The Washington Times - July 5, 2009, 03:10PM

25. Houston Texans

Coach: Gary Kubiak (fourth year)

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Last year: 8-8 (doomed by a 3-7 start)

NFL rankings: Offense - third in yards, 17th in scoring; Defense - 22nd in yards, 27th in scoring.

Additions: DE Antonio Smith, QB Dan Orlovsky, DE Shaun Cody, LB Cato June, LB Buster Davis, rookies Brian Cushing (LB) and Connor Barwin (DE) and defensive coordinator Frank Bush.

Subtractions: CB Demarcus Faggins, QB Sage Rosenfels, RB Ahman Green, S Will Demps.

Overview: This is a key year for Kubiak, QB Matt Schaub and the entire Texans team. They’ve gone 8-8 the last two years and think this is their time to jump into playoff contention. But looking at their roster, that’s a tough thing to see. The Texans blew up their defensive coaching staff and drafted defense with their first two picks, but this is still a group that allowed 24 passing TDs and was 27th in sacks. Schaub has missed five games in each of the last two years and has to show that he’s healthy. Steve Slaton assumes the starting running back spot and WR Andre Johnson caught 115 passes for 1,575 yards last year.

Projected starters

Offense: QB Matt Schaub, FB Vonta Leach, RB Steve Slaton, WR Kevin Walter, WR Andre Johnson, TE Owen Daniels, LT Duane Brown, LG Chester Pitts, C Chris Myers, RG Mike Brisel, RT Eric Winston.

Defense: DE Antonio Smith, DT Travis Johnson, DT Amobi Okoye, DE Mario Williams, SLB Zac Diles, MLB DeMeco Ryans, WLB Xavier Adibi, CB Dunta Robinson, CB Jacques Reeves, SS Dominique Barber, FS Eugene Wilson.

Specialists: K Kris Brown, P Matt Turk, KR Andre Davis, PR Jacoby Jones.

Fantasy pick: WR Andre Johnson. Even though Slaton will upgrade the Texans’ running game, Johnson’s numbers last year are too good to pass up early in a fantasy draft.

Projected record: 5-11 (last in AFC South). This might surprise some but it’ll be the Texans and Jaguars fighting to see who finishes third behind Indianapolis and Tennessee. The stretch of Weeks 9-13 (at Colts, bye, home to Titans and Colts and at Jags) will dictate the Texans’ season.

Ryan O’Halloran