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Rosenfels dissects offense


As quarterback Sage Rosenfels finishes his third year of OTAs with the Texans, he can't help but think about how far the team has come since his arrival in 2006.

Last season, the Texans finished with the best record in franchise history at 8-8. Rosenfels did his part, going 4-1 as a starter and throwing for a career-high 1,684 yards and 15 touchdowns.

"We are so far ahead of where we were two seasons ago," Rosenfels said. "It's pretty amazing. I can't say it's a completely different offense, but we do so much more. We are so much more efficient at it and we have a lot more players, too. We are tying to have a really good combination of run and pass, and coach (Alex) Gibbs is doing a great job with the run."

{QUOTE}The passing game last year wasn't a problem. The quarterback tandem of Rosenfels and Matt Schaub helped the Texans average 234.4 passing yards per game, which ranked 11th in the league.

The run game was a different story. The Texans' 99.1 yards rushing per game ranked 22nd in the NFL, and the team averaged 6.2 yards fewer than 2006.

Rosenfels thinks all that could change thanks to the zone blocking scheme Gibbs is installing and the newfound depth at the running back position.

"Depth is really important at all positions, but especially at running back in the NFL, depth is really important," Rosenfels said. "It's almost impossible for a running back to go 16 games without getting hurt. That's just the way the league is. It's a rough league. We've got good players, about four or five deep at that position."

At running back, the Texans will return Pro Bowler Ahman Green, second-year pro Darius Walker and a healthy Chris Taylor. Free agent acquisition Chris Brown and rookie Steve Slaton round out the group.

Rosenfels said the quarterbacks have been working with the pass rushers on making sure all play looks the same, no matter how the team lines up.

"A lot of formations that we run the ball out of we are going to do the exact same thing when we throw the ball," Rosenfels said. "It helps the quarterbacks a lot. I've been around where teams have a poor running game, and those teams usually struggle. When you have a good running game, you have success."

That success could multiply with the additions the coaches have made to the offensive playbook.

"We have a lot bigger (offensive) package," Rosenfels said. "I would say our package is about twice as big as it was two years ago. To have less mental mistakes with a much bigger package is a lot of hard work for the guys to do that."

Although the Texans' brass have made it clear that Schaub will be the starter next season, coaches have been impressed with the way Rosenfels stepped up when given his opportunities.

"He's been in this league for a long time and he really hasn't had many chances to play and got an excellent opportunity last year with our football team and showed the National Football League that he's a very capable player and starter," coach Gary Kubiak said. "That's why we brought him here. So I'm proud of what he's done. I know that there was some talk of him having a different opportunity this offseason, but as I've said before he's very important to this football team first and he's got to get ready to play for this team."

Rumors surfaced in the offseason that the Texans would trade Rosenfels, who could start for many teams in the league. However, Kubiak emphasized how important it was for the team to have such an outstanding backup, especially because Schaub had suffered several injuries last season.

"All you've got to do is look around this league and normally the backup quarterbacks are playing at some point in the season, so you better have a good one," Kubiak said. "And we've got a good one. And he just needs to have a good camp. He's had a good offseason. He needs to have a good training camp so we know he's ready to go in case something happens with Matt."

Kubiak said he knows how difficult it is for Rosenfels to stand on the sidelines and wait for his chance to play under center .The head coach did that for many years in Denver as quarterback John Elway's backup.

"Believe me, I understand how tough that is," Kubiak said. "And as I've told him, and I would say nothing different to you, 'You get opportunities because of what you're doing now.'

"And if he keeps doing what he's doing, there's no doubt in my mind his opportunity's coming somehow, someway, and you never know what's going to happen throughout your season or throughout his career, so if he just keeps his nose to the grindstone, keeps working the way he's working, Sage is going to play football for a long time and he'll get many opportunities."

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