The Texans linebacker room, like many on this roster, continues to undergo some fine tuning. What's a little bit different from other makeovers in this building, though, is that the 60% remaining from last year's roster was on the gameday roster for much of last year. The tweaks and additions will fill in some of the gaps from 2022, though. As such, here's what this linebacker unit looks like heading into 2023 training camp.
2023 Texans Training Camp roster (in numerical order)
#6 Denzel Perryman (9th NFL season) - 2023 FA signing
2022 stats (LV) - 12 games - 83 tackles, 14 TFL, 1.0 sack and two INT
Perryman made the Pro Bowl in 2021 as a member of the Raiders and he appeared to be on his way to another one in 2022. However, injuries shut down that last portion of the 2022 season, one in which he had 14 tackles for a loss. He wasn't completely cleared to do much this offseason in a team capacity, but he should be ready to roll on day one of training camp. He's a brick house hitter/tackler and can fly to the football; his speed, nine years into his career, is still a major asset.
#32 Garret Wallow (3rd NFL season) - 2021 5th round
2022 stats - 13 games - 13 tackles, 1.0 TFL and one pass defensed
Early in 2022's Training Camp, Wallow was the most impressive linebacker on the field. For the first three or four days, he made wow plays against the run and the pass. But, then he injured his ankle and that slowed his momentum greatly. He missed the on-field offseason work rehabbing an injury but when healthy, he's shown he can be a fast flow tackling machine with excellent coverage instincts.
#35 Jake Hansen (2nd NFL season) - signed as UDFA in 2022
2022 stats - 11 games - 25 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, one FF, one FR
Wallow's injury opened the way for Hansen in 2022 to step into the void and become a significant player on this defense, especially in the second half of the season. He made, arguably, the most significant defensive play of the year when he stripped Derrick Henry of the football in the fourth quarter in the Texans win in Nashville last year. During OTA/minicamp this year, he was hard to miss as he was all over the field. If he can stay healthy, as he was last year, he's going to find a way to make an impact for this 2023 Texans defense.
#39 Henry To'oTo'o (Rookie) - 2023 4th round
2022 stats (at Alabama) - 13 games - 94 tackles, 8.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, one QB hurry
Two training camps ago, chopping it up with a few of our scouts, one noted how To'o To'o had already taken over as the leader of the Alabama defense…before he had ever played one game at Alabama! He remained the leader of that defense for the last two seasons. His football IQ and football character were on full display during OTA/minicamp. Consequently, even though he was a fourth round selection, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if he finds himself on the field for significant playing time for this defense in 2023.
#42 Cory Littleton (8th NFL season) - 2023 FA signing
2022 stats (CAR) - 15 games - 47 tackles, 1.0 TFL, 0.5 sacks, two passes defensed
Speedy and productive in his seven previous seasons, Littleton was added to the Texans linebacker corps this offseason. He looks like a safety from afar, but he's an excellent chess piece to have in this defense given his speed and football IQ. His leadership and experience will be a huge boost to the many young guns in this linebacker room.
#48 Christian Harris (2nd NFL season) - 2022 3rd round
2022 stats - 12 games - 74 tackles, 1.0 sack, 6.0 TFL, three QB hits, one INT, one FF
Perhaps no player was talked about more this offseason than Harris. With former Alabama star linebacker DeMeco Ryans coming in to mentor former Alabama linebacker Harris, the anticipation of what the second year linebacker COULD be was discussed often, to say the least. It was clear he was a rookie last year as he was just trying to figure out the game at this level each Sunday, but now with experience, Ryans mentorship/teaching and a more stout DL in front of him, Harris could be a major factor in this team's resurgence over the next few years.
#49 Ian Swenson (Rookie) - signed as an UDFA in 2023
2022 stats (at U Conn) - 13 games - 89 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 4.0 TFL, one FF
Swenson wasn't one of the original UDFAs that the team signed immediately after the 2023 NFL Draft. He came to Houston for a tryout during rookie minicamp, the most difficult way to make a team, seemingly. But, he impressed the coaching staff over that weekend and signed to the 90-man roster. He can absolutely fly and that was evident in his time at U Conn. Special teams will be his initial ticket and he'll be someone I watch for that reason closely in each of these three preseason games.
#53 Blake Cashman (5th NFL season) - 2022 FA signing
2022 stats - 16 games - 26 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 4.0 TFL, five QB hits
Cashman has always been an intriguing player in my opinion. He's got GREAT speed and once started for the Jets as a rookie before injuries slowed him in New York. He arrived in Houston last year and became a multi-dimensional weapon for the Texans special teams/defensive unit. He carved out a sub-package pass rush niche throughout the season, culminating in a massive sack of Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes in December. As long as he's healthy, he can fit a number of different roles on this squad.
View photos of the Houston Texans linebackers heading into 2023 Training Camp.
#57 Neville Hewitt (9th NFL season) - 2021 FA signing, 2023 FA signing
2022 stats - 14 games - 14 tackles, 1.0 TFL, one FF
Hewitt re-signed with the Texans in May after his contract ran out after the 2022 season. He's a rock hard hitter and a special teams demon. His ability to play the run always stood out but he was more of a contributor on special teams in 2022. There will be a ton of competition at this spot, as long as all are healthy, but Hewitt will have plenty of opportunity in seven different competitions against opponents this preseason to show what he still has in the tank.
#58 Christian Kirksey (10th NFL season) - 2021 FA signing
2022 stats - 17 games - 124 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 7.0 TFL, two INT, one FR
It's amazing to think that Kirksey is one of the most tenured Texans on this roster having arrived in just 2021. But, he is and he's been the focal point of the defense since he arrived. His leadership and experience have been incredibly valuable for the many young players that have been here in Houston the past two seasons. He was third on the team in tackles last year with a whopping 124 and played AND started all 17 games in 2022.