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team rankings: Falcons climb to No. 2
Michael Harmon / FOXSports.com
Some of the most anonymous players in the NFL reside in the defensive backfield. The only time that many of these players are highlighted on the telestrator are when they've missed an assignment or tackle that led to a huge play.
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In edition of the FOXSports.com off-season tour, I'm rolling up my sleeves to put names to the accomplishments and update the off-season movement of players in the secondary. The list begins with a unit that fell on hard times in 2005, but returns all of its principals from past fantasy glory. We'll begin the review in Philadelphia.
1. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles return one of the best secondaries in the game, provided that they can stay on the field. Shoulder and ankle injuries took cornerbacks Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard out of the lineup, forcing safeties Michael Lewis and Brian Dawkins to become involved in virtually every play. The duo combined for 185 tackles last season.
The struggles of the offense following Donovan McNabb's injury (and a host of other injuries and the deactivation of T.O.), an inconsistent pass rush (29 sacks) and these injuries forced the Eagles down the defensive rankings. They finished 21st with 207.7 passing yards allowed per game, but allowed 1.5 touchdown passes per contest. I expect a return to form for this unit in 2006. The divisional games offer six tests, but the addition of Darren Howard opposite Jevon Kearse up front and the return of this Pro Bowl quartet leads me to believe that they'll pass with flying colors.
2. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons worked hard this off-season to upgrade its defense on all fronts. Atlanta made the deal to bring John Abraham to the defensive line. The pressure generated by the pass rush from him and Patrick Kerney will produce turnover opportunites for the Falcons this year. The lone remaining starters from 2005 are cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Jason Webster. The Falcons added depth behind them with the selection of Jimmy Williams in the first round of the draft. Both safeties from a year ago are gone, replaced by Lawyer Milloy and Chris Crocker. Milloy reached 100 tackles for the seventh time in his career last year for Buffalo and Crocker reached a new career mark with 79 of his own in Cleveland. The addition of these safeties will provide a net for young corners Hall and Webster (and Williams) and will allow them to make plays on the ball and gamble more frequently. Coach Jim Mora would love to improve on the 16 interceptions of 2005.
3. Chicago Bears
The Bears return virtually all parts of their top-ranked defense from 2005. The only subtractions from the rotation were veteran Jerry Azumah who retired, and safety Mike Green who was dealt to Seattle. Chicago ranked fifth in pass defense at 179.5 yards per game and tallied 24 interceptions on the strength of 41 sacks and a persistent pass rush. Playmaker Mike Brown returns to his strong safety position after an injury forced him to the sidelines for good in Week 13. Cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher became stars, combining to haul in 13 interceptions. Chicago didn't rest on its laurels of a big regular season after the embarrassing playoff loss to Carolina. The Bears drafted safety Danieal Manning in the second round to back up second-year player Chris Harris. They also signed former Carolina standout Ricky Manning Jr. to back up Tillman.
Barring injuries on the defensive front, Chicago is poised to rank among the league's best in many defensive categories once again. This secondary is already experienced, and many of the players are far from hitting their prime.
4. Indianapolis Colts
There's certainly some concern about the Indianapolis defense this season with the loss of Larry Tripplett from the line and linebacker David Thornton. Nick Harper and Jason David man the corners. Harper was effective last season, contributing 66 tackles, three interceptions and 15 passes defended. Of course, most remember him only for getting tackled by Ben Roethlisberger on the return of a Jerome Bettis fumble.
The Colts expect hard-hitting safeties Mike Doss and Bob Sanders to be ready to play come training camp. Their presence allows the Colts to keep 2005 first-round selection Marlin Jackson at cornerback. Jackson may push David for the starting cornerback slot opposite Harper.
Hard-nosted safety Troy Polamalu leads Pittsburgh's strong secondary. (Brian Bahr / Getty Images)
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers didn't generate large interception totals last season (15), but they certainly had a knack for timely big plays and shut down opponents' passing games (198 yards per game) with timely blitzes. Pittsburgh returns most of their Super Bowl-winning unit led by fan favorite and hard hitter Troy Polamalu (92 tackles). Budding star Ike Taylor (84 tackles) and Deshea Townsend (55 tackles) return to man the corners. The Steelers have built depth at the position with Bryant McFadden and Ricardo Colclough, who enter their second and third NFL seasons, respectively. Safety Chris Hope left for Tennessee this off-season and will be replaced by former Redskins standout Ryan Clark (57 tackles and three interceptions in 2005).
6. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens will certainly not be lacking for star power on the defensive side of the ball. They'll need to keep them healthy to get back to prominence on the field and the fantasy scoresheets. Baltimore ranked eightth in the NFL at 184.9 yards per game, but generated only 11 interceptions with playmakers Ed Reed and Ray Lewis on the shelf. His absence certainly impacted the style of play. Reed had intercepted nine passes himself in 2004. Veteran cornerbacks Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle form one of the best tandems in the game. Second-year player B.J. Ward appeared sparingly in 2005. He'll be expected to hold down the strong safety position with the departure of Chad Williams.
7. Denver Broncos
The Broncos effectively stuffed the run, but still had some holes in their pass defense in 2005. Denver ranked 29th at 227.7 yards per game and turned in an equal number of interceptions and touchdowns allowed (20). Champ Bailey remains one of the league's best cover corners. He recorded a career-high eight interceptions in 2005. The other cornerback position will be manned by second-year player Darrent Williams, who performed well despite a torn groin muscle. The safety position features one of the game's hardest hitters in John Lynch, who continues to shine entering his 14th NFL season. Nick Ferguson recorded a career-high 78 tackles with five interceptions last season at strong safety. The continued success of this unit will depend on the performance of "Cleveland West" on the defensive line.
8. New York Giants
The front of the Giants defense remained intact, but finishing 27th in the league at 224 yards per game and allowing 20 passing touchdowns forced the team to shuffle players in the secondary. A severe back injury forced the Giants to part ways with cornerback Will Peterson. Cornerback Will Allen left to join the Buccaneers. Fortunately, the Giants added Will Demps from the Ravens (50 tackles) to take his place. So, some law of conservation is being observed among Giants management.
Gibril Wilson shone at strong safety last season, doubling his tackle total from 2004 to 110. New York added veteran Sam Madison at left cornerback. He made 52 tackles and snagged two interceptions for the Dolphins a season ago. Madison will line up opposite second-year cornerback Corey Webster, who performed well last season for Tom Coughlin. He'll only benefit from the on-field experience of 2005.
The NFC East figures to be perhaps the most contested division in the game this season. Washington upgraded its receivers with Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El. Terrell Owens joined the Cowboys and Philly can only be better with McNabb back under center. With that said, the pressure afforded by the Giants line will force mistakes and make this unit effective.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay defense remains one of the most consistent in all of football, both on the field and in fantasy scoresheets. The Buccaneers ranked sixth in pass defense at 183.1 yards per game and allowed just 15 passing touchdowns against 17 interceptions. The unit returns virtually intact, with Dexter Jackson (Cincinnati) as the lone defection. Veteran corners Brian Kelly and Ronde Barber continue to produce at a high level. Jermaine Phillips continues at strong safety after recording a personal best 59 tackles in 2005. The secondary is completed with third-year player Will Allen. Allen intercepted three passes and contributed 39 tackles last year. There are rumors that former Buccaneers standout Dwight Smith is being shopped by New Orleans and that Tampa Bay is a possible suitor.
10. Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle defensive secondary returns virtually all members of their Super Bowl squad. Seattle allowed 222.4 yards per game and generated only one interception per contest, but the huge number of sacks came as a result of great coverage downfield. Only cornerback Andre Dyson and safety Marquand Manuel relocated this off-season. Manuel was allowed to leave because of the emergence of Michael Boulware as a bona fide star and the expected return of Ken Hamlin from injury. Marcus Trufant and Kelly Herndon played well on the corners to help create those league-leading 50 sacks. The Seahawks added depth at cornerback with the selection of Kelly Jenkins from Miami in the first round.
The defensive scheme that piled up such a dominant pass rush should produce similar returns in 2006. As such, the more experienced secondary will flourish.
11. Minnesota Vikings:
The Vikings would certainly like to put large chunks of the 2005 season behind them. Minnesota bid farewell to two longtime defensive fixtures this off-season as Corey Chavous and Brian Williams moved to new teams. The team generated a strong turnover total and collected 24 interceptions, but still ceded 23 touchdown passes. The Vikings added Tank Williams from Tennessee (78 tackles) to fill the strong safety position vacated by Chavous. Veteran Darren Sharper recorded nine interceptions in his ninth season in the league. A healthy defensive line and persistent pass rush will open opportunities for him once again. Antoine Winfield and Fred Smoot remain locked into the corner positions. Smoot will be happy to get back to action after an off-season filled with stories about the famous boat incident.
Minnesota possesses a strong secondary that will be aided by the effective pass rush generated by the youthful defensive line. The offenses in the NFC North have gotten better, but this unit will make the most of its opportunities.
12. Jacksonville Jaguars:
Jacksonville ranked seventh against the pass last year (184 yards per game) despite playing much of the year without veteran safety Donovin Darius. However, they did allow 22 passing touchdowns on the year.
The return of Darius coincides with the loss of Deke Cooper, who moved to the Dolphins. Deon Grant returns at free safety after contributing 66 sacks and three interceptions in 2005. The Jaguars added Brian Williams from the Vikings this off-season to pair him with rising star Rashean Mathis (64 tackles and five interceptions). Williams tallied 42 tackles and four interceptions in his final year in Minnesota.
13. Dallas Cowboys:
The Cowboys return all members of last season's 11th-ranked pass defense (192.7 yards per game). They also added a veteran presence from Houston for third-down situations in safety Marcus Coleman. Anthony Henry and Terence Newman return at cornerback. Henry and Newman combined for 108 tackles and six interceptions last season. Keith Davis and Willie Pile are expected to battle for the starting free safety job. Davis has the edge heading into camp. He made 50 tackles last season. Finally, strong safety Roy Williams remains a threat to all those receivers who wander off the middle. Receivers do not tread lightly with No. 31 in the defensive backfield. He tallied 77 tackles, three interceptions and three forced fumbles for the Cowboys last year.
Dallas hopes that the addition of Owens will spark the offense to greater heights and force dubious decision-making and more turnovers (15 interceptions in 2005). The upgrades at wide receiver for the Redskins, the return of McNabb and the growth of Eli Manning will keep them honest.
14. Carolina Panthers:
Carolina ranked ninth in the NFL last season in pass defense at 191.1 yards per game. They generated a great push up front, which accounts for a sizable interception total (23) against 15 touchdown passes. This is the one area of the Carolina defense that appears vulnerable entering training camp. The Panthers lost three members of the secondary from last season and currently have only three cornerbacks with NFL experience on the roster. Marlon McCree signed with San Diego and was replaced by Shaun Williams, Manning signed with the Bears and Idrees Bashir moved to Detroit. The Panthers do return three strong corners in Chris Gamble, Ken Lucas and Thomas Howard and a star in free safety Mike Minter, but they'll need to avoid injuries to remain among the game's elite.
Cornerback Ty Law may sign with New England, Kansas City or Arizona. (Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)
15. Washington Redskins
The Redskins played efficient defensive football last season, ranking among the league leaders at 10th in pass defense at 192.6 yards allowed per game. However, they generated only 35 sacks and 16 interceptions. Curiously, the team averaged only one per game. Rookie Carlos Rogers gained valuable experience in this scheme last season and contributed 43 tackles and two interceptions. He'll line up opposite master cornerback Shawn Springs, who makes all the plays that don't show up in box scores. Washington added heavy hitter Adam Archuleta from the Rams this off-season. He racked up 70 tackles and four sacks last season.
The big question mark for the unit entering the season is the status of free safety Sean Taylor. Though he avoided jail time for his off-field transgressions, Taylor still faces the possibility of a suspension. His absence would create a huge void in the secondary for Joe Gibbs. Veteran Pierson Prioleau or Curry Burns would assume the role if a suspension was handed down.
Like the Broncos running game, the Washington system works. However, I believe that they'll need Taylor for a full season to remain among the league's top units. The rank reflected here assumes that Taylor is free and clear to participate fully in team activities.
16. Cincinnati Bengals:
The pressure applied by the high-flying Cincinnati offense forced opponents into passing mode early. As such, the pass defense numbers are all inflated. The Bengals ranked 26th at 223.1 yards per game, surrendered 21 touchdowns and piled up 31 interceptions. Cornerbacks Tory James and Deltha O'Neal made the most of their opportunities by combining for 15 interceptions. Third-year player Madieu Williams returns from the shoulder problems that limited him severely in 2005. He contributed 91 tackles and three interceptions as a rookie in 2004. Fellow safety Kevin Kaesviharn achieved a career-high 87 tackles last season as well. Off-season acquisition from Tampa Bay will start at strong safety. Jackson contributed 45 tackles and one interception to the Buccaneers last year.
The Bengals figure to be among the league's top scoring offenses once Carson Palmer is ready to roll. That will lead to more shoot-outs against this defense. However, it also portends to big turnover totals once again.
17. New England Patriots:
The Patriots cobbled together a defensive secondary for much of the year, even counting heavily on receiver Troy Brown to line up at cornerback. It showed in the final stats, with New England ranked 31st against the pass at 231.4 yards per game with 25 touchdowns allowed against just 10 interceptions. Rodney Harrison returns to his safety position to anchor the unit. New England pressed rookie Ellis Hobbs into service early, and he responded with 42 tackles and three interceptions. He'll be paired with Asante Samuel, who enters the final year of his contract. New England added depth in the secondary with the acquisition of former Chiefs standout Eric Warfield and welcomed back safety Tebucky Jones after three years away from the team. There's also the possibility that New England will welcome back longtime star Ty Law, who tallied 10 interceptions for the Jets in 2005.
18. San Diego Chargers:
The Chargers' defensive stats are somewhat obscured by the big point totals generated by the offense and strength of the run defense. San Diego ranked 28th against the pass at 224.9 yards per game and forced only 10 interceptions while allowing 20 touchdowns. To that end, the Chargers added two new players to the secondary this off-season. First, San Diego selected Antonio Cromartie from Florida State in April's draft. He's tall and athletic and a potential star, but has been injury prone. Second, the Chargers added McCree from Carolina. The sixth-year player achieved a career-high 87 tackles for the Panthers last year with three interceptions. Quentin Jammer and Drayton Florence have grown into their roles at cornerback, but have yet to translate those skills in fantasy production. They combined for just two interceptions last season. Terrence Kiel completes the unit. He was limited to just 12 games in 2005.
The AFC West remains a difficult place to post huge numbers with Oakland, Kansas City and Denver expected to rank among the league's top scoring teams.
19. Miami Dolphins:
The Dolphins ranked 20th in pass defense last season at 206.7 yards per game and surrendered 23 touchdowns. Nick Saban changed out the personnel this off-season, bringing in Will Allen from the Giants and Deke Cooper from the Jaguars. Travis Daniels, whom Saban coached at LSU, played well as a rookie at left cornerback with 60 tackles. He'll only improve in his second season. Travares Tillman contributed 54 tackles and three interceptions in his first year with the Dolphins. The Dolphins selected athletic but injury prone cornerback/safety Jason Allen from Tennessee with their first pick in the 2006 draft. Allen sustained a dislocation of his hip in 2005, but is expected to contribute as a rookie.
20. Green Bay Packers:
The Packers made two large additions to their secondary this off-season with the signings of former Raiders star Charles Woodson and safety Marquand Manuel from the Seahawks. Both are savvy veterans who will most certainly help to improve a pass defense which allowed 22 touchdowns while generating only 10 interceptions. Woodson slides in for Ahmad Carroll, who performed inconsistently in two years at the left cornerback slot. Veteran Al Harris has issues with his contract, but all reports have him healthy and ready to report once mandatory sessions begin to work opposite Woodson. Though Woodson may not be at the same level he once was, the respect earned over the years might get more balls thrown toward Harris, giving him opportunities to make a big impact within fantasy leagues.
21. Buffalo Bills:
The Bills hired defensive-minded Dick Jauron as the new head coach, and it was no surprise that he made the improvement of the pass defense from 19th (205.7 yards per game and 19 TD) priority No. 1. The selection of safety Donte Whitner in the first round of the draft adds a player with great instincts and closing speed in the secondary. Buffalo later selected Whitner's Ohio State teammate Ashton Youboty to add depth at cornerback behind Terrence McGee and Nate Clements. Veteran safety Troy Vincent is recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum but is participating in all drills. The Bills added Matt Bowen from the Redskins to provide depth as rookies Whitner and Ko Simpson learn the system. One thing is for certain. Dick Jauron-coached teams will be able to defend.
22. Arizona Cardinals:
The Cardinals are believed to be one of the participants in the Ty Law sweepstakes. The former Patriots and Jets star is contemplating a return to New England, a trip to the Midwest and Kansas City or a stint in the desert. The Cardinals defense ranked 12th in the league at 193.6 yards per game and allowed 17 touchdowns against 15 interceptions. That production came even with first-round selection and starting cornerback Antrel Rolle on the shelf because of knee surgery. Rolle just underwent another procedure last month. He's expected to be ready for training camp, but if he's unable to go, Eric Green will work with the first team. David Macklin lines up opposite Rolle. He contributed 60 tackles last season. Strong safety Adrian Wilson serves as the anchor for this unit, piling up 108 tackles and recording eight sacks a season ago.
23. Cleveland Browns:
The Browns ranked fourth in the NFL against the pass at 179.2 yards per game, but couldn't stop the run in 2005. Additionally, the Browns generated only 15 interceptions on the season, as teams were generally in favorable passing situations. Romeo Crennel continues the implementation of the 3-4 defense with the acquisition of Willie McGinest. He'll be key to getting players in position and acting as a coach on the field.
The big loss in the secondary was safety Chris Crocker, who exited for Atlanta. The Browns will have a battle for the free safety role in camp between youngsters Brodney Pool and Sean Jones. Veteran Daylon McCutcheon played through ankle injuries in 2005 (78 tackles and two interceptions), but has yet to participate in off-season drills. Second-year player Antonio Perkins is getting reps and may push McCutcheon for playing time. The secondary rounds out with veterans Gary Baxter and Brian Russell. Their experience, and more pressure up front, will help to protect the younger members of the secondary.
24. New York Jets:
The Jets second-place ranking in pass defense is somewhat deceptive given their inability to stop the run. New York allowed 172.2 yards per game and just 17 touchdowns against 21 interceptions. Unfortunately, they are losing 10 of those interceptions with the departure of Ty Law.
New coach Eric Mangini will look to improve on last year's efforts with the acquisitions of veterans Andre Dyson and Ray Mickens. Dyson parlayed a strong run to the Super Bowl with Seattle into a deal in New York. Safeties Erik Coleman and Kerry Rhodes combined for 216 tackles which speaks volumes about the struggles up front last season. David Barrett contributed five interceptions at one corner. He'll line up opposite second-year player Justin Miller, who gained valuable experience last season.
Moving from Minnesota, new St. Louis safety Corey Chavous will help replace the departed Adam Archuleta. (Craig Jones / Getty Images)
25. Kansas City Chiefs:
The insertions of veterans Patrick Surtain and Sammy Knight into a struggling secondary couldn't help the Chiefs in 2005. Kansas City again ranked among the worst teams in the NFL against the pass, allowing more than 1.5 passing touchdowns and 229.9 yards per game. Greg Wesley tied a career best with six interceptions last season. He also added 82 tackles. Lenny Walls, an off-season acquisition from Denver, will occupy the cornerback position vacated by Eric Warfield. Walls appeared in only six games for the Broncos last year.
The offensive fireworks are expected to continue in the AFC West. Kansas City's proficiency on offense will lead to shoot-outs and makes this unit a risky play.
26. Detroit Lions:
The Lions ranked a strong 13th in pass defense at 194.9 yards per game despite the continuing inefficiency on offense. Detroit returns all starters from a year ago. Dre' Bly and Fernando Bryant man the corners. Bryant missed the final 14 games of last season. The Lions expect that second-year player Stanley Wilson will be able to provide support if Bryant suffers any setbacks. Safeties Terrence Holt and Kenoy Kennedy also return to their roles. The duo combined for 138 tackles and four interceptions last season. To offer depth at safety, the Lions selected Daniel Bullocks from Nebraska in the second round.
27. St. Louis Rams:
The Rams fell to 23rd in the league at 214 yards allowed per game and surrendered 26 touchdowns. The main area of concern for St. Louis was the inability to tackle demonstrated in the secondary. Therefore, both starters at safety a year ago, Archuleta and Mike Furrey, are gone and have been replaced by third-round draft pick O.J. Atogwe and off-season acquisition Chavous from Minnesota (71 tackles and two interceptions). Veteran Jerametrius Butler returns to his left cornerback slot after missing all of 2005. The Rams selected Tye Hill in the first round of this year's draft in the event that Butler experiences any setbacks. Rookie Ronald Bartell learned with a trial by fire last year, forced into the lineup at mid-season.
The additions of Chavous and a healthy Butler make this unit slightly better, but the inexperience at several positions will leave them exposed to big plays.
28. Oakland Raiders:
The lack of playmakers in the Raiders secondary and the imminent departure of longtime star Woodson prompted team management to select safety Michael Huff from Texas with their first pick. This big-hitting prospect will challenge for playing time immediately.
Oakland ranked 18th in passing yardage allowed at 202.7 but allowed 18 touchdowns against only five interceptions. The Raiders also added veterans Duane Starks and Tyrone Poole from the Patriots for depth. Neither player factored heavily in the scoresheets last year but will add a veteran presence and support for young starters Fabian Washington and Nnamdi Asomugha. Stuart Schweigert provided 75 tackles from the safety position in his second year and will team with Derrick Gibson, who returns from injury.
The additions of Huff, Starks and Poole will help, but the overall inexperience of this unit will make for some long days.
29. New Orleans Saints:
The Saints rank as one of those teams whose stats fail to tell the whole story. New Orleans ranked third against the pass at 178.1 yards per game, but that mainly occurred because of a suspect run defense. The Saints allowed 20 passing touchdowns, but only intercepted only 10 passes. To correct this issue, the Saints currently have a bevy of cornerbacks and safeties on the roster. Veterans Mike McKenzie and Fred Thomas remain entrenched in the starting cornerback slots. Jason Craft, Joey Thomas and Fred Booker will compete for time behind them. The free safety position may see a shakeup before training camp, with Dwight Smith rumored to be on the move. That would open up a competition in camp for the slot between off-season acquisitions Omar Stoutmire and Bryan Scott. Rookie Roman Harper also figures to be in the mix if Smith is indeed dealt.
30. San Francisco *****:
The ***** will look to improve on its bottom-ranked pass defense in 2006. San Francisco allowed a frightening 276.7 yards per game and 28 total touchdowns against 16 interceptions. The secondary received little help from a defensive line which generated only 28 sacks. Unfortunately, it doesn't look to have improved this off-season, with veteran Bryant Young as the lone viable pass rusher on the roster. Mike Adams played well at free safety last season, but he'll be challenged for the starting role by off-season acquisition Chad Williams, who joins the team from Baltimore. Shawntae Spencer has performed well at right cornerback, but former first-round selection Mike Rumph continues to underwhelm. The ***** expect veteran safety Tony Parrish to return from his broken leg in time for mini-camp.
I like the addition of Williams to the group. He was one of the bright spots in the injury-riddled season for the Ravens last season. Alas, Williams won't be enough to offset the lack of a pass rush and the continuing struggles of the offense.
31. Tennessee Titans:
The Titans were positively atrocious against the pass last season, surrendering 33 passing touchdowns and generating only nine interceptions. It was a year of learning for 2005 draft selections Reynaldo Hill and Adam "Pacman" Jones, who were pressed into action immediately. The only player of significance behind them on the depth chart entering training camp is Andre Woolfork.
The first order of business was to bring on veteran Chris Hope from the champion Steelers to start at strong safety with the loss of Williams. Hope racked up 97 tackles and three interceptions in Bill Cowher's defense. Hope will team with Lamont Thompson (81 tackles) to form the veteran presence in the secondary and help cover their youthful teammates.
32. Houston Texans:
Houston addressed needs on the defense by selecting defensive end Mario Williams and linebacker DeMeco Ryans with their first two picks in the draft. The Texans did not make major changes in the secondary despite allowing 220 yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game in 2005. Safety Marcus Coleman signed with the Cowboys, leaving C.C. Brown and Glenn Earl at safety. Both players received extensive playing time last season, which portends greater success in 2006. Third-year starter Dunta Robinson continues to improve at left cornerback and an injury to return man Jerome Mathis means that fellow corner Phillip Buchanon will pull double duty. With experience limited in this group, the Texans will need immediate contributions from there 2006 picks to boost their pass defense.
In the next edition of my off-season review, I'm going to reconstruct the team defenses and update the rankings.