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Texans vastly improved


Ask the Miami Dolphins if these are last year's Houston Texans.

The Texans scored a major upset win in Miami in week one and will try to ease into their bye week with a win over the visiting Jaguars this Sunday that would even the Texans' record at 2-2.

"You never know what can happen," linebacker Jay Foreman said. "You can always get hot. We have the talent, the right people and the right coaches. It's just a matter of us being confident and doing what we're supposed to do. We just need to focus on getting off to a good start and going into the bye week with a better record than last year and improve from that."

The Texans' 4-12 record in their inaugural season last year included a 21-19 win at Jacksonville that was the expansion franchise's first-ever road win.

Since then the Texans have added another offseason of talent to their roster. They spent money in free agency to fortify their offensive line, and they spent the third pick of the draft on wide receiver Andre Johnson, who has already established himself as the Texans' star pass-catcher.

Johnson joins a young cast of skill-position stars, including first overall pick of the 2002 draft, quarterback David Carr, and wide receiver Jabar Gaffney. A solid core of veteran players, such as former Jaguars defensive tackle Gary Walker, cornerback Aaron Glenn and linebacker Jamie Sharper, make the Texans very formidable. Now, what about the young and unproven players, such as rookie nose tackle Terrance Martin, who are being asked to fill in the gaps?

"Our success will be based on how fast that young talent can come together and realize what it takes to be competitive," coach Dom Capers said. "Will we be better than we were last year? I believe we will, but I've never got into trying to predict records or where we're going to finish. We just need to continue to see improvement and I believe we will."

This much seems to be a given: The Texans have a young pitch and catch combination in Carr and Johnson that could one day challenge Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison for the top spot in the AFC South.

"Last year we didn't have the options we have this year. We match up with anyone," Carr said.

In the win in Miami, Carr was 17 of 31 for 266 yards and one touchdown, a game-winning bomb to speedster Corey Bradford. The trio of Johnson, Gaffney and Bradford combined for 11 catches and 231 yards in that game, each member of that trio was over 70 receiving yards, and each had a reception of 28 yards or greater. Yeah, the Texans have some guys who can make the big play.

"If people are going to direct too much attention outside to those guys, we have to take advantage of that by running the football. If they are going to try to stop us from running the football, we have to be able to get the ball to those guys. That's what you're hoping for," Capers said.

Therein lies the rub: The Texans' running game is not very good. They signed formers Jaguars running back Stacey Mack and guard Zach Wiegert, but the running game is still the weak link in the Texans' attack. They have yet to find a consistent balance between run and pass.

In their brief existence, the Texans have already established this trend: They are 3-1 when they have at least 30 rushing attempts. Wanna beat the Texans? Stop the run.

Defensively, the Texans were formidable from the start, thanks to the acquisitions of Gary Walker and Seth Payne (out for the season with an ACL) from the Jaguars, and cornerbacks Aaron Glenn and Marcus Coleman from the Jets, two salary cap-strapped teams who used the expansion draft as an amortization dumping ground.

"We feel we're a top defense. I'll take our defense against anybody's offense," linebacker Kailee Wong said.

"In a lot of people's minds we're still a first-year team, but a lot of people are going to be surprised, if that's how they choose to look at us," safety Eric Brown said. "We are not a bad team."

Just ask the Dolphins.

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