Skip to main content

Position battles: Defensive tackle

Back to our breakdown of the Texans' toughest position battles as the team heads into minicamps. Let's take a look at defensive tackle.

The Texans have invested a great deal of money at this spot, drafting Travis Johnson (2005) and Amobi Okoye (2007) in the first round. And it's paid off, as Okoye set a rookie record in sacks with 5.5.

Johnson and Okoye were dominant on the front line last year and both will start next season. The question is: who will be the third defensive tackle behind them who can come in as a run-stopper?

Jeff Zgonina was that guy in 2007. The 6-2, 290-pound Zgonina is built like a wall. His legs could be the stoutest in the NFL, but the defensive tackle isn't a spring chicken. He's entering his 16th year in the league.

In fact, Zgonina's been playing so long, he told me when he first started in the league teams would smoke cigarettes on plane trips home from a game.

Now, the massive vet will be battling in the trenches with the team's new big man in town, Frank Okam, who the Texans drafted in the fifth round. At 6-4, 322-pounds, Okam brings an even bigger presence than Zgonina.

In Okam's last season at Texas, he recorded a career-high 52 tackles and five sacks. The former Longhorn may be a rookie, but he'll have defensive line coaches Frank Bush and Jethro Franklin screaming in his ear and immediately making him a better player.

Okam may not be ready for Cowboys' Marion Barber in the preseason, but it won't be long before the defensive tackle steps in there with Super Mario.

  • Brooke Bentley
This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.