Fan Mailbag: Your questions answered

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Owen Daniels made the Pro Bowl last season, but how many tight ends will the Texans keep behind him in 2009?

Each week, HoustonTexans.com reporter Nick Scurfield will answer your questions about the Texans in his new Fan Mailbag feature. [Click here](mailto:nscurfield@houstontexans.com?subject=Mailbag question) to send in a question or comment, and check back next Tuesday for another installment of the mailbag.

D Frank (El Campo, Texas): Hey Nick, a lot of interviews from our players latly been talking about Ray Wright's workouts they all mention more running, any details on the running drills?

Nick Scurfield: I had a nice discussion with Wright about this recently. Wright brought a lot of new wrinkles to the strength and conditioning program this year, and one of them was expanding the running program from two days a week to three days a week (Tuesday-Thursday during the offseason workouts).

Wright also split the players into teams and had them race against each other, giving less running to the winners and more running to the losers. That competition, he said, broke up the monotony of the runs, especially when he let the players pick their own teams. Wright also changed several of the pre-existing runs and added sled and sand runs to the program.

For a more extensive look at this topic, click here.

raginbull (San Antonio): Nick i have a question, or actually a two part question. 1.when is the deadline for Dunta to sign his tender? 2. Do the texans have leverage to lower the amount tendered after a certain date? I am not all that familiar with the way the franchise tag works.

Nick Scurfield: 1. Yes. If Dunta Robinson doesn't sign his franchise tender by the Tuesday following Week 10 of the regular season at 3 p.m. CT, he will be prohibited from playing in the NFL for the remainder of the season. If Robinson doesn't play in the NFL for an entire league year, the Texans will have the right to apply the franchise tag or transition tag (average of the top-10 CB salaries from the previous year) in 2010.

  1. No, the Texans' only option would be to completely pull the tender prior to Dunta signing it. The franchise tag has a fixed value (the average of the top-five CB salaries from last season), and that value does not change until 2010. The club can pull the tender at any point as long as it remains unsigned. If that were to happen, Dunta would become an unrestricted free agent. Also, if the season begins and Dunta still hasn't signed his tender, he will not be eligible to receive his weekly game checks as he would not be under contract.

raginbull (San Antonio): Hey Nick being it's my birthday for my present I'd like to see DeMeco Ryans get that contract extension!

Nick Scurfield:I'm going to generally try to limit responses to one per fan per mailbag, but I couldn't ignore somebody on their birthday. raginbull- I think most Texans fans would share your sentiment. DeMeco's agent and the team were working on an extension earlier this offseason and couldn't come to terms. But Ryans hired a new agent, Ben Dogra (who also represents Mario Williams) and decided to report to workouts after a brief absence because he wanted to be with his teammates. He's a leader on this team, and his presence during OTAs was especially helpful to rookie Brian Cushing.

Ryans has another year left on his contract, so there's still time for a deal to get done.

whiskeyrbl (Texas City): Hello Nick. Wandering if you had any insight as to how Mark Parson looked at OTA's and if the coaches had anything positive to say about his play? I'll hang up and listen to your reply.(lol)

Nick Scurfield:I didn't get to watch Parson much during OTAs and mini-camp, but the people I've talked to who did see him told me that he looked like a pretty physical corner for his size (5-10, 192). He has solid speed – not quite Brice McCain speed, but more in the 4.5 range – and seemed to demonstrate a good understanding of zone schemes.

Parson was a three-year starter at Ohio and shut down Ohio State receiver Brian Robiskie (a 2009 second-round draft pick) during the 2008 college football season. He's a guy who would be practice squad eligible if he doesn't make the team. I'll keep an eye out for him once training camp begins.

Will (Houston): Nick, thanks for doing this mailbag feature. I think it's a great idea! My question: Do you think the Texans will keep four tight ends this season? Casey, Hill, JD and Owen? I'd think it's pretty atypical for an NFL team to carry 4 TEs.

Nick Scurfield:Very good question as we approach training camp, thanks. I think we will keep four, and here are some reasons why:

  • The tight end is heavily utilized – always has been – in Gary Kubiak's offenses (think back to Denver with Shannon Sharpe). So even if it's atypical, it wouldn't be unthinkable for this team.
  • Each of the four you mentioned brings something different to the table. Owen Daniels has become one of the premier pass-catching tight ends in the league and has improved as a blocker. Joel Dreessen is one of the Texans' best special teams guys and is comfortable in the offensive system. Anthony Hill is a run-blocking specialist (but can also catch) and James Casey can do a little bit of everything (but is raw as a blocker) and is expected to be a special teams ace from the start.
  • Texans coaches have hinted that they want to use more two-tight end sets in running the ball, which could especially help the team in the red zone. Having four tight ends would give them ample depth with which to do that.
  • The Texans have a tradition of hanging on to their draft picks. Through three drafts, every player picked by Kubiak in the fifth round or higher has spent at least one season with the Texans.
  • The coaches gave Dreessen and Casey a look at long snapper during OTAs. If either can grab hold of that role, it would save the Texans a roster spot. Kubiak put Clark Harris at tight end more during OTAs because he said that the team would prefer to have a player who can play both positions instead of carrying a long snapping specialist on the roster (a la Bryan Pittman in years past).

Thanks for all of the questions, and I look forward to doing it again next week.

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