Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 10/31/11
General managers strive for it and coaches pray it actually exists on their roster. But regardless of what the personnel department believes or the coach preaches, the only true way to measure the quality of a team's depth is when the team relies on that depth to get through a critical stretch of the season. Because the NFL season is the most physical grind of all sports, injuries usually play a role. Good teams endure and keep moving forward. In the case of the Texans, it's becoming clear that depth is a strength. "We've got (injury) issues right now," said coach Gary Kubiak. "Five guys in five weeks that we're replacing. They don't stop things and you have to go play the next week. Other players lift (the back-up players). Troy Nolan starts so the players take him under their wing and say, Troy we're going to be fine. We got your back.' That's been the mentality on our football team." Over the past five weeks the Texans have lost to injuries linebacker Mario Williams, receiver Andre Johnson, utility player James Casey, safety Daniel manning and the latest-linebacker Darryl Sharpton is done for the year with a torn quad tendon. Tim Dobbins is next on the Texans linebacker depth chart. Brooks Reed has taken over Williams' linebacker spot and has two sacks in the past two games. Troy Nolan started in place of Manning Sunday against the Jaguars and had five tackles. The Texans have obviously been unable to find a replacement for Johnson and that's had an effect on the offense but tight end Joel Dreessen has picked up part of the receiving slack. While Tim Jamison has not been filling in for a lost starter, he has been an effective player in the rotation along the defensive line. And, of course, the most glaring area of depth for the Texans is at running back, where Ben Tate has amassed more than 500 yards as Arian Foster's replacement. Derrick Ward, a more than competent back-up last season, rarely sees the field now due to injuries and the quality ahead of him. In fact, Chris Ogbonnaya, cut a couple of weeks ago, has become the Browns' main ball carrier due to injuries in their backfield. "Throughout the course of an NFL season you're going to get tested," Kubiak said. "Some years are better than others. Some years you stay clean. But that's why you're always trying to build depth and competition on your roster." Tate, Nolan and Reed were draft picks. Jamison was an undrafted free agent and Dreessen was picked up by the Texans after getting cut elsewhere. Monday Kubiak did make it clear that the team will have to sign a linebacker due to Sharpton's season ending injury. Kubiak hopes that Johnson is ready for the game against the Browns Sunday at Reliant Stadium but that's still undetermined. With Williams out for the year and Manning likely done for the majority of the season reed and Nolan will have to continue to produce at a starter's pace.
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