.

Safety: Chris Clemons, D.J. Swearinger, Shiloh Keo, Kendrick Lewis, Jawanza Starling, Eddie Pleasant

Analysis: No splashy addition here like last year, which is a good thing for the Texans. Coach Bill O'Brien said during a town hall with season ticket holders last month that Swearinger will play strong safety, and Clemons and Lewis will compete at free safety. Based on their histories, I'd expect Clemons to win that battle.