HoustonTexans.com's Nick Scurfield interviewed FOXSports.com Senior NFL Writer Jay Glazer during Glazer's recent visit to Texans training camp.
In addition to serving as FOXSports.com's primary NFL writer, Glazer is a contributor to FOX NFL Sunday broadcasts during the NFL season.
In his interview with HoustonTexans.com, Glazer gives an assessment of the Texans from his perspective as a national NFL writer. Excerpts of the interview are below. Click here to listen to the interview in podcast form.
Nick Scurfield: "What are your impressions of the team? What stands out to you?"
Jay Glazer: "I think they're on the cusp, if they stay healthy. Obviously, the key is if (Matt) Schaub stays healthy, but from what I'm hearing, he's having a great camp and things are starting to click with him, and keeping Andre (Johnson) healthy. There's a lot of ifs there, but they certainly have talent to upgrade on the defensive side of the ball. I think (Brian) Cushing was a great pick, a great value pick right there."
Nick Scurfield: "The defense has struggled a lot in the past, but what do you think about all the talent that's out there now?"
Jay Glazer: "They've got talent out there. It used to be certain guys could pick it up. Obviously, Mario (Williams) was the correct selection. The sky's the limit for him. It's funny, as great as he plays, they still want him to be like the greatest of all time here, they're constantly pushing, they're constantly pushing, they're not satisfied with the Pro Bowl numbers that he's put up, which I find very interesting."
Nick Scurfield: "Coach Gary Kubiak said this offseason that he expects Mario to take the next step and compete for Defensive Player of the Year honors. Is he in that conversation this year?"
Jay Glazer: "Yeah. Yeah, he could be. He has the talent to be, he certainly has the size and the speed to be. That's what I'm saying, they don't just want him to be a Pro Bowler, they expect him to be Defensive Player of the Year, and that's some of the pressures that come along with being the number one overall pick. It's much different than if you're three or seven or 14 or whatever it is, you're always going to have much more pressure than anybody else."
Nick Scurfield: "You talked about Andre Johnson a second ago. Who would you take between he and Larry Fitzgerald (WR for the Arizona Cardinals)?"
Jay Glazer: "Right now? Talent wise, I don't know, but Larry stays healthier, if I have to look at it that way. But talent wise, it's hard to tell. I would have said, in the past, Andre, but after what Larry did last year, how do you not take Larry? But again, he had a better stage to show it and he stayed healthier. But talent wise, I don't know if Andre has anybody that rivals him in this league. He's a freak. You know what? I think actually it's Andre and that kid from Detroit, Calvin Johnson. He could be one of those guys. I remember talking to guys who played against him who said 'Once he understands what he's doing, we're all screwed back here in the secondary.'"
Nick Scurfield: "There's been a lot of talk in the media around here and it's been a big discussion in camp about the contract situations with a few of the big players on the team, namely Dunta Robinson because he's not here. What do you think about that whole situation?"
Jay Glazer: "It happens everywhere in the league. Great way to get out of camp. But nobody's going to give up money for the year. It's just a way to get out of camp, that's all it is."
Nick Scurfield: "DeMeco Ryans was quoted as saying early in camp that he thinks it sends a bad message to the team, that there are leaders on the team like he and Owen Daniels and Dunta who aren't getting long-term deals. Do you see it as that, or is that just part of the business?"
Jay Glazer: "Part of the business. It happens everywhere in the league. Players are always going to stand up for other players. It's very, very rare when a player is going to go, 'You know what, this guy needs to be in here and sign his franchise tender' or 'He should be here and forget this deal.' That sends a bad message, because your players have to be unified."
Nick Scurfield: "What do you think about the way the AFC South is going to shake up this year? There has been a lot of overhaul, a lot of things changing with the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts."
Jay Glazer: "Yeah, I think those teams will be weaker. No matter what, if you lose Tony Dungy (former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts) you're going to be weaker, that's all there is to it. You can talk about Marvin Harrison. They're obviously going to be strong because they have Peyton (Manning) there, but they've had a lot of overhaul, they've changed a lot and moved some things around. Maybe change is good, but I don't think a lot of things need to be changed over there. Tennessee, losing (Albert) Haynesworth is huge, huge; it's enormous."
Nick Scurfield: "Tennessee also lost their defensive coordinator."
Jay Glazer: "Absolutely. They've had an interesting offseason. Jacksonville, they've kind of stayed below the radar and whatnot. I'm interested to see how they do. Like I said, if there's a year for you guys to make a run, to make a move, shift forward, this is the year."
Nick Scurfield: "Are there any players from what you've observed or from talking to Rick Smith or any of the coaches that you think could surprise somebody this year?"
Jay Glazer: "I love the rookie (James) Casey, a lot of teams did. He was real high on a lot of teams' radars. Every year when I do my draft stuff, I always say 'Give me a sleeper, give me somebody you guys love, best guy you met in the draft.' A bunch of teams brought him up."
Nick Scurfield: "You mentioned Matt Schaub needing to stay healthy. What else do you think the Texans need to do to take that next step this year?"
Jay Glazer: "Their problem is just inconsistency. You have Schaub go down, then you have Andre go down. You have this, you have that. You have a good game offensively, then defensively they wouldn't hold their end of the bargain. They just need to everybody to get on the same page, and you've just got to find the consistency. Good teams are the consistent teams and they're not worrying week by week, 'Uh oh, who's going to show up?', you know? They've been together enough now, the nucleus is enough where this is the year to take that step."