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Captains, Zach Cunningham, Draft picks and more | Dear Drew

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Charles Smith: Dear Drew, I haven't heard much about Zach Cunningham lately. Is he going to fit in and have a major role in the new defense?
DD: Absolutely. He's fitting in just fine and Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith is on record as saying he's "an excellent" football player. Smith also believes his 4-3 defensive scheme will allow linebackers like Cunningham to flourish. Cunningham has said he thinks this defense allows him to do what he does best: "run around, make plays, key on the ball." Cunningham will play the Will (weakside) linebacker spot.

James Broderick: Dear Drew, Could you update us on the Texans 2022 draft picks?
DD: I'm hesitant to answer this one because, by the time this article is up on the web, General Manager Nick Caserio might have added or subtracted from the mix. Right now, the Texans have a pick in every round, except for the fifth, because of their trade with Chicago for WR Anthony Miller. They also have two extra sixth-rounders. In total, they have eight selections in April.

Caserio has not been shy about making moves with draft picks and he said earlier this week that "using late-round picks potentially to acquire players, to get them in your building, I think it's something we're never going to shy away from."

So Caserio won't hesitate to add a veteran or two at the expense of a sixth or seventh-round draft pick.

Denzell Davis: Dear Drew, Will we see captain patches on the jersey again this year and who do you think will be our captains?
DD: I think you'll see patches, but that hasn't been confirmed. As far as who'll wear them, I wouldn't be surprised if you saw some or all from the mix of QB Tyrod Taylor, LB Christian Kirksey, C Justin Britt, S Justin Reid and LS Jon Weeks. You can expect an announcement on who's been chosen probably by the middle of next week.

Charles Castillo: Dear Drew, With everyone that was brought in, how is the TE position shaping up?
DD: The Texans are rolling with three: Pharaoh Brown, Jordan Akins and Rookie Brevin Jordan. Brown is an enormous target, has been solid in the red zone during Training Camp and had a good 2020. Akins, meanwhile, has really impressed Taylor with some of the difficult catches he's been able to make. During a production meeting before the preseason game at Dallas, Taylor told us he had at least two "WOW" moments during camp, where the normally stoic Taylor stopped and took notice of Akins' acrobatics. Jordan, meanwhile, is an intriguing pass-catcher who should help the offense. At times during practice over the last month, he's found ways to pick up large chunks of yardage in the middle of the field. I'm excited at what they all have to offer.

Justin Wolfe: Dear Drew, What team do you think may give us the hardest challenge?
DD: Every week is tough (sorry to use the cliché) but in the division, having to defend A.J. Brown and Julio Jones out on the edges seems like a nightmare. Thrown in Derrick Henry, who picked up 23 percent of his 2,027 yards in just two games against the Texans last year and the challenge only grows. The Texans face Tennessee on the road in Week 11 and at home in the season finale.

Outside the division, but inside the AFC, the Buffalo Bills are a nasty bunch. Houston faces them in western New York in Week 4.

From the NFC, any team led by Russell Wilson at quarterback is always going to be tough. He and the Seahawks pulled out an overtime win here in 2013 and then won a back-and-forth thriller in Seattle in 2017.

Those are the first three who jump to my mind as the toughest challenges.

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