Season Preview: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL
Coach's Commentary: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL
The Texans’ defensive line was part of a defense that ranked fourth in the NFL against the run (96.0 yards/game) in 2011. Much of the pressure generated by Wade Phillips’ 3-4 front started with outstanding play from defensive ends
Smith, a team captain, set a career-high with 6.5 sacks and made his first Pro Bowl. The self-proclaimed "Ninja Assassin" had at least half a sack in each of the first five games of the season, his eighth in the NFL out of Oklahoma State.
“Antonio’s a vital part of this defense,” Phillips said last September. “He’s a really good pass rusher, and we try to put him in positions where he can get one-on-one… He’s an all out player. He plays as hard as you can play every play.”
Watt had a Pro Bowl-caliber rookie season after being drafted 11th overall out of Wisconsin. He had 56 tackles, 5.5 sacks, a team-high 7.0 tackles for loss and four passes defensed. He had 3.5 sacks in the playoffs, tying for the NFL postseason lead, and a sensational 29-yard interception return for a touchdown in the Wild Card victory over Cincinnati.
“He is a very smart player,” Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said. “He’s got a tremendous nose. When he can’t get to the quarterback, he watches the quarterback’s eyes, he gets his hands up. We ask him to do a lot in our zone-dog schemes and stuff, and he’s just exceptional.”
The Texans have no shortage of depth on the D-line, starting with defensive end