2010 Position Preview: Offensive line

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Right tackle Eric Winston has started 55 consecutive games for the Houston Texans.

The following article contains excerpts from the 2010 Houston Texans Yearbook, the Texans' official season preview magazine, that goes on sale July 30 at Texans Training Camp, presented by Comcast, and the *Go Texan Store at Reliant Stadium.*


OFFENSIVE LINE Who's here: T Duane Brown (projected starter), T Eric Winston (projected starter), G Antoine Caldwell (projected starter), G Kasey Studdard (projected starter), C Chris Myers (projected starter), T Rashad Butler, T Adam Stenavich, T Steve Maneri, T Cole Pemberton, G/C Wade Smith, G Mike Brisiel, G/C Chris White, G Shelley Smith, C Brett Helms

Who's new: Wade Smith (free agent signing), Shelley Smith (rookie draft pick), Maneri (rookie free agent), Pemberton (rookie free agent)

Who's gone: G Chester Pitts (free agent)

Former assistant head coach/offense Alex Gibbs, the zone blocking guru who joined the Texans in 2008, left Houston this offseason to coach with the Seattle Seahawks. The Texans have no shortage of line coaches in his absence, with John Benton, Frank Pollack and Bruce Matthews all returning. New coordinator Rick Dennison also was a long-time offensive line coach for the Denver Broncos.

As of now, another stalwart on the Texans' offensive line, Chester Pitts, is also not back for the 2010 season. Houston's erstwhile left guard started the first 112 games in team history until he suffered a major knee injury in Week 2 at Tennessee in 2009. He remains a free agent as he continues to rehab toward a clean bill of health.

Fierce competition for playing time looms on the interior offensive line. Heading into training camp, Antoine Caldwell, Chris Myers and Kasey Studdard sit alongside each other atop the depth chart. They'll be challenged by Wade Smith, a former Kansas City Chief who can play all three spots; Mike Brisiel, the Texans' starting right guard before a season-ending injury last year in Week 5; Chris White, who shared playing time with Caldwell after Brisiel's injury in 2009; and rookie Shelley Smith (6-4, 308), a sixth-round draft pick out of Colorado State.

"We are as competitive in there as we've ever been as a team," Kubiak said during OTAs. "It's going to be hard to hold a job and it's going to be very competitive to get one, so that makes the team better."

At the tackle positions, Eric Winston and Duane Brown are entrenched in the starting lineup. Winston has started 55 consecutive games and is emerging as a potential Pro Bowler, while Brown enters his third season as a starter after being drafted in the first round in 2008. Rashad Butler enters his fifth NFL season and will serve as the swing tackle behind Winston and Brown.

Providing depth are tackle Adam Stenavich and center Brett Helms, who both spent last season on the Texans' practice squad. The Texans also have a pair of undrafted rookie free agents at tackle in Steve Maneri (Temple) and Cole Pemberton (Colorado State).

Spotlight on: Antoine Caldwell Coaches' commentary
"He's still learning the game and learning what it is to be in the NFL, but if he can keep improving as much as he has since he made his first start last year, we'll be in good shape. He's got an aggressive attitude, and he's a bigger body, maybe a little more powerful than some of our other guys in terms of at the line of scrimmage one-on-one versus a good three-technique. With his size and explosiveness, he's able to get some things done right off the line."
- Offensive line coach John Benton

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