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Weaver regains form

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Defensive end Anthony Weaver has battled through two tough years with the Texans. Last offseason, he was forced to undergo arthroscopic surgery to his right knee and right shoulder and he struggled during the regular season to regain an explosive first step. The seven-year pro started 13 games and had a career-high 41 tackles, but finished the year without a sack.

In fact, Weaver has recorded only one sack since signing with the team in 2006 and never has felt like the player he was in Baltimore, where he notched 14.5 sacks in four seasons. The Texans believe all that could change this year.

"I think it could actually pick up for him because he's healthy," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "He's going through the offseason and he's feeling as good as he's ever felt. You always have to rotate D-linemen. I think maybe we'll get a little more out of Anthony than last year just because we're getting a good offseason out of him."

{QUOTE}Weaver, who won the team's 2007 Ed Block Courage Award, had limited practice time last offseason before jumping back into a starting role. His tackle total was solid last season, but lingering shoulder pain forced him to sit out the season finale against Jacksonville.

"I don't think he'd tell you he's exactly 100 percent right now, but if you watch him he's getting better every day," Kubiak said. "He's been through the physical part, the weight lifting and all the things that you have to go through in the offseason to be a 100 percent player. And that's what he had been missing with his injuries."

What the Texans had been missing was a dominant pass rusher opposite defensive end Mario Williams. General manager Rick Smith even said the team would look to acquire a defensive end through free agency or the draft.

Smith ultimately decided not to address that position, leaving Weaver the opportunity to prove he still can be a pass-rush force.

"I come out here every day, whether it's in the weight room or out here on the practice field, to try to get back to where I need to be because I know expectations are high for me," Weaver said. "Expectations are high within myself. I feel like I need to get to a higher level, and I plan on doing that."

Weaver would like to get back to the nickel three-technique he used in Baltimore. The defensive end had great pass-rushing success moving inside on third-down situations.

Kubiak said Weaver will play inside some once the season begins, but during OTAs he wants the defensive end to focus on rushing from the outside.

"We'll continue to bounce him around, especially from a pass-rush mode of going inside," Kubiak said. "We'll wait and see how those things work out. Right now, I just really want to see how he works at the left end spot and get that down pat, and we'll move from there."

Weaver has welcomed working on the basics, even if he is the Texans' oldest starting defensive lineman. At age 27, Weaver most likely will line up with Williams (23) and defensive tackles Amobi Okoye (20) and Travis Johnson (26).

Weaver is trying to use his experience to his advantage by becoming a vocal leader on the line.

"I feel like I'm still the young guy out there and then I see these guys running around me," Weaver said. "I'm like, 'Geez.' I talk about LT, and they think I'm talking about LaDanian Tomlinson. I'm talking about Lawrence Taylor. So it's different, but it's a role that I relish and I just hope they can come out here and follow my lead."

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