NFL Nation: Will Demps

Observation Deck: Jets-Texans

August, 15, 2011
The Houston Texans are scheduled for only one prime-time game in the regular season, Week 16 at Indianapolis. But the new-look Texans got the Monday Night Football spotlight on the opening weekend of the preseason.

Viewers saw a team already thinned out at running back get thinner as a revamped defense did some nice things in a 20-16 win over the New York Jets.

One man's quick observations…
  1. The Texans lacked some of firepower, with Andre Johnson (finger), Arian Foster (hamstring), Brian Cushing (knee) and prize free-agent cornerback Johnathan Joseph (groin) sitting out. We saw more, sooner, of Jacoby Jones, Derrick Ward, Darryl Sharpton and Jason Allen as a result.
  2. Ward started and didn’t last long before suffering a head injury, leaving the team with only Chris Ogbonnaya and Javarris Williams as its running backs. Houston tried running Ogbonnaya inside too much, but got him going more as a bootleg pass target for Matt Leinart. He caught a short touchdown pass among his team-high six receptions for 67 yards. He ran for the game-winning touchdown from a yard out with just under 2:00 left.
  3. Ankle injuries to Antoine Caldwell and Kasey Studdard could mean the team could be thinned for a time at guard as well.
  4. Matt Schaub hit on just 2 of 5 passes before yielding to Leinart. Schaub was just a touch off and two of his targets, Owen Daniels and Kevin Walter, were unable to pull in balls they got their hands on.
  5. The Texans shouldn’t feel obligated to use James Casey as the first-string fullback just because he was the primary plan once Vonta Leach left. They later signed free-agent Lawrence Vickers. He shouldn’t be waiting until the second half for a chance to impact the game. He quickly had a 22-yard catch and run.
  6. Second-string inside linebacker Xavier Adibi had a nice night, though he was unblocked on one of his two sacks. Another No. 2, outside linebacker Jesse Nading, was also productive with a sack and a forced fumble. Second-round pick Brooks Reed looked good, showing good burst at the snap. He had one good rush followed by a nice recognition in which he stopped chasing to jump and knock down a pass.
  7. The late work of undrafted rookie outside linebacker Bryan Braman out of West Texas A&M is the sort that makes a guy impossible to hide for a practice squad spot. No matter the caliber of the people attempting to block him, he showed a knack for getting to the quarterback, even if he allowed rookie quarterback Greg McElroy to shrug out of a sure sack on the final possession of the game.
  8. Will Demps fielded kickoffs and punts early on without much affect. Trindon Holliday was out hurt and the team wisely didn’t choose to look at Jones and Danieal Manning, veteran starters who didn’t need to be exposed to injury risk on special teams.

Posted by's Paul Kuharsky

Houston Texans

The Texans kept safety Eugene Wilson with a three-year deal and freed up nearly $4 million in salary-cap space with the release of Anthony Weaver, Will Demps and Ephraim Salaam, writes John McClain.

Chronicle blogger Stephanie Stradley provides context and links to two recent Houston radio interviews. Like Dunta Robinson, DeMeco Ryans isn't happy about his contract situation.

Indianapolis Colts

How do the Colts go about filling Marvin Harrison's spot? Mike Chappell thinks it will be with a draft pick.

Michael Marot runs through the end of Harrison's tenure in Indy.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Nothing today.

Tennessee Titans

Sara Walsh of WUSA-TV in Washington, who used to host his radio show in Nashville, texted with Albert Haynesworth.

Jim Wyatt's status reports on each of the Titans' free agents. Look for text at the top right of the page, then hit the arrow.

Wyatt's not expecting a deal for Kerry Collins with the Titans before free agency opens.

Terry McCormick also looks at the Titans' free-agents to be.

Posted by's Paul Kuharsky

HOUSTON -- Prevailing wisdom is that the Texans' defense will be pretty good up front -- where Mario Williams, Amobi Okoye and DeMeco Ryans work -- and pretty iffy in the back.

Cornerback Dunta Robinson won't return from his injury until October or so, which leaves questions at cornerback. And the starting safeties right now, C.C. Brown at strong and Will Demps at free, are not the fastest duo.

If the rush isn't constant, some early quarterbacks Houston faces -- Ben Roethlisberger, David Garrard and Peyton Manning in the first five weeks -- could pick the Texans apart.

"It's a challenge for us, definitely people think the secondary is a weakness, but that's what preseason is for," said Demps, who joined the team after last season had started. "This is my first offseason and training camp with these guys and I see a big change...

"Until [Robinson] gets back we have to hold it down."

The Texans emphasized speed-and-size combinations at cornerback in the offseason, bringing in veteran Jacques Reeves from Dallas (just 5-foot-11, but 192 pounds) and drafting Antwaan Molden (6-foot-1, 198). The Texans believe they are asking Reeves to do things better suited to him and that Molden is quickly grasping the NFL game though his college experience came at Eastern Kentucky. As a rookie in 2007, Fred Bennett led the team in interceptions with three in 13 games and eight starts.

"I don't think it's as bad as people think it is... I'm real happy with them right now," defensive coordinator Richard Smith said of his secondary. "We certainly miss Robinson, not having him is a very negative things for us... [But] I'm excited about the back end. I think we're pretty solid at safety. It's not that we've got great speed at the position, but we've got a lot of competition going on there."

I'll be watching the group Saturday night at Reliant Stadium to see how much it gives up to Jay Cutler and the Broncos.

Posted by's Paul Kuharsky

Greetings from Houston, where I'll check out the Texans this morning. But first, a quick spin around the division...

Houston Texans

Andre Davis is looking to build on last year's strong finish, writes Megan Manfull.

Will Demps has made himself a nice career by refusing to take no for an answer, Steve Campbell says.

Back after missing time with a hamstring injury, cornerback Demarcus Faggins is back at practice. He took a lot of heat last year from fans and media. The Chronicle's notebook also says Andre Johnson (groin) probably won't play Saturday night against Denver.

Dale Robertson says Sage Rosenfels is doing just fine accepting his status as Houston's No. 1A quarterback.

Indianapolis Colts

Three of the four starters in the Colts secondary were pretty much inseparable during the offseason, Mike Chappell tells us. Bob Sanders was busy rehabbing his shoulder. For the first time since 2000, Indianapolis is heading into a season with the same secondary as the year before.

Owner Jim Irsay is excited about the new stadium and says a fast start is imperative for the Colts. The Indianapolis Star's notebook also tells us because the team is so thin at linebacker right now, it's playing a lot of nickel defense.

Gijon Robinson in largely unknown but the tight end could be a significant piece of the Colts, writes

Jacksonville Jaguars

Here's an incredibly detailed account of the back and forth between the Jaguars and Derrick Harvey's agent. Great reporting by Vito Stellino.

Stellino shares his pluses and minuses so far for the Jaguars. He sees the offensive line as a concern.

Michael C. Wright chats with former defensive coordinator Mike Smith, who's now head coach I Atlanta.

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams worried that TV cameras at yesterday's practice were filming defensive signals, according the Times-Union's "Observation Deck."

When he decided where to sign, rookie Lamar Myles decided experience with the Jaguars' linebackers was more important that the opportunity for a roster spot, Wright reports.

Tennessee Titans

I watched the Titan defense work against the Ram offense at yesterday morning's practice, then was en route to Houston. The Tennessean's Jim Wyatt focused on the other side of the ball and says Vince Young had a very good day.

Fan favorite Drew Bennett felt the love as he returned to Nashville as a Ram, according to Jessica Hopp. Click on the screen to the right for a video on Bennett.

Game-day shuttles in Nashville will continue, as a private company will take over for the city, The Tennessean reports. It'll now cost $10 instead of $7.

Eddie George watched a practice and said Chris Johnson reminds him of a Marshall Faulk, says The Tennessean's notebook.