HOUSTON For some, the trading of veteran linebacker DeMeco Ryans to the Eagles on March 20 was a haphazard disregard of not only one of the more popular players in franchise history, but a defensive stalwart.
Never mind that Ryans was slowed by a preseason elbow injury and the rebuilt Achilles' tendon that sidelined him in 2010, or that he wasn't an ideal fit in the new defensive scheme implemented by coordinator Wade Phillips. His loss was greeted with a measure of concern and disdain.
In shipping Ryans to the NFC, the Texans opened one hole in a unit that finished second in the NFL in yards allowed last season. Finding the right fit to plug that gap wouldn't come easy given Ryans' contributions.
"It worried me when I found out first that DeMeco left," Texans outside linebacker Brooks Reed said. "And they brought in Bradie (James) and we had watched film on him before last year even started and we knew that he was in the system already, he was a leader of that (Cowboys) defense...