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Texans Moving Linebackers and Ends, Mario Staying Put for Now

The Houston Texans new linebacker coach, Reggie Herring, shed some new light on the future of the Texans’ defense.  Now a 3-4 defense, players like defensive end Mario Williams and outside linebacker Brian Cushing have been rumored to be moving positions.  However, Herring set the record straight with’s Nick Scurfield.  Herring said he will keep Mario Williams at defensive end for now; however, Jesse Nading and Connor Barwin will be moving to outside linebackers.  Herring also said Cushing will play at the strong side inside linebacker position for better tight end coverage and in the box presence, DeMeco Ryans to the weakside inside linebacker position.  Below are some excerpts from the’s Q&A interview with Reggie Herring.  You can read more of the interview  here.

“Well, I think the first rule of thumb is don’t get locked into a thought and put yourself in a position where you say, ‘This is the only place they can play.’ We have to have flexibility, and initially until we work out the kinks and find the proper places for everybody, where they can be the most productive for this team, we’re probably going to take a look at Brian inside at the Mike ‘backer position, strongside on the tight end, and then DeMeco will be the weakside Mo inside ‘backer. (They’ll be) the Mike and the Mo, two inside guys. We’ve got to take advantage of what we see in Brian Cushing as a tremendous anchor on the tight end side as far as securing the box physically in the run game, and then using him in our package to pressure and blitz him on the inside. At Dallas, Bradie James, same position, led the NFL in inside linebackers in sacks. He had eight in one year in this package from blitzing inside. So the numbers are there, the opportunities will be there.

“I feel like starting out there with those two guys inside gives us a solid anchor point, and now we’ve got to work to the outside and find some guys that can rush the passer, which is probably the biggest, most important position. They’re all important, but as far as this package goes, the outside ‘backer is the premier position where we’re going to rely on a lot of sacks and a lot of pressure on the quarterback. So, pass rush is a priority. Connor Barwin and Jesse Nading we’ve moved outside. Between the draft and free agency, we hope to fill out some pieces here of the puzzle that are real important to this defense, and that’s the pass rush on the outside.”

“I think Mario falls into the same category of we’ll start him out at defensive end and then see where he goes. Hopefully that’ll work out there, and if it doesn’t, then we’ll find another place to put him. But right now, I know Coach (Phillips) is wanting to try him at defensive end. And he’s had a lot of success with guys in the past. You’ve heard of Bruce Smith, who is the all-time sack leader in the NFL, and he did it from that position. And then there’s Reggie White and other guys he had at the Eagles and whatnot. Coach has been around, and he knows players. He knows where they’ll fit in this package and be the most productive. The player’s got to meet us halfway. They’ve got to meet us halfway, and if they do that with a great attitude, they’ll flourish. But we’re not locked into anything whatsoever.

“We do know this: When we go to third-down, long-yardage situations, Mario is going to be playing defensive end outside, what he did here all day before. When we go to our sub package, he’s going to be (a) hand-down outside pass rusher. So nothing’s going to change there. And then we’ll go from there and see where we’re at. He’s a tremendous player. He has assets, and those assets need to be used. Therefore, he’s productive, we’ll win and everybody’s happy, everybody wins. So that’s our goal, and hopefully that’s what we’ll achieve.”

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