NFL Nation: Kris Brown

The first thing the Dallas Cowboys had to do once the lockout ended was trim their roster so they could get under the salary cap. They appear to have wasted little time in doing so.

ESPNDallas.com reports that the Cowboys have informed running back Marion Barber, guard Leonard Davis and receiver Roy Williams that they will be cut. After a phone conversation I just had with the one and only Calvin Watkins, I believe the total savings toward the 2011 salary cap represented by those three moves comes out to $15.7 millon -- $6 million for Davis, $5 million for Williams and $4.7 million for Barber.

None of the cuts qualifies as a huge surprise, though there was some thought that Williams might represent too big a cap hit. But as Calvin reported Monday, designating Williams as a June 1 cut makes him a $5 million savings this year instead of a $12.9 million hit as we had previously thought. The question, of course, is who replaces Williams, who's been the object of scorn in Dallas because he's underperformed so drastically after they gave up so much to get him? Regardless of his performance, he did appear to be a pretty good No. 3 receiver behind Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, and they may have to fill that spot in free agency now.

Barber appeared to be a goner once the Cowboys drafted running back DeMarco Murray in April. Murray will take Barber's place in the running back rotation with Felix Jones and Tashard Choice. And if they're not prepared to start Montrae Holland, they will need a guard to replace Davis. They still need to re-sign left guard Kyle Kosier as well.

We're hearing conflicting reports on Marc Colombo, who'd be a $2.4 million savings, so stay tuned on that. And the Cowboys also cut veteran kicker Kris Brown, whose only projected function was to put training-camp pressure on David Buehler.

The Cowboys had been projected to be about $17 million over the cap, so this brings them close to the number. Still some work to be done (most likely in the form of restructuring deals) to make room for them to sign the free-agent safeties and defensive linemen they need. But they're clearly working on it.

Dallas also announced that its preseason game against the Chargers, which had been scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 20, will instead be played Sunday, Aug. 21 at 8 p.m. ET.

A look at Dan Carpenter's day to forget

December, 20, 2010
12/20/10
11:43
AM ET
Dan Carpenter wasn't asked to kick any gimmies Sunday for the Miami Dolphins. His attempts were long. The wind was gusting about 20 mph.

[+] EnlargeDan Carpenter
Marc Serota/Getty ImagesDan Carpenter missed four field goals in Sunday's loss to Buffalo.
And it's tough to get on him for missing all four of his kicks. If not for Carpenter consistently bailing out the Dolphins' moribund offense, the Dolphins' playoff hopes would have died weeks earlier. He was the AFC's special teams player of the month for October.

Still, the Pro Bowl kicker had a miserable afternoon -- one of the worst in the past 30 years for any kicker, as you'll read below. The Dolphins desperately could have used just one field goal in a 17-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills in Sun Life Stadium.

Carpenter was a Pro Bowler last season. He missed from 48 yards (wide right), 61 yards (short), 53 yards (wide left) and 48 yards (wide right). The last miss came with 1:48 left in the game and the Dolphins in need of three points to maybe force overtime.

Instead, the Dolphins fell to 1-6 at home and had their nominal playoff hopes extinguished. The Bills beat their first opponent with a winning record.

"It hurts knowing that you cost your team and the chance to move on to the playoffs," Carpenter said.

If the Dolphins' offense could move the ball, then Carpenter wouldn't have been asked to kick from a different zip code.

Nevertheless, his performance was epically unsuccessful.

Carpenter was just the second kicker to miss four field goals without making one since 1992. He was the first kicker to miss four field goals in a loss of three points or less since Kris Brown did so on five attempts in 2001.

The Elias Sports Bureau found Mike Cofer in 1991 was the last kicker to miss all four without a conversion in a loss of three points or less.

"I'm going to put the guy out there and let him take his swings," Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano said. "He's been kicking great. I've got a lot of confidence in the guy. I felt like he would knock it through on a 44- or 45-yarder. He's made a bushel of those kinds of kicks and farther.

"We wouldn't have a chance to be where we are right now without him, we know that."

Halftime thoughts from Jets at Pats

December, 6, 2010
12/06/10
10:21
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Some halftime thoughts from Gillette Stadium, where the New England Patriots lead the New York Jets 24-3:
  • My prevailing thought is the Jets are getting embarrassed on national television. My secondary thought is the Patriots' defense is playing way above its track record in almost every way.
  • BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored from 1 yard out to give the Patriots a 10-0 lead. It was his 10th touchdown, the first Patriots running back with that many since Corey Dillon in 2006.
  • Tom Brady's stat line: 10-of-16 for 152 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. But the Jets have sacked him three times.
  • Mark Sanchez's stat line: 8-of-18 for 77 yards and zero touchdowns with no interceptions.
  • ESPN Stats & Information credited the Patriots with 84 receiving yards after the catch.
  • The Patriots led 17-0 with 61 seconds still left in the first quarter. It was a total team effort to get into that hole: shoddy coaching (wasted challenge on the Jets' first possession, 53-yard field-goal attempt), shoddy offense (Sanchez's passes were scattershot), shoddy defense (poor tackling) and shoddy special teams (Nick Folk's miss and a 12-yard Steve Weatherford punt).
  • You have to wonder if Rex Ryan was a little too geared up at the start of the game. He was overly aggressive when unsuccessfully challenging a spot and then trying to kick the 53-yard field goal in cold and windy conditions. The Jets weren't effectively able to flip the field the rest of the half.
  • The Jets worked out Kris Brown last week, but opted to stick with Folk. Can't help but recall how reliable Jay Feely was in bad weather last year.
  • The Jets have gone eight straight first quarters without a touchdown.
  • The Jets surrendered 10 points and 163 yards to the Cincinnati Bengals in their previous game. In the first quarter against the Patriots, the Jets gave up 17 points and 105 yards.
Want another reason why the rest of the AFC West should worry about the San Diego Chargers, who have won three straight games and appear to be embarking on another late-season playoff run?

[+] EnlargeVincent Jackson
AP Photo/Denis PoroyVincent Jackson's return this Sunday is great news for San Diego's depleted wide receiver corp.
The return of Pro Bowl receiver Vincent Jackson. As expected, the Chargers officially activated Jackson to the roster Tuesday as the Chargers prepare for a pivotal game at Indianapolis on Sunday night. He has been on the roster-exemption list for the past three games after ending his holdout.

There has been speculation that San Diego would be reluctant to play Jackson because of hard feelings over his holdout and the fact that he will likely walk as a free agent after the season. Also, there has been speculation that Jackson may not be motivated to play at a high level because of his own hard feelings.

My expectations? San Diego, which has been depleted by injuries, will use Jackson often and he will be a professional and play with his usual strong work ethic. The word is Jackson has looked very good in recent practices. Tuesday, San Diego coach Norv Turner told reporters he expects Jackson to be a solid contributor.

Jackson’s pending return was not lost on his teammates Monday night after San Diego evened its record at 5-5 with a 35-14 win over Denver.

“We get Vincent back this week,” safety Eric Weddle said without prompting. “That’s only going to make us better.”

There’s no reason to think Jackson won’t start right away. His replacement as the No. 1 receiver, Malcom Floyd, aggravated a hamstring injury Monday night and could miss more time. No. 2 receiver Legedu Naanee still is being hampered by a hamstring injury that kept him out of several games and No. 4 receiver Patrick Crayton, who has been starting in Naanee’s place, has a wrist injury that could cost him a significant amount of time. Buster Davis, the team’s No. 3 receiver, was put on the injured reserve last month.

Tight end Antonio Gates has missed two games with a foot injury and there’s no guarantee he will return against the Colts, although the team is hopeful. The team is also hopeful rookie tailback Ryan Mathews will return from an ankle injury at Indianapolis, although expect backup Mike Tolbert to play significantly. He had 11 rushing yards against Denver.

The Chargers have survived the onslaught of injuries because of the special play of quarterback Philip Rivers. He has to be thrilled about the notion of getting Jackson back. Rivers and Jackson have been one of the NFL’s best long-play combinations. Rivers’ stance during Jackson’s holdout was always this: “I wish Vincent was here. We’d be a better team with him.” Now, the surging Chargers will get Rivers’ wish.

To make room for Jackson, San Diego cut kicker Kris Brown. He was on the roster while Nate Kaeding was dealing with a groin injury.
The Vincent Jackson holdout is officially over and he’s back with the Chargers, for now.

The only reason why Jackson signed his tender Friday is because he needed to accrue a season toward free agency. Jackson’s camp announced last week that he’d report Friday. Jackson will now be set to be an unrestricted free agent in March. Then, Jackson will almost certainly leave as a free agent unless the Chargers give him the franchise tag, which could open a whole new can of worms.

The odds are Jackson is coming back to San Diego to say good-bye. After he serves three games on the roster exempt list, he will be eligible to play in Week 12 at Indianapolis on Nov. 28.

Expect Jackson to become a contributor as soon as he’s eligible to play. San Diego coach Norv Turner loves Jackson and will be thrilled to add him to an offense that is ranked No. 1 in the NFL. There is still room for Jackson, especially in the deep passing game.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, in the past two seasons, Jackson led the NFL with 16 catches for 729 yards on pass plays of 31-plus yards. He was targeted 36 times on passes of 31-plus yards. Quarterback Philip Rivers has a great connection with Jackson, and I think the two will enjoy instant chemistry again.

For the time being, the team and Jackson will play nice.

“I’m happy Vincent is here,” San Diego general manager A.J. Smith said in a statement released by the team. “I have no doubt he will go to work, work hard and quickly get into game-shape. Once he starts playing in games, I don’t think it will take him long for him to be a contributor and help us.”

In the same release, Jackson also appeared ready to move on.

“It feels good to be with my teammates. I’ve missed football more than you can imagine,” Jackson said. “Right now I’m just looking forward to being able to practice and get back on the field. My only concern is doing whatever I can to contribute and help the team win. The future will take care of itself.”

San Diego could use Jackson now. Starting receivers Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee are both doubtful to play Sunday against Tennessee with hamstring injuries. Neither player played last week. Receiver Buster Davis, who is expected to start at receiver along with Patrick Crayton, is questionable with a rib injury. He was limited in practice Friday in his only work of the week.

Tight end Antonio Gates, Rivers' top target, practiced Friday fully for the first time in two weeks because of a toe injury. He played last week and he is expected to play Sunday, even though he is listed as questionable.

Kicker Kris Brown is questionable with an ankle injury. He is replacing Nate Kaeding, who is out for a couple of weeks with a groin issue.

AFC West Week 7 decisive moment

October, 26, 2010
10/26/10
1:01
PM ET
NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

After dominating on defense for three quarters, but undermining themselves with turnovers and special-teams gaffes, the San Diego Chargers caught fire in the fourth quarter Sunday against visiting New England.

The Chargers outscored the Patriots 17-3 in the first 10:59 of the quarter to cut the New England lead to 23-20. San Diego was, indeed, charging.

Then it gave itself real life when it stopped New England on its 47 with 1:55 remaining when the Patriots went for it on fourth-and-1 from their 49. The Chargers had everything going for themselves. They quickly got a first down at the 35, but two incompletions suddenly put the Chargers in a third-and-10 situation with 1:14 to go. Quarterback Philip Rivers hit tight end Antonio Gates --playing at about 65 percent with a toe injury that kept him out of practice all week -- for an 8-yard gain to make it fourth-and-2 from the 27.

It was time to kick a field goal. The Chargers felt good that new kicker Kris Brown -- who was playing for the injured Nate Kaeding -- was about to attempt a manageable 45-yarder to tie the score.

But it’s never that easy for San Diego, especially when it comes to special teams. Guard Louis Vasquez was called for a false start, adding to the Chargers’ maddening litany of special-teams issues.

Now, it was a 50-yarder. Tough; very tough.

And it was no good, as the ball bounced off the goal post, adding to the Chargers’ season-long misery. The Chargers did so much right in the sequence, but they made enough silly miscues to undo themselves again.
Mike TolbertHarry How/Getty ImagesMike Tolbert and the San Diego Chargers are struggling to avoid costly mistakes.
SAN DIEGO -- Just because the San Diego Chargers have been here before, it doesn’t mean they know the escape route or they are positive the usual late-season revival is in the works.

I heard the word “hope” a lot in the losing locker room Sunday. It’s getting to the point where it seems as if the Chargers are starting to wonder themselves if the Keystone Kops act is ever going to end. Doubt may be creeping in by the Pacific Ocean.

Asked when he thinks the Chargers will finally put their mistakes behind them, safety Eric Weddle replied: “I hope it’s next week against Tennessee. ... I hope it’s soon.”

The truth is the Chargers are one game from the halfway point of their season and they're 2-5. And they're 2-5 because they continue to make the same mistakes, loss after frustrating loss.

Sunday’s 23-20 loss to New England had a familiar look: turnovers, special-teams follies and a late rally that fell short. All the major ingredients of San Diego’s self-inflicted defeat cocktail.

“Until we stop making those same mistakes,” Weddle said, “we will not win. I hope it changes soon.”

The Chargers -- who have two tough games coming up against Tennessee and Houston before the bye -- and their fans would be fooling themselves if they were to think their fortunes will suddenly change just because they have in the past three seasons. In 2007, the Chargers were 5-5 and finished 11-5. In 2008, they were 4-8 and finished 8-8. Last season, they were 2-3 and finished 13-3.

There hasn’t been any sign from this team that it is ready to finish games. The hole is getting deep. If San Diego wins two-thirds of its remaining games, it will still only be 8-8. With Kansas City sitting at 4-2 (including a win over the Chargers), it is safe to say the Chargers' string of four straight AFC West championship is in jeopardy if the turnaround isn’t swift and emphatic.

The pall over the locker room Sunday seemed to suggest the team understands.

“It’s on us, the players,” Weddle said. “The coaches are doing a great job. It’s us who keep making the same mistakes.”

What is maddening to the Chargers is they know they are close to being a dominant team. The Chargers entered the game ranked No. 1 in the NFL on offense and on defense. Once again, they played well on both sides of the ball.

New England had only 179 total yards. San Diego harassed Patriots quarterback Tom Brady all game. He was never comfortable. The Chargers, who outgained their first six opponents by nearly 1,100 yards, had 363 yards of offense Sunday.

The problems? The same old things.

The Chargers committed four turnovers. Two of Sunday’s giveaways were head-scratchers. Rookie Richard Goodman made a nice 25-yard catch (his first in the NFL). However, after going down untouched, he simply left the ball on the field, thinking the play was over. New England recovered. Then, fullback Jacob Hester let a backfield pass from Philip Rivers bounce, thinking the play was dead. New England picked it up and returned it deep into San Diego territory.

Speaking of playing dead, the San Diego special teams had its usual assortment of disasters, including a failed onside kick and long punt return allowed. San Diego saved the worst special-teams mistake for last.

After the Chargers scrambled back into the game by outscoring New England 17-3 in the fourth quarter, they had a chance to tie the score with a 45-yard field goal in the final seconds. But they committed a false start, forcing new kicker Kris Brown -- the replacement for the injured Nate Kaeding -- to attempt a 50-yarder. He hit the upright.

And so continued the Chargers’ stunning self-destruction.

“I just don’t think we gave ourselves a chance,” San Diego coach Norv Turner said.

It’s starting to look like the Chargers are wondering when they’ll ever give themselves a chance to win a game.

[+] EnlargeNorv Turner
AP Photo/Denis PoroyCostly turnovers continue to be a problem for Norv Turner's Chargers.
The following are other key aspects of Sunday’s game:

Falling behind in the AFC West: The Chargers now have two teams to climb above in the AFC West if they want to win their fifth straight division championship.

While the Chargers are stumbling, the Chiefs continue to make strides. Kansas City, which has a very manageable remaining schedule, got back in the win column Sunday with a 22-point victory over the Jaguars. The Chargers also have to worry about catching Oakland. The Raiders had their best game in eight years, embarrassing the host Broncos 59-14. The Raiders, who beat San Diego two weeks ago, are 3-4.

“We know we dug a hole,” Weddle said. “We have to find a way to get out of it.”

Defense stars: Teams that hold New England to 179 yards of offense and Brady to 159 yards passing usually win. The Chargers were terrific on defense.

The defense was playing in stressful situations because of the fumbles and special-teams mistakes. But make no mistake, Ron Rivera’s crew played wining football Sunday. Brady was pressured all game. San Diego, which has 25 sacks, had four Sunday. Newcomer Antwan Barnes had two sacks and he is giving the team a pass-rushing burst at the position that soon-to-be former Charger Shawne Merriman once dominated from in San Diego.

Gates steps up: San Diego tight end Antonio Gates deserved to leave the stadium a winner Sunday.

Gates didn’t practice all week because of a toe injury. But with starting receivers Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee out with hamstring injuries, Gates willed himself onto the field.

Gates was clearly not himself. He was used mostly as a decoy in the first half when the Chargers were sputtering on offense. But he took over in the fourth quarter, when he had all four of his catches, including a touchdown.

Gates was limping noticeably in the locker room as he headed to the training room. This player is a superstar and his toughness can never be denied.

Rapid Reaction: Patriots 23, Chargers 20

October, 24, 2010
10/24/10
7:46
PM ET
SAN DIEGO -- Rapid reaction from the New England Patriots' 23-20 win against the San Diego Chargers:

What it means: Stunning finish. This was a game the Patriots were in control of midway through the third quarter, ahead 20-3 after a terrific long drive. But the Chargers came roaring back. With the Patriots leading 23-20 with two minutes remaining, they went for it on fourth-and-1. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was stopped for a loss, turning the ball over to the Chargers. It was almost like fourth-and-2 in Indianapolis all over again. But a Kris Brown 50-yard field goal with 23 seconds left hit the left upright and bounced into the field of play, giving the Patriots the hold-on-by-the-seat-of-your-pants victory. The field goal would have been 45 yards, but a false start penalty pushed it to 50.

Onside kick hurts Patriots: After the Chargers closed to 23-13 midway through the fourth quarter, they successfully executed an onside kick. The Patriots had their regular return unit on the field, and while it was an extremely well-executed onside kick, the result also led to some natural second-guessing as to whether the Patriots should have done something differently from a personnel perspective in anticipation of the onside kick. The Chargers moved up the field for a touchdown, closing to 23-20 with 4:01 remaining.

Kickoff out of bounds aids Patriots: After the Chargers scored to make it 23-20 with 4:01 left, the Patriots got the ball at their own 40 after Kris Brown’s kickoff sailed out of bounds. The Patriots worked the clock, not snapping the ball until late on the play clock, but faced a fourth-and-1 from their 49 after an 8-yard catch by Wes Welker, a run for no gain by Danny Woodhead and then a 1-yard catch by Welker. The Patriots challenged the spot on the Welker catch at the two-minute warning, but the ruling on the field stood. That set up a fourth-and-1 and BenJarvus Green-Ellis was stopped, although the defense rose up.

Offensive adjustments in second half: The Patriots’ offense played as poorly as it has all season in the first half. They had just 38 net yards in the first two quarters. But some adjustments at the break sparked an 18-play touchdown drive (including penalties) that chewed up 8:35 and culminated in Green-Ellis’ 1-yard touchdown run as the Patriots went ahead 20-3. It was the drive of the game, as it featured two third-down conversions and a fourth-and-1 conversion as well. The touchdown came on third-and-goal from the 1. The adjustments included going to a semi no-huddle type attack and inserting Ryan Wendell at left guard in place of Dan Connolly.

Defense bends but doesn’t break: A unit that is growing on the job, the Patriots’ defense did its part against the NFL’s No. 1 offense, and of course, received some help from the Chargers, who shot themselves in the foot. Still, credit must be given to a defense that in Week 3 against the Bills looked like one of the worst in the NFL. The final stop -- making the Chargers set up for a long field goal -- was huge.

Patriots injuries to watch: Safety Pat Chung left the game in the first half with a knee injury and did not return. Receiver Matt Slater, one of the Patriots’ top special teams players, left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury and did not return.

What’s next: The Patriots return home for a late-afternoon Halloween game against the Vikings. Think there will be some pregame hype for that one with Randy Moss returning to town? The Patriots will be donning their throwback uniforms in the game.
SAN DIEGO -– A look at a game that got interesting late:

What does it mean: The San Diego Chargers are 2-5 and have to be considered to be in trouble in the AFC West. They trail Kansas City (4-2) and Oakland (3-4) in the division and are tied with Denver for last place at 2-5.

Tomorrow’s talker: Antonio Gates is a warrior. He didn’t practice all week with a toe injury. Yet, he was a big part of San Diego’s fourth-quarter comeback when it outscored the Patriots 17-3. It was just another reminder of just how clutch and special Gates is.

Trending: Same old Chargers. They could have easily won this game. But turnovers and poor play on special teams did this team in once again. The Chargers had a false start on a last-second, 45-yard field goal attempt turning it into a 50-yard try. Kris Brown, who is filling in for an injured Nate Kaeding, missed it. The result: another close loss.

What’s next: San Diego plays host to Tennessee on Sunday and then goes to Houston. It doesn’t get any easier for a floundering team.

Chargers' Antonio Gates is active

October, 24, 2010
10/24/10
3:39
PM ET
San Diego tight end Antonio Gates is active and expected to start against New England. He missed the entire week of practice with a toe injury he suffered at St. Louis.

The Chargers will need Gates, even if he’s not at full strength.

San Diego starting receivers Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee are inactive with hamstring injuries. Buster Davis and Patrick Crayton will start for the Chargers.

Naanee is listed as the third quarterback and he could only quarterback if starter Philip Rivers and backup Billy Volek were injured. The team cut No. 3 quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan to make room for kicker Kris Brown.

He will kick for a game or two while kicker Nate Kaeding is out with a groin injury.

In other AFC West related news and notes:

The Kansas City Chiefs promoted receiver Verran Tucker from the practice squad. He is a rookie free agent. To make room for Tucker, Kansas City cut undrafted rookie Jeremy Horne. He was a preseason star, who didn’t make an impact in the regular season. Horne could end up on the Chiefs’ practice squad.

The San Francisco Chronicle has an interesting look at the slow start by No. 8 overall pick Rolando McClain. It’s early, but McClain has not made many big plays.

Apparently, former Kansas City czar Carl Peterson does not have a future with the Dolphins. That marriage has been speculated about since Peterson was shown the door by the Chiefs nearly two years ago.

Sean Payton played the percentages

September, 28, 2010
9/28/10
6:20
PM ET
I know a lot of New Orleans fans are questioning Sean Payton’s decision to have Garrett Hartley attempt a 29-yard field goal on a first-down play in Sunday’s loss to New Orleans. The mailbag is full of those questions.

You all know what happened. Hartley missed the attempt, the Falcons went down the field and won the game, fans are second-guessing Payton and the Saints worked out veteran kickers John Carney and Kris Brown on Tuesday. Still no word on if they plan to sign either of them.

When Payton decided to kick on first down, my gut reaction was it was the right call. The Saints were tired and needed to put an end to the game. They had put Hartley in position for a chip shot. I didn’t think it was the wrong call.

But, when I started hearing so many critics, I decided to check into the percentages. I reached out to ESPN Stats & Information and asked what history has shown about field goal attempts from 29 yards or less.

The response I got was a survey of all field-goal attempts during the regular season and post season since 2001. On field goals of exactly 29 yards, kickers have made 231 of 255 attempts. That’s 90.6 percent.

On field goal attempts of 29 yards or less, kickers are 2,574 of 2,686. That’s 95.8 percent.

Could Payton have run a couple more plays and gotten a few more yards? Sure. Would it really have mattered? I’m not so sure. He was playing the percentages and the percentages said an NFL kicker should make that field goal more than 90 percent of the time.

Houston Texans cutdown analysis

September, 4, 2010
9/04/10
7:31
PM ET
Check here for a full list of Houston’s roster moves.

Biggest surprises: At times, the Texans touted running backs Jeremiah Johnson and Chris Henry. But they are both gone now, Johnson likely due at least in part to a toe injury. Veteran Derrick Ward gets the last running back spot, and the Texans will move forward with Arian Foster, Steve Slaton and Ward as they look for a big jump from their running game. Another player that got some early hype from Gary Kubiak, defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard, didn’t stick.

No-brainers: Considering quality and draft status ahead of them, low-ranking depth chart guys were easy choices for the waiver wire: Receivers Bobby Williams and Derrick Townsel, offensive tackles Steve Maneri, Brett Helms and Cole Pemberton, defensive tackle Mitch Unrein, linebacker Will Patterson and cornerback Mark Parson. Perhaps we will see a few of them who did OK resurface on the practice squad.

What’s next: With the running back issue resolved, the Texans might not have too much waiver-wire surfing to do. They could upgrade over Jesse Nading at their final end spot. While they are quite young with their five cornerbacks, they seemed committed to them all, at least right now. While they put Kris Brown and Andre Davis on IR and Anthony Hill on PUP, they did not announce Brian Cushing is on the suspended-reserve list. So they might still be in line to gain one roster spot.
John McClain and Mark Berman report that the last original member of the Houston Texans, Kris Brown, has lost the kicking battle to Neil Rackers.

The two were roughly even through camp and in the preseason. But the Texans decided on new blood as opposed to extended loyalty.

Brown had some deadly misses last season, and they are way more familiar to Texans’ folks than the difficulties Rackers had in Arizona.

I’ve said frequently that I think change of scenery can be good for both and is the right choice psychologically.

If Brown missed a crucial kick Sept. 12 in the opener against the Colts, we’d think “They should have made a change.” If the same happens for Rackers, I think it will be more, “Well, at least they made a change.”

Thoughts on Buccaneers 24, Texans 17

September, 3, 2010
9/03/10
12:27
AM ET
Some bullet point thoughts on the Texans’ 24-17 loss to the Buccaneers Thursday night:
  • Houston sat 29 players.
  • Neil Rackers hit a 21-yard field goal while Kris Brown was short on a 56-yarder in the final chances in the kicking competition. Expect the guy who doesn’t stick to find work with relative speed.
  • Jeremiah Johnson turned three carries into 20 yards while Chris Henry needed 15 carries for 51 yards as the Texans got a look at their third and fourth backs. I like Johnson as the third.
  • After Dan Orlovsky threw two interceptions to Corey Lynch -- one for a 91-yard touchdown -- John David Booty threw two touchdown passes. Gary Kubiak expressed continued confidence in Orlovsky after the game, but what is he supposed to say?
  • The Texans went for it on fourth down five times and converted four.
  • Even without Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Jacoby Jones, Arian Foster and Steve Slaton Houston managed 417 total yards. The Texans ran 76 plays compared to 49 for Tampa Bay, though time of possession was only 32:55 to 27:05.
  • Dorin Dickerson’s one-handed 27-yard reception from Booty was the best catch I remember seeing from an AFC South player in the preseason.
  • Rookie linebacker Darryl Sharpton got the start and was credited with six tackles and a sack. Xavier Adibi started on the strong side. The Brian Cushing replacement strategy looks like it will be Adibi in his spot or Sharpton at weakside with Zac Diles moved to strong.

Three things: Cowboys at Texans

August, 28, 2010
8/28/10
4:13
PM ET
Three things I’ll be watching for in Cowboys at Houston:

Signs of life: The Texans were far too flat last week in New Orleans and it was a huge disappointment. It shouldn’t take a game against Texas’ more popular franchise and a preview of a Week 3 regular-season game to give them spark. That quick and meaningful rematch means this game will be very vanilla. But the Houston scoop ought to be the tastiest vanilla you’ve ever had. Starters should play the longest of any preseason game.

Plays in the pass rush and in coverage: The Cowboys' line may be a vulnerability. Let’s see some linemen beat some blocks and make things difficult on Tony Romo and the quarterbacks. Dallas has some talented receivers, and it’d be a nice confidence boost for one of the young cornerbacks to make a big play or two to get the ball back for the offense.

Kickoffs: They’ve been an underrated part of the Kris Brown-Neil Rackers training camp competition. The Texans haven’t been happy with kickoffs from either one, and Gary Kubiak said this week that better kickoffs could easily sway what’s been a very close competition so far.

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