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Duane Brown staking claim as best left tackle in football


Texans left tackle Duane Brown has allowed one sack in his last 29 games.

He has been called for one holding penalty in his entire career. That was in his rookie season in 2008.

He has become a dominant force in the running game, using rare athleticism for a man his size (6-4, 320) to spring gaping holes for running back Arian Foster and company.

"I think he's the best left tackle in football, and that's how he's been playing," Foster, who's in the midst of his third consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season, said on Thursday. "You just watch his game film, you watch how he dominates his side of the football every week, week in and week out, that's Duane. We've come to expect that high level of play from him."

Brown was a one-man highlight reel in the Texans' Week 12 victory at Detroit on Thanksgiving Day. The website Pro Football Focus (PFF), which evaluates players based on game tape analysis, called it the best game by any offensive tackle all season. According to PFF, Brown allowed just one hurry on Matt Schaub's 51 pass attempts.

Brown has been playing so well that earlier this week, PFF ranked him sixth overall for NFL Offensive Player of the Year honors. Wrote PFF: "Our top ranked left tackle is coming off one of the best performances we've ever seen from a tackle, looking impenetrable in protection and having the kind of agility you just don't associate with linemen. A special player."

Brown's teammates certainly agree. Center Chris Myers, a 2011 Pro Bowler and Texans team captain, said the way Brown has been playing this season is "unreal."

"Personally, I think at an All-Pro level," Myers said. "He's just locking guys down. Over the past few seasons, he's locked it down. I think he's only given up one sack… He's just dominating. It's pretty fun to watch. Obviously, I don't get to watch during the game, but when you sit back and watch the film the next day, it's pretty unbelievable."

Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Friday that what makes Brown so good is his consistency. Kubiak called Brown "an elite athlete" who has "become a great pro," improving his study habits and becoming a student of the game in his fifth season out of Virginia Tech.

A tight end in high school and his freshman year of college, Brown's combination of agility, quick feet and power make him a weapon in the Texans' zone running game.

"He's great on the back side cutting people off when we run our crack tosses and those types of things," Kubiak said. "He can really get on the edge and run. When you've got a right-handed quarterback in this league, you better have a great left tackle, and we're fortunate enough to have one here and should have for a long time."

Brown was not named to the Pro Bowl last season despite earning second-team All-Pro honors. He said it would mean "a lot" to earn that recognition this year. The soft-spoken left tackle appreciates the praise from his teammates and coaches, but he said Thursday that he thinks he's just starting to really tap into his potential.

After all, Brown played only three seasons of offensive tackle – one at left tackle – in college before the Texans drafted him 26th overall in 2008.

"I think I have a long way to go as far as technique," Brown said. "The left tackle position, you can never have the best technique, so I'm really working on that. My preparation from week to week, I'm trying to better that as much as possible, so I definitely think there's another level out there for me to reach."

For opposing defenses who have watched Brown play this season, that's surely a scary thought.

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