Skip to main content

Sit down with Marc Vandermeer: Part 1


SportsRadio 610's Marc Vandermeer would like to see center Steve McKinney anchor the offensive line next season.

The voice of the Houston Texans, SportsRadio 610's Marc Vandermeer, sat down with Texans TV to discuss the team's needs in free agency and the NFL draft. Below is a transcription of part one of this two-part interview.

Brooke Bentley (Texans TV): Today the Texans released center Mike Flanagan, tight end Jeb Putzier and linebacker Shawn Barber, and they waived Drew Hodgdon. Any surprises here?

Marc Vandermeer: No real surprises. I think when you look at Jeb and Mike Flanagan, these were two guys who were brought in for their veteran leadership and good-play ability. But with Jeb, he got caught in a numbers game. Owen Daniels, drafted in the fourth round in Gary Kubiak's first year, shot up the charts, became a starter and caught five touchdown passes before he knew what was happening in his rookie season. And then you look at Flanagan. Well, (Steve) McKinney won the job coming into this year, but got hurt. Flanagan played well at the end, but they still have Chris White to think about maybe down the line. But McKinney's going to be back healthy. You still don't know exactly what's going to happen at center, but it appears that it's not going to include Mike Flanagan.

Brooke Bentley (Texans TV): It also came out today that (general manager) Rick Smith has scheduled a meeting with linebacker Zach Thomas after the NFL Combine. Thomas, a seven-time Pro Bowler, was released by the Dolphins. What will it take to get him here? And would he be a good fit here?

Marc Vandermeer: They Patriots already reportedly offered Thomas a deal, and if he wants a ring, a good chance to get one would be with New England. They have a way of taking veterans that seem to be done, like Junior Seau, and doing good things with them, so that might be a good possibility for him. But he's also reportedly going to meet with the Saints. As far as the Texans go, we got a lot of calls on the radio show, "What about DeMeco Ryans, the middle linebacker? What does this mean with Zach Thomas possibly coming here?"

Well, as Gary Kubiak said, you can never have too many good football players on your team. I think the addition of Zach Thomas would not hurt this team at all, even if you did move DeMeco outside. Can you imagine DeMeco and Zach Thomas – a healthy Zach Thomas in the same defense?

The other question about Zach is: what kind of long-term effect will these concussions have on him? How much time does he really have left in an NFL uniform? I don't know the answer to those questions, but it is certainly worth checking out. He is a Texan native, so you have to give it a shot.

{QUOTE}Brooke Bentley (Texans TV): He (Thomas) went to Texas Tech. The thing about DeMeco is that he played on the outside in college, so moving him outside wouldn't be unnatural for him. Also, many people have said he's too small to play on the outside. He's proved them wrong, but it could help him stay injury-free to move him back to the outside.

Marc Vandermeer: You never know. I'm sure he would produce greatly at outside linebacker, and they do need an outside linebacker. Danny Clark and Charlie Anderson, the two guys who played the other linebacker position other than DeMeco and Morlon Greenwood – they're both unrestricted free agents, so you have to find somebody to play out there if you don't resign those two guys. So, hey, wouldn't DeMeco be a great guy and Zach Thomas does play the middle. Maybe you can play Zach outside. I think Thomas would be the middle linebacker if you did sign him. As far as DeMeco goes, you feel as if you could play him at almost any position on the field and he would do well. He's such a solid football player. He would excel at any of the linebacker positions, certainly.

Brooke Bentley (Texans TV): Let's go back to center. We released Flanagan, but then there a lot of unknowns there. Steve McKinney and Chris White both had season-ending injuries. Where do you think the Texans will find a center? In the draft or free agency?

Marc Vandermeer: I think it's interesting with free agency. First, you want to see what guys look like at the Combine and who you might be able to pick up in the later rounds – four, five, six, seven. Then, you want to see who is available in free agency, who might be able to play in this (assistant coach) Alex Gibbs system. You know, it's going to be very interesting to see what kind of influence Gibbs has on the team. You know it's going to be a lot. Flanagan wasn't going to be a part of that, unless they signed him to a lesser deal. I really think that Steve McKinney can play in that system with his size and athleticism, but he's not getting any younger, Brooke. I'm not going to say he's an old man, but he's been in the league a decade and that's a long time for an o-lineman.

Brooke Bentley (Texans TV): How do you think he (Steve McKinney) will come back from a torn ACL?

Marc Vandermeer: That's a great question. He's a dedicated worker, and I think he still wants to play NFL football. He's so set up in the community so well. He's such an integral part of the Houston community. I know he's going to do great in retirement, but Steve McKinney back in a Texans' uniform, I like the sound of that.

Brooke Bentley (Texans TV): Going into the draft, what position groups should the Texans go after first?

Marc Vandermeer: It's interesting because you look at the secondary and you look at your unrestricted free agents – I mean I could go down the list here. When you look at restricted and unrestricted free, almost the entire defensive backfield is free. Of course, you have Dunta (Robsinon) coming back, but he's going to be unavailable for most of next season. And then you look at Fred Bennett, sure he's the starter at one corner. But you look and Von Hutchins is an unrestricted free agent. You look and Glenn Earl is an unrestricted free agent. So is Jason Simmons, who was injured last year, but you know he can play. There are a lot of guys who are totally free, so they really need to check out all their possibilities in the defensive backfield – corner, safety, free safety. Now, C.C. Brown, restricted, should be back. They like the way he plays. He's physical, but you still need a lot of bodies. Look at what happened last year. What they ended up with was certainly not what they started with in that backfield four, so they're going to look at a lot of guys there.

Then, I still think about left tackle because Charles Spencer – who knows how he is going to come back. I know Ephraim Salaam, he's a very good actor by the way in that Super Bowl commercial, plays well but he was never intended to be the starter here and he's done a fine job. But they are still looking to upgrade if at all possible at that position. They signed Jordan Black in the offseason last year and that hasn't worked out. He was inactive for most of the season, so you need to find somebody at tackle, somebody in the secondary. We talked about outside linebacker. And running back – how could we leave that out? A lot of people say, "Don't you have to take a running back in the first round when the 18th pick arrives?" I say, "Do you really need to? You have other needs." You know that with this Alex Gibbs type of attack you are talking about, which Gary ran in Denver, you can pick up backs in later rounds and still do well. But there is going to be a name at 18 that's going to make you say, "Wow, we've got to get him." Like a Jonathan Stewart or maybe even a Rashard Mendenhall – I don't think he drops that much. But there are so many possibilities; still, they'll be looking at running back at some point in this draft.

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.

Related Content