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Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Shane Lechler not total answer for Houston

By Paul Kuharsky

Special teams hurt the Houston Texans last season.

"We were a big penalty team in special teams,” coach Gary Kubiak said recently. “That's a big concern of ours. If I'm looking for a reason why we fell off a little bit, our inside linebacker situation got very thin when we lost [Brian Cushing]. When you're having problems at linebacker in the NFL, you're probably going to suffer on special teams. We're not going to use that as an excuse. But it's something we have to do better.''

One guy that wasn’t really part of the problem was punter Donnie Jones.

He was 14th in the NFL with a 40.4-yard net average and put 28 of his 88 punts inside the 20-yard line. He’s got a career net average of 39.2 yards in nine seasons with four teams.

But while the team expects to add linebackers who can help special teams in the draft, it could replace Jones, a free agent, with free-agent Shane Lechler, who’s played 13 years for Oakland.

John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports Lechler will visit the Texans on Thursday.

Lechler had a 39.0 net average last season for the Raiders with 45 of 81 punts inside the 20-yard line. His career net is 39.0.

He’s a seven-time Pro Bowler and a six-time first-team All-Pro.

The difference between Jones and Lechler at this point isn't significant. No matter who's punting, the team has to cover and block better.