Texans sign Winston to extension

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Tackle Eric Winston is a big reason why the Texans' offensive line has made so much improvement the past two seasons.

The Texans extended the contract of tackle Eric Winston, the team announced Saturday.

Winston (6-7, 309) is beginning his third NFL season after being selected with the 66th overall pick in the third round of the 2006 NFL Draft. The former University of Miami standout has started the last 23 consecutive games at right tackle for the Texans.

"We are pleased that we were able to agree to terms and sign Eric to this extension," general manager Rick Smith said. "This is consistent with our philosophy of building our football team through the draft and rewarding and retaining our good, young players."

According to Stats, Inc., Winston has surrendered only six sacks in his 23 starts, an average of 0.26 sacks allowed per start, or one every four games. Winston's sack percentage ranks first among members of the 2006 draft class with at least 10 starts.

Winston was a part of the Texans' offensive line in 2007 that allowed just 22 sacks on 529 pass attempts, or 4.0 percent of the time. That sack rate was tied for seventh-lowest in the league. The Texans' line has reduced its number of sacks allowed in each of the past two seasons. Houston's 21-sack decrease from 2006 to 2007 was the third-best improvement for any line in the NFL last year.

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