Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 7/30/12

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: Head coach Gary Kubiak of the Houston Texans looks on during the game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 1, 2009 in Orchard Park, New York. Houston won 31-10. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
HOUSTON Texans coach Gary Kubiak was effusive in his praise, and one object of his accolades on Monday underscored why the Texans should maintain the momentum they established defensively in 2011. That Kubiak deemed it necessary to applaud third-year cornerback Sherrick McManis for having a "great morning" reinforced just what might be the Texans' most overlooked asset defensively: their depth. What the Texans confirmed last season through the losses of outside linebacker Mario Williams (pectoral) and free safety Danieal Manning (leg) for varying stretches was they cultivated enough talent to withstand significant attrition. As they opened training camp in advance of a season rife with great expectations, the Texans have gained renown for their accumulated frontline talent on defense with 10 starters back. But what McManis reinforced in spelling Kareem Jackson (hamstring) Monday is that he and Brice McCain are capable. Troy Nolan filled in admirably when Manning was sidelined for three games midway through last season. Up front, the Texans have come to rely upon the production of backup nose tackle Earl Mitchell. Quality franchises offer more than a lineup of superstars. What the Texans have managed through personnel manipulation is a depth chart that can rival any throughout the league, and the coaching to prepare it. "Coach Kubiak gives us a chance to work everybody pretty much the same starting out training camp so we don't teach everybody the same, teach them progression which really helps us for everybody to know what they're doing and how they're supposed to do it," Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. "As we go along we identify players certainly and then we get more reps with our first group, but even our second-team guys we want to try to get them ready too." So while the emphasis for most will focus on how second-year starters J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed develop off breakthrough rookie campaigns, the Texans will need rookies Whitney Mercilus and Jared Crick to ready themselves for when their turn in the playing rotation presents itself. While Johnathan Joseph and Manning are known commodities in the secondary, Texans coaches feel confident in what safeties Quintin Demps and Nolan bring to the table. The Texans lost rotation cornerback Jason Allen (Bengals) to free agency, but the addition of veteran Alan Ball should solidify a unit teeming with potential outside of McCain and McManis, with Brandon Harris and Roc Carmichael next up. Late last summer, with the Texans introducing a new defensive scheme following an offseason lost to the lockout, the emphasis was on expedited installation. This second go-round offers not only opportunities for reinforcement, but for starters and backups to further find their individual niches in this scheme and develop accordingly. "You've got a lot of quality guys that played last year. Those same guys are here," Manning said. "So it's not really a picking up the defense standpoint, it's finding the small nuances of this defense. That's what Wade is trying, making sure we know it and when we know it, he can slow it down. That's what I like about him and that's what I like about this team." Because the Texans have an established rotation defensively, with starters entrenched and the unit welcoming a small handful of newcomers, Phillips and the veterans are growing together from a place of familiarity. Phillips has a better idea of who thrives in press coverage and who excels in zone, and the players have a greater understanding of exactly what is required of them in any particular package or situation. Thus the level of confidence is two-pronged. Not only are the players better acquainted with what Phillips demands, they are stable in their beliefs in what their teammates are capable of providing in a pinch. "Those are small things that you can't really coach," Manning said. "Confidence, morale you can't really coach that. You can pat guys on the back all the time but they know. Players know who watch film, they know from the periods that they're playing or who they're practicing with who's not getting the job done. But here, that's not what happens. "Guys get down, guys are pulling them up. They (the backups) know that we need them. Everybody is accountable and held accountable on this team, and everybody wants to be a part of this." So when Kubiak praises McManis for a practice well done, the compliments don't ring hollow. And while there was sour news revealed this weekend in the form of linebacker Darryl Sharpton suffering a rehab setback that might cost him the bulk of the preseason, the Texans will turn to Tim Dobbins and Mister Alexander to help fill the latest void. When the Texans lost Williams against the Raiders in Week 5, they were not devastated. And while they hope for optimal health this season, the Texans must acknowledge that their strength is in the numbers they plan to showcase when the campaign commences Sept. 9 against Miami. "It's a new year," Phillips said. "We have all our starters back except one (linebacker DeMeco Ryans) on defense so we're looking forward to it. But you've still got to prove yourself every year. The backup players have to prove they're backup players and that they can come in and be ready to play." Follow me on Twitter at moisekapenda
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Alejandro Villanueva ’embarrassed’ he stood alone for national anthem

Ben Roethlisberger: Steelers should not have stayed in tunnel during anthem

Aaron Judge sets MLB rookie record with 50th home run

LeBron James on Kyrie Irving trade: I was ready to give him the keys

Doris Burke to make history as regular analyst on ESPN

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Biggest surprises from Week 3 in the NFL

Kristaps Porzingis on Knicks’ drama: ‘Past is the past’

Report: Teddy Bridgewater will be ready to go for Week 7

14 unsung heroes from college football Week 4

Josh Norman to Raiders WRs: ‘Do not run your mouth’

Gregg Popovich again goes after ‘disgusting’ Donald Trump

After Carmelo Anthony trade, the Western Conference looks completely different

The 'Celebrations are afoot in Philadelphia' quiz

Getaway Day: Closing time on 2017 regular season

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mayor Garcetti rolls back the NFL red carpet

The 'Greatest Show temporarily not on turf' quiz

Separating MLS playoff contenders from pretenders

WNBA Finals preview: Lynx look for revenge against Sparks

The 'Chris Sale joins an elite club' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: The home runs just keep on coming

Building on the NFL's positive changes beyond 2017

NFL Week 3 predictions

The 'MLB is as powerful as ever' quiz

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

After Melo trade, the West looks completely different

The 'Celebrations are afoot in Philadelphia' quiz

Getaway Day: Closing time on 2017 regular season

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mayor Garcetti rolls back the NFL red carpet

The 'Greatest Show temporarily not on turf' quiz

Separating MLS playoff contenders from pretenders

WNBA Finals preview: Lynx look for revenge against Sparks

Three Up, Three Down: The home runs just keep on coming

The 'Chris Sale joins an elite club' quiz

Building on the NFL's positive changes beyond 2017

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker