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Barwin waiting on pins and needles


Connor Barwin came to Houston three weeks ago, but he wasn't reporting for organized team activities like the rest of the Texans' draft class. The second-round pick out of Cincinnati was with his mother to meet with a realtor and check out housing options in Houston. After a brief visit, it was back to Cincinnati's campus, where Barwin has been since the draft and will remain until June 12.

The defensive end hasn't been in school all semester, but an NFL rule prohibits rookies from reporting to their teams until their college's last final exam has been taken. Cincinnati is on a trimester or "quarter" system and doesn't offer its last exam of the school year until June 11.

In the meantime, Barwin has been on a workout routine that would make Texans strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright proud. In addition to training with his school's football team and strength coach, Barwin has been doing boxing training to work on his agility, footwork, conditioning and hand speed. He spent last week in Atlanta lifting and working on position-specific drills with Georgia defensive line coach Jon Fabris and David Pollack, a 2005 first-round pick by the Bengals whom Barwin met when Pollack was rehabbing a neck injury at UC in 2006.

"(Not being with the Texans) has been a little bit frustrating, but the way that I've been able to deal with it is to stay busy," Barwin said. "It's kind of been nice because instead of going to the draft and rookies having to jump into going to camps OTAs, I got a minute there to take a break, take a deep breath and then really stay busy and really prepare myself as best I can. So I kind of took it as an opportunity to get in the best shape I can and go into camp healthy and ready to go."

{QUOTE}Texans defensive line coach Bill Kollar has been in contact with Barwin on a weekly basis. Barwin also has been busy studying DVDs that Kollar sends him, observing run techniques, pass-rushing moves and different stunts that the Texans run.

He has only one season of experience at defensive end, having played tight end in his first three seasons at Cincinnati.

"I'm just trying to get him squared away on the defenses that we have and stuff so that when he comes in here on the 12th, he's ready to end up going and he's not unsure what to do," Kollar said. "We've gone over it and I've talked to him, and he's pretty much up to date on what we're doing right now. The biggest thing for him is he just needs a ton of technique work because he's only played defensive end for one year, so he's got a lot of catching up to do that way."

When Barwin takes the field for the Texans' June 15-17 minicamp, Kollar plans to throw him right in with the team. He said he expects to line Barwin up at end opposite Mario Williams on passing downs, which will allow Antonio Smith to slide inside to defensive tackle, and as the backup to Williams at right end in base packages.

"We hope that he can be a pretty big part of our nickel package and pressure the quarterback on second-and-long and third-and-long situations," Kollar said. "He's a very athletic guy. Really fast, has good quickness, not a real big, bulky, strong guy right now, so he's got some ways to go to end up getting a lot stronger in the weight room and stuff. But we're hoping with his ability to run and seeing how he played hard in college and stuff, that we think he can come and contribute this year."

Barwin recorded 12.0 sacks as a senior, the most sacks by a first-year defensive player in NCAA history. He knows that the Texans expect him to be an immediate impact player on a defense that has struggled to find a pass rush outside of Williams.

"My expectations are to be a big part of our defense and us winning," he said. "I want to make plays on defense and special teams. I know the coaches are telling me that I need to be a huge guy on special teams, and also on defense be a guy that has to put pressure on the quarterback."

In a matter of days, he'll finally get a chance to start living up to those expectations.

"I'm so eager," Barwin said. "I can't wait. I'm about a week away from heading down there, so I'm very excited to start practicing, getting to know all my teammates. I'm excited about getting involved in the community. I'm excited about moving down there and making it my new home."

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