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Down but not out?

We're about to find out aren't we?

It's funny what a 2-0 start did to the perception around here. Before the season started, I was telling everyone that I'd be happy with a 2-2 start as I expected (and still expect) the Texans to work their way to an 8-8 season.

Then Carolina happened and the Texans' love pendulum swung as far to the right as its been since September 9, 2002.

It's all about 'how you get there' and based on current thinking, a 2-2 record going into Week 5 is going to be a bit of a disappointment to a lot of people.

Russell Baxter of ESPN called this a "maturity game" for the Texans and I tend to agree. If the Texans can somehow pull this one out and come home 3-1 as shorthanded as they are, then the future is truly bright.

If the Texans lose, I may not listen to sports talk radio for a week because trollish voices will be coming out of the woodwork.

Many Texans fans are concerned about the injuries to Andre Johnson, Jacoby Jones, and Ahman Green, but I think the one that concerns me the most in the near term is the absence of Steve McKinney at center.

McKinney came into his own after moving back to center last year and he handles pressure up the middle much better than Mike Flanagan. It may not be an issue this week, but when guys like John Henderson and Albert Haynesworth come calling in a few weeks, Gary Kubiak may need to figure out a way to get Mike some help.

From the 'keeping your eye on your enemy' department:

Wednesday: Under the headline Schaub moves on with Texans
"… in Atlanta, the amount of regret that flows over the Schaub trade varies by neighborhood. Around certain parts of Marietta, for instance, there is real angst. 'I get that from some neighbors and co-workers — 'We wish Matt was still here' — but that's just a part of playing in this league. You never know where you'll end up,' Dale Schaub (Matt's father) said..."

"His natural inclination toward the Falcons will be put on hold Sunday when he and the family (Matt's mother and his sister, in from Pennsylvania) arrive at the Dome. They'll be entering quietly. 'I don't wear jerseys. Maybe a golf shirt with a Texan emblem on it. I like to keep it low-key,' Dale Schaub said. It's a family trait." **- Steve Hummer,

Under the heading *Gado could be asked for encore Sunday
"Regardless of who lines up at running back (for the Texans), the Falcons are focusing on their run defense. Atlanta allowed 175 yards on the ground last week against Carolina. 'The main thing is that no matter who has the ball, we have to stop the run,' linebacker Demorrio Williams said." -**Steve Wyche,

And just in case you were out of the country or under a rock the past few days:

Thursday: Under the heading Hall fined $100k, won't start against Texans
"(Falcons starting cornerback DeAngelo) Hall was not reluctant to voice his displeasure or reveal the penalty. 'It was $100,000,' Hall said. 'I might sit a quarter. I might sit two quarters. He (head coach Bobby Petrino) didn't tell me how long I am going to sit.'"

"Hall was not happy with the fine and plans to file a grievance with the NFL Players Association. 'My agent [Joel Segal] is working on it,' Hall said. '(Segal) and [NFLPA President] Gene Upshaw are working on it. Hopefully we can get something worked out, but I don't think it was fair.'

"With the Falcons leading 17-10 in the third quarter against Carolina, Hall's string of penalties cost the Falcons 67 yards and swung momentum to the Panthers." -- **D. Orlando Ledbetter,

All things considered, the Falcons have the look of a team that could self destruct if they get down early. After watching some of the DeAngelo Hall stuff on NFLN this week, reading media reports, considering the 0-3 start and the never-ending Vick fallout, it seems that Petrino could be spending as much time trying to hold the ship together as he is game planning for his next opponent.

But then again, you know what they say about a wounded animal.


  • Atlanta's offense is ranked 12th in the NFL in yards per game compared to the Texans' ranking of 16, however their points per game (10.0) is ranked 30th in the league.
  • Two of the Falcons' three losses (to the Jags and Panthers) were by a total of 13 points.
  • Former Texan Lewis Sanders starts opposite Hall at the #2 cornerback position for the Falcons.
  • Eric Winston and Ephraim Salaam draw tough assignments this week in Jamaal Anderson, who was the 8th pick overall in the 2007 NFL draft, two spots ahead of Amobi Okoye, and John Abraham who is tied for 5th in the NFL (with Okoye and others) in sacks. You can contact Alan Burge at:

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