About the Author
Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
Connor Barwin was one of the Texans' most important reserves, a pass rusher with plenty of potential, and the season-ending ankle injury he suffered Week One vs. Indianapolis weakens the club's DE depth. The good news for Houston: starting DEs Mario Williams and Antonio Smith can be a rather disruptive tandem, as they showed in the opener when they combined for 1½ sacks and eight QB hits. Williams, a two-time Pro Bowler, is an elite pass rusher capable of dominating — no one has sacked Peyton Manning more since Williams entered the league in '06 — and the strong Smith can be a tough matchup off the left edge. Smith, who notched no sacks in his first seven games in Houston, has five in 10 games since. Newly signed Ryan Denney (ex-Bills) and Adewale Ogunleye (ex-Bears) and second-year pro Jesse Nading, a former undrafted free agent, will back up Williams and Smith. Denney and Ogunleye, head coach Gary Kubiak said, were signed because they were ready to contribute for 20 plays a game.