Houston Texans: 5 Players with Increased Roles in 2012

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Houston Texans: 5 Players with Increased Roles in 2012
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The 2011 season was truly one to remember for the Texans franchise and its fans.

The following offseason, however, does not fit the description.

Losing free agent star linebacker Mario Williams to the Buffalo Bills was not much of a surprise, but a huge setback nonetheless.

Eric Winston, Mike Brisiel, Joel Dreessen and Jason Allen were all valuable free agents who ventured elsewhere in addition to "Super Mario," and the well-liked DeMeco Ryans was traded away to the Philadelphia Eagles as well.

Such is life in the NFL, where salary cap restraints and opportunities for expanded roles in another city can clean out a team's roster in less than a month's time.

But the defending AFC South champions are well prepared for the occasion, and have successfully built depth through the draft to prevent any major setbacks.

Here are five Texans who will need to step up in 2012 in order to remain atop the AFC South:

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