Follow the Money

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August 11, 2005
Follow the Money

by Keith Weiland

Having witnessed the Texans write five bonus checks over the last two weeks totalling roughly $18.7 million dollars, I figured I might find owner Bob McNair listed in this morning’s injury report for a hand cramp or at least a nasty case of heartburn. The armored truck drivers pulling away from McNair’s bank might also to need to find their way into the whirlpool once they finish unloading all that green.

I mean, I haven’t seen so many zeroes since the last time the NFL Network aired Hard Knocks reruns of the 2002 Cowboys training camp.

  Richard Pryor   Richard Pryor

$18.7 million in 14 days? Even Montgomery Brewster had 30 days to spend his millions. As the saying goes, you don’t need to be crazy to spend almost $19 million in 14 days, but it sure does help.

It’s fitting then that the Broncos came to Reliant Park on Wednesday and proceeded to take the Texans’ lunch money during the evening practice. The checks came due in a hurry for the Texans as the offense faltered in each of its two-minute drill attempts, both possessions ending in interceptions.

On defense, things weren’t much better, so much so that defensive backs coach Jon Hoke even made his cornerbacks run sideline sprints afterwards. Credit inside linebacker Morlon Greenwood though. He was money when it counted. He blitzed up the middle to sack Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer with 18 seconds left in the drill, forcing the visitors to rush a 48-yard field goal attempt.

Hanging Chad Right guard Zach Wiegert sat out of Wednesday’s evening practice nursing a sore ankle, pressing reserve lineman Chad Beasley into duty with the first team unit. It was a good news-bad news situation for Beasley. The good news was that he has passed Fred Weary on the depth chart for the opportunity to work with the starters. Bad news though is that after a night like he had, we should all really appreciate how much a healthy Wiegert means to this offensive line.

Pushed back often by the interior of the Denver defense, Beasley was over-matched by the likes of Monsanto Pope and Michael Myers. A former defensive lineman with Virginia Tech, Beasley has made considerable progress since making the switch to offense, but he should step quickly aside for Wiegert once he returns.

Everybody Loves Ramon There’s plenty of good vibes to come from the C.C. Brown story. He’s a small school safety taken late in the 2005 draft, and he’s a member of the Mississippi National Guard. He’s also made a name for himself this offseason, having already been listed as second team on the depth chart, preparing for the possibility of starting on Saturday in place of an injured Glenn Earl. So when a feel-good story like Brown emerges from camp, everybody is happy.

But I wouldn’t blame third-string strong safety Ramon Walker for playing with a little chip on his shoulder after being passed over by a rookie. Walker, a fifth round pick by the Texans in the 2002 draft, showed again on Wednesday why he deserves a roster spot this season. During punt practice, Walker blocked two consecutive punt attempts off the foot of Broncos meathead Todd Sauerbrun. Walker nearly had a third block on the next attempt, getting a tad too eager and running into the punter instead.

Making plays on special teams is nothing new to Walker. Playing in just 11 games in 2003, he led the Texans in special teams tackles. Walker had a monster game that season against the Patriots, blocking a fourth quarter punt before also blocking an overtime field goal attempt, the first in team history. Walker tore an ACL late that year, an injury that kept him from playing at all on gamedays in 2004.

The Blitz Count backup center Todd Washington among the walking wounded. He was wearing a soft cast on his ankle Wednesday night… Wide receiver Jerome Mathis had a scare midway through the evening workout. Running a short route across the middle, he left with what appeared to be a muscle cramp. Mathis returned to the field ten minutes later with his helmet in hand but was unable to make the necessary cuts in his routes to get back in the action… Walker wasn’t the only one to get his hand on a punt Wednesday night. Linebacker Shantee Orr also blocked an attempt by a visibly upset Sauerbrun… Fullback Jonathan Wells appears to have passed Jarrod Baxter on the depth chart. Given Wells’ ability both as a rusher and as a receiver, don’t be surprised to also see less of Moran Norris on the field this season. With Wells joining Domanick Davis in the backfield, Chris Palmer’s offense has a new dumpoff option in case he needs to continue to keep a tight end in pass protection.

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