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Friday, February 28, 2014
Barwin's insight into Texans' locker room

By Paul Kuharsky

The Houston Texans spent the 46th pick in the 2009 draft on a guy who played a good share of tight end and basketball during his college career.

Barwin
Connor Barwin finished his college career at Cincinnati as a defensive end. When he got to Houston, he moved again, this time to outside linebacker in Wade Phillips' 3-4 front.

He had 11.5 sacks in 2011, and was one of the guys who helped lift the Texans from perennial underachievers to division winner.

After 2012, however, the Texans let him move on as a free agent, and he received a six-year, $36 million contract with $9 million guaranteed. He had five sacks and received good reviews in his first season in Philadelphia.

In addition to solid play, he added smarts and comedy to the Texans' locker room.

Friday he offered an insider perspective on NFL locker rooms for fans and media. We’ve been discussing what it’s like in there since the Wells report on the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin case delved into the Miami locker room, and since draft prospect Michael Sam revealed publicly that he’s gay.

It’s a piece worth your time.

And it includes praise for the position-group atmosphere the Texans’ leaders on the offensive and defensive lines created and fostered.
The most successful position groups tend to be the ones with the best organization. When I was on the Texans, the O-line and D-line were led by savvy veterans like Chris Myers and Shaun Cody. From Day 1 of training camp the rules were set in place. Rookies carried veterans’ pads. Rookies stocked the position room with snacks and candy. Rookies embarrassed themselves in training camp skits. Systems of fines were put in place. (For example: $100 for farting during film study cost me a lot of money that year.) Outsiders might view these to be demeaning -- imagine a Google employee getting fined for passing gas -- but it laid a strict groundwork for how things were to be run. Late for a meeting? That’s a fine. Texting during dinner? A fine. Falling asleep during a film session? Big fine. Everyone is held accountable. Everyone shares the same goal: to win football games.

It’s no coincidence that those strictly run linemen groups were two of the most close-knit and successful position groups on the team.