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Houston Texans

Secondary comes together quickly


DeMeco Ryans celebrates after tackling Saints running back Reggie Bush.

It truly took a scorecard to identify the Texans' secondary prior to Sunday's victory over the Saints. When it was all over, the score looked pretty good. They're expecting similar performances this week against the Browns.

The loss of star cornerback Dunta Robinson for the season with a knee injury sent defensive coaches into a frenzy of rotating players to account for the loss of one of the top players on the team.

Von Hutchins moved from safety to cornerback and Will Demps stepped in to start his first NFL game at safety. The rest of the defensive backs chipped in and helped the Texans even their record at 5-5.

So what did this unlikely crew do?

They helped stop one of the hottest offenses in the league, and the Texans won their second consecutive game, 23-10. The Saints didn't score a point in the second half and their 10-point total matched their lowest output of the season.

The Texans' next assignment will be Sunday against the lanky receiving corps of the Cleveland Browns.

"We'll go play them the same way," safety C.C. Brown said. "They have some jump-ball guys and playmakers. We're just going to play hard and hit them in the mouth."

The defensive backs are keeping an eye on running back Jamal Lewis, too.

"To me, the running back sets the tone for them," Brown said. "He's a downhill player who will hit you in the mouth. The biggest thing for us is to match his intensity and to come out and smack him around if we can."

The Browns are thinking about a playoff berth with a 6-4 start, especially after last week's overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Browns quarterback Derek Anderson has thrown 20 touchdown passes through 10 games.

Plus, the Browns receivers will challenge the Texans' leaping ability.

"They're in the Jacksonville mode, they are big guys," Hutchins said. "You just have to adjust your technique and play good technique defense. That takes care of itself."

Tight end Kellen Winslow, 6-4, 250, leads the Browns in receiving with 52 catches for 767 yards and four touchdowns. Braylon Edwards has been the big scorer with 10 touchdown catches and Joe Jurevicius has three scores.

"Braylon, he's a great receiver, one of the top in the league," Hutchins said. "You have to keep your eye on him, but Jurevicius, you can't sleep on him. He's an experienced guy who's been around the league for a while. He's made great catches in crucial situations. They have a good corps or receivers."

{QUOTE}Linebacker DeMeco Ryans feels comfortable with the new defensive backs alignment.

"We played great collectively and we played great in the back end," Ryans said. "That's huge. I expect our guys to continue that as they continue to play together. There are a lot of guys in different positions, but we went out there and we played fast and aggressive.

"When we're hitting those guys and making turnovers and intimidating guys, it makes the game easier for us."

Brown set the early tone last Sunday by recovering a fumble by Reggie Bush near the goal line.

"It felt good just to get the win, to have it be a team effort," Brown said. "Nobody could say it was one guy who won the game. It was team effort, offense, defense and special teams. It was good to come out and put back-to-back wins together."

Hutchins didn't take long to get acquainted with playing corner. He had nine tackles, an interception and a defended a pass.

"I felt comfortable," Hutchins said. "Football is football. It never changes. It might take a few plays to get adjusted, but it's still football."

Ryans anticipates another big game for the defensive backs against the Browns.

"I don't see any mismatches," Ryans said. "Our secondary played well this last game. We don't have any mismatches. It's a matter of us going out and executing our technique and our high level of play. We can match up against anyone."

Coach Gary Kubiak congratulated his defensive coaches for solving a problem.

"You know it's funny, when you have problems in this league, sometimes guys kind of bond together and find another level of play," Kubiak said.

"I think the coaches, (defensive coordinator) Richard (Smith) and the staff, deserve a lot of credit for the way they settled them down. They said, 'Hey, here's how we're going to fix our problems in the secondary and here's how we're going to play,' and they gained a lot of confidence in what we were doing."

Although his playing time has been reduced, cornerback DeMarcus Faggins thinks the coaches have found a good solution.

"I believe it gave the coaches a little confidence in everyone that was playing," Faggins said of the win over New Orleans. "We were out there playing aggressive and what we were coached during the week. I believe the coaches liked what they saw. We've got to continue to make plays and get after them."

Rookie cornerback Fred Bennett started his second game as a pro. He looked like a veteran and made one of the big plays of the game in the fourth quarter when he broke up a fourth-down pass that killed one of the Saints' final scoring attempts.

"I'm real comfortable, I was comfortable with the first start," Bennett said. "My confidence right now is extremely high. I'm just playing confident. I'm just doing what my coaches are asking and that is that."

Ryans has the mindset for Sunday.

"We can't let them dictate," he said. "We have to come out and show them what we're all about."

EDITOR'S NOTE: *Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky. Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro sports. *

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