For all those years the Texans had a base 3-4 defense (2002-2005 and 2011 to 2020, if you're keeping track) it was always somewhat strange talking about the identity of the defensive line as a position group. There were only three guys in at a time and very often there would be two in certain sub packages.
Sometimes an outside linebacker would come up and play end in a 4-3 look. We even sometimes saw a linebacker line up over the center. How was the D-line supposed to brand itself?
Three people could make a classic rock power trio. And even though you had a heck of lead singer in a three time defensive player of the year it never seemed to have the identity of the offensive line or defensive backs.
Now that Lovie Smith is here with his 4-3, the defensive linemen are forming a new band. And you can tell they like being together.
John Harris asked Vincent Taylor about it on Texans radio and he said the camaraderie of this group is already noticeable. And if you're thinking that former OLBs Jacob Martin, Whitney Mercilus and Jonathan Greenard won't fit in, think again. All the big dudes that we talked to, who play inside, mentioned them and how well they're coming along.
Wednesday's initial training camp practice showed that this is a group to watch. Brandon Dunn was his usual upbeat self during and after practice, Malik Collins was looking forward being in a system where he's more comfortable, somewhat similar to his days in Dallas. And Jacob Martin was excited about playing defensive end. "This is why I was drafted." He told us, referring to why he felt Seattle picked him after seeing him at Temple.
It's just day one and the pads have yet to come on. But you can see that this is a physical bunch that is looking to show out and dramatically improve the Texans run defense and pass rush. Stay tuned.