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Tate and Barwin on Pace to be Back for the 2011 Season

It was tough to be a Texan second-round draft pick last season, as two of them went down with season-ending ankle injuries in a matter of four weeks.

Both RB Ben Tate and DE Connor Barwin were lost for the season in the , a 2010 second-rounder from Auburn, was hurt in the Texans’ preseason opener at Arizona. Defensive end Connor Barwin, a 2009 second-rounder from Cincinnati, was hurt in the regular-season opener against Indianapolis.

Both may want to think about course defensive driving as they recover and get ready for 2011 to avoid the big injuries that cost them the entire 2010 season.

Tate was medically cleared in February, and Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison spoke about having him back with the club in 2011.

“We’re going to give him the ball a few times and see how he does,” Dennison said. “We’re looking at it as he ended up with a redshirt year. He still has the ability that we liked to get him in the second round. We’ll take some turns. Obviously, Arian’s (Foster) our number one guy, and then we’ll go from there.”

As far as Barwin goes, he is going to push for playing time at strongside linebacker in 2011 with another second-round pick, rookie Brooks Reed, under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

“Connor Barwin certainly has a lot of potential,” Phillips said on Monday. “Missing a year has hurt him, but he’s got ability to rush the passer, and that’s what we like. Anybody that plays outside ‘backer for us, we want him to be able to rush the passer. That’s going to be a key thing.”

No matter how you look at it, having both players back is a good thing for the Texans and they should know all about TX defensive driving by the time the 2011 season kicks off.

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