AFC South Time Machine: The 10 Best Houston Texans of All Time
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The AFC South Time Machine is feeling pretty basic today, so all week I'll be looking at the all-time 10 best players from each team in the division.
The Texans are still writing their narrative and building their heroes. This list will work for now, but I expect some of their young stars to break onto it soon.
1. Andre Johnson
I don't think any Texan fan will argue with Johnson in the top slot here. He's had an amazing, even Hall of Fame-type career.
Johnson leads the Texans in every conceivable category. No one has played in more games, caught more passes, picked up more yards, scored more touchdowns, been to more Pro Bowls and pretty much meant everything to the Houston fans.
2. Matt Schaub
Johnson was the easy part of the list. This is where things get more complicated. I'm going to go with Schaub, even though I know there is a contingent of Texans fans that don't like him.
Schaub's credentials are solid. He's made a Pro Bowl and has had two 4,000-yard passing seasons. Overall, he's had an underrated career in Houston.
The team's lack of success and his injuries are a big part of that. Even as they won a playoff game last year, Schaub sat on the sidelines with an injury.
Second feels too high for him, but it's difficult to find anyone else who should be higher.
3. DeMeco Ryans
Ryans was recently traded to Philadelphia for a stack of old 45 LPs and some lightly chewed gum, but it would be unwise to focus on the end of his time in Houston.
Behind Johnson, Ryans might have been the most significant player emotionally for the Texans. The linebacker was a two-time Pro Bowler and ranks sixth all time in games played for the franchise.
At a time when the Texans didn't have much going for them on defense, Ryans held the team together. He was past his prime when the team dealt him, but fans shouldn't think that for six seasons he was the defensive glue for the team.
4. Mario Williams
I won't argue with anyone who wants to see Super Mario higher on this list, but I don't know that he'll have many people lined up to defend him.
The two-time Pro Bowler is ninth in career games played and holds the franchise record with 53 sacks. Of course, Connor Barwin is in second on that list with 16.5, so it's not exactly a tough competition.
Williams was on the verge of another huge season in 2011 when he was lost for the year with an injury. His subsequent departure for the big money of Buffalo left a bad taste in the mouth of many fans.
5. Arian Foster
No, seriously. Foster deserves to be this high.
He has two Pro Bowls in three seasons with the Texans, and will become the franchise's all-time leading rusher by the second week of the 2012 regular season.
He already has a rushing title and is at least as decorated as any Texan not named Johnson.
Barring significant injury, there's no way that Foster finishes his career lower than third on this list.
6. Eric Winston
Now it gets complicated. Winston was just released by the Texans, but there's no question that he had a great impact during his tenure in Houston.
He was one of the better right tackles in football for several seasons. At 92 games played, only Johnson, Chester Pitts and Kevin Walter played more games for the Texans. I think Winston was better than the last two, so he winds up here.
7. Owen Daniels
Daniels is 10th all time in games played for the Texans and will likely finish the year in the top four.
Daniels has never quite fulfilled his incredible potential as he had a couple of injury-shortened seasons.
He's second on the franchise receiving list for yards and receptions and is third in touchdowns. If he can manage to post a couple of strong seasons, he'll likely finish his run in the top five Texans of all time.
8. Chester Pitts
Pitts wasn't a great player, but he was an original Texan who started for the first seven years the team played in Houston. Only Johnson has more games played with the franchise.
Nothing against Pitts, but I expect he slides off the list in a couple of years.
9. Duane Brown
Brown is a good left tackle. He has only been with the Texans for four seasons but has legitimate Pro Bowl potential.
As the Texans win more and get more attention, I expect Brown will see more accolades as well. By the end of this season, he'll likely be tied with David Carr with 76 games played as a Texan. That would be good for 13th place.
10. Brian Cushing
The Texans have plenty of young talent, and Cushing is the leader of the bulls. He's only been in the league three years, but already has a Pro Bowl and a defensive Rookie of the Year award under his belt.
He's a heavy hitter, and his versatility makes him an invaluable weapon in Wade Phillips defense.
While I expect him climb higher on this list and soon, for now consider him a placeholder for any one of several Texans' defenders who will likely dominate this list in five years.
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