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Texans sign RB Hall, CB O'Neal


Cornerback Deltha O'Neal adds much-needed depth in the secondary in the absence of Jacques Reeves and Dunta Robinson.

The Texans signed a pair of free agents, cornerback Deltha O'Neal and running back Andre Hall, the team announced today. Houston also released rookie defensive tackle Jake Visser and waived/injured rookie running back Jeremiah Johnson.

O'Neal, a nine-year veteran, started 10 games and had three interceptions for the New England Patriots last season. The Texans were in need of a veteran corner because Jacques Reeves is injured and Dunta Robinson isn't in camp.

O'Neal is familiar with a number of members of the Texans' coaching staff because he played with the Denver Broncos 2000-04. Texans coach Gary Kubiak was the Broncos' offensive coordinator during those years, and general manager Rick Smith was in charge of the Broncos' pro personnel department when Denver drafted O'Neal 15th overall in 2000.

Senior defensive assistant Ray Rhodes was O'Neal's defensive coordinator from 2001-02. Texans defensive coordinator Frank Bush (2000) and defensive backs coach David Gibbs (2002-04) coached O'Neal directly during stints as the Broncos' secondary coach.

"Deltha is familiar with our system," Kubiak said. "That was a comfortable sign for us as we try to get him out there to help us."

O'Neal has played in 132 games with 85 starts in his nine-year career and has 34 career interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns. He made the Pro Bowl after the 2005 and 2001 seasons.

{QUOTE}"He's a veteran and he's lined up and played in big games in this league," Smith said. "That's something that we were looking for, and he fits that bill."

Hall (5-10, 212) played in 18 games with one start for the Denver Broncos over the previous two seasons. He has rushed for 360 yards on 79 carries with two touchdowns in his career, along with five catches for 94 yards.

"He's a young man who had some success in this scheme running the ball," Kubiak said. "I know a lot of people that know him well, and he's also a guy who has some special team ability. We need another back out here because we're down a few guys, so the key with both of these guys is to kind of know what we're doing already."

Because of injuries to Clifton Dawson, Johnson and rookie Arian Foster, the Texans were down to three healthy running backs on the roster before signing Hall.

"Depth is really impotant because the minute you lose one (player) and then if someone tweaks a hamstring like Foster did, it hurts the amount of reps that a player gets throughout practice," running backs coach Chick Harris said. "Then you get wear and tear on the other players, and then that starts the injuries going. What we like to do is try to make sure that we have enough legs so that we can get through practice and no one is overworked."

Hall, who signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2007 as an undrafted free agent out of South Florida, was happy to have a new team after going through a tough workout and series of medical examinations with the Texans on Thurdsay.

"It was a tough day, but I'll do anything for a job right now," he said. "It's a lot harder sitting at home watching ESPN watching all your friends practice and do everything. It's tough."

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