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Your Texans: Safeties


The Texans were hit hard early this year by injuries at the safety positions when Glenn Earl and Jason Simmons went out for the season.

Since then,three safeties – one who has been with the team for a while, one who arrived at midseason last year and one who just joined them at the start of this season – have helped take up the slack.

The player most familiar to Texans fans is C.C. Brown, who is in his third season with the team and has started 33 of the 37 games in which he has played.

A sixth-round pick by Houston in 2005, Brown started 15 games last year and finished fourth on the team with 65 total tackles and one interception.

The starting strong safety says he tries to emulate Eagles safety Brian Dawkins and the Patriots' Rodney Harrison.

"I like the way those two play the game," Brown said. "Once I step off the field, I'm the nicest person around. But once I step on it, it's a kill mentality – everybody's got to go. I like to use my physical (nature)."

Brown says it helps to play one of the best receivers in the game, Andre Johnson, in practice, even though Johnson has been sidelined recently. Brown enjoys playing against the game's best receivers.

"Andre Johnson is a guy with that size and that speed and quickness that are crazy," Brown said, going over the game's top receivers. "The second guy is (the Colts') Marvin Harrison. You look at him and say this is a short guy with short legs, so he can't move that fast. But once he gets going, he just gets to flying around the field and he runs the best routes.

"Then there's (the Patriots') Randy Moss. That's a freak of nature. What more can you say? Over the years, people say he has lost a step. But then you see him in the game against the Jets when he outran three defenders. He banked it all along."

{QUOTE}The player who has been here since the middle of last year is Von Hutchins, who now starts at free safety. He says the offseason has helped him grow comfortable with the Texans' schemes and teammates.

"I came in here last year at midseason and got a chance to get to know the guys, get to know the defense and the coaches a little," Hutchins said. "But just having a chance to get to know the guys during the whole summer, the OTAs, the mini-camp and all that, has helped."

Hutchins says he learned a lot from Colts coach Tony Dungy.

"Dungy brought me in and taught me the Cover 2 scheme," Hutchins said. "Learning from Dungy and that organization was a great thing. As a player, you get an opportunity to learn how to play fast and learn good practice habits and just learn things about football.

"Then coming here and bringing that work ethic and those practice habits here, I've been able to learn from the guys here and teach them some of my practice habits and just that winning attitude I got from Dungy."

Hutchins knows injuries have been tough on the Texans' secondary.

"We miss Glenn and we miss Jason Simmons," he said. "But the guys here have got to be able to step up and make plays ourselves.

"I think we've been able to communicate a little bit more and do that. Myself, C.C., (Will) Demps, (Michael) Boulware, we are all learning the system. Everybody's communicating well and learning the calls and being able to convey it over to the corners and the linebackers."

The newcomer is Boulware, the former second-round pick by the Seattle Seahawks in 2004 who came over in a trade for Jason Babin on Sept. 1. The move has been a breath of fresh air for Boulware.

"I had a rough time up in Seattle," Boulware said. "I was glad to get a new opportunity to start fresh. Everything is a whole lot better down here, so I'm definitely happy to be here."

Boulware fell out of favor with the Seahawks, and after starting for most of his first two seasons, was likely headed for the bench this year before the trade.

"I started out last year as a starter and made a few bad plays and then I got down on myself, first of all," Boulware said. "Then I didn't let those plays go and I couldn't ever bounce back. So I ended up losing my job to somebody.

"I got it back for the playoffs, but it was just a rough year all around. They kind of lost confidence in me up there and so it was just a bad situation for me. I could never shake that season."

That's why Texas sounded so good to him.

"I needed a fresh start and a new environment, so I'm definitely happy to be here," he said. "It's been awesome. I want to give this team everything I've got. I'm trying to give them as much time after practice so I can learn the defense as fast as I can."

It's a slow process, but Boulware appears to be getting there.

"The biggest thing I'm trying to learn are the little things," he said. "The NFL is about doing the little things right. I can understand concepts, but you have to learn the little things.

"Playing a zone or man, it's the same everywhere. But there are little nuances that the Texans do that are a little bit different than Seattle did. So getting perfect on those things is what I'm honing in on right now."

Boulware thinks he is with a team that is headed to the top.

"I think this is an underestimated team," he said. "I'm excited about it. I was talking to my dad about it and we agreed it's kind of like the old Baltimore Ravens.

"They were weak early and had some draft picks and started getting better and out of nowhere went out and won a Super Bowl. I kind of think that's the way this team is headed. I think that's the type of team that we have.

"It's growing and we're starting to jell with some good wins. If we keep this thing going, I think we're going to surprise a lot of people."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Carley is a veteran Houston sportswriter who has covered the NFL for more than 25 years. He has worked for such newspapers as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Houston Post, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and the National Sports Daily covering such teams as the Dallas Cowboys, the Houston Oilers, the Los Angeles Rams and the Oakland Raiders.

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