Will inexperience at cornerback hold the Texans back in 2010?

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 08: Pierre Garcon #85 of the Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball while defended by Jacques Reeves #35 and Glover Quin #29 of the Houston Texans during the NFL game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 8, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts won 20-17.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Merry preseason, everyone. It’s been a long offseason, but football is finally gearing up again and to celebrate I’m rolling out a new series on TSR entitled “2010 NFL Question Marks,” where I discuss one or two of the biggest concerns that teams have heading into the new season. Granted, some teams have more issues than others, but I’ll primarily be focusing on the biggest problem areas. Today I’ll be discussing whether or not inexperience could derail the Texans’ playoff hopes.

As we head into a new season, you get the sense that the Houston Texans are on the verge of making their first playoff appearance in franchise history. They have a great core on offense featuring Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub and Owen Daniels (when healthy), as well as several young defensive playmakers in Amobi Okoye, Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans.

But unfortunately, the Texans still have plenty of question marks at the cornerback position, enough to make you wonder if this team will once again come up short in their bid to make the postseason.

Their top corner left via free agency this offseason when Dunta Robinson signed with the Falcons. Some pundits will point out that Robinson struggled last year – and he did, recording zero interceptions despite playing the full 16-game slate.

But I asked both Daniels and wide receiver David Anderson this offseason about what Robinson brought to their team and they both essentially said the same thing: Toughness. Despite being 5’10” and 182 pounds, Robinson often played like a middle linebacker in that he never shied away from contract and loved coming up to make a big hit.

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Will the safety position hold the Bengals back in 2010?

PITTSBURGH - NOVEMBER 15:  Chris Crocker #42 and Chinedum Ndukwe #41 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrate in the bench area en route to an 18-12 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers during their game at Heinz Field on November 15, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Bengals defeated the Steelers 18-12. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Merry preseason, everyone. It’s been a long offseason, but football is finally gearing up again and to celebrate I’m rolling out a new series on TSR entitled “2010 NFL Question Marks,” where I discuss one or two of the biggest concerns that teams have heading into the new season. Granted, some teams have more issues than others, but I’ll primarily be focusing on the biggest problem areas. Today I’ll be breaking down the Bengals’ safeties and why they could become a liability for the team this season.

Special teams is arguably the Bengals’ biggest weakness heading into the 2010 season, but I’ve avoided talking about kickers to this point and I’m not going to start now.

Pass protection, pass rush and quite frankly, even Carson Palmer are question marks for Cincinnati heading into the season. But the safety position may be the biggest concern the Bengals have in 2010.

Granted, this isn’t a huge issue because starters Roy Williams and Chris Crocker have loads of experience and Crocker has played very well in Cincinnati despite lackluster tenures in Cleveland and Atlanta earlier in his career. But both of these players have glaring weaknesses that can be exposed by opponents.

We’ll start with Williams, because his weakness is more widely known. The man is a force against the run but couldn’t cover his bed in new sheets. He has also played in just seven games the past two seasons because of nagging injuries. His backup, 25-year-old Chinedum Ndukwe, has failed to impress in his first couple of years despite having the opportunity to see live action when Williams was out.

As previously noted, Crocker has been a good Bengal over the years but he was assisted off the field in the first quarter of the Hall of Fame game earlier this month with a right ankle injury. He dealt with ankle issues late in the year in 2009 and had arthroscopic surgery on one of them in February so obviously that’s a concern.

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Do the Eagles have enough depth in the secondary?

PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 15:  Asante Samuel #22 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates with Quintin Mikell #27 and Trent Cole #58 after an interception for a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns on December 15, 2008 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Merry preseason, everyone. It’s been a long offseason, but football is finally gearing up again and to celebrate I’m rolling out a new series on TSR entitled “2010 NFL Question Marks,” where I discuss one or two of the biggest concerns that teams have heading into the new season. Granted, some teams have more issues than others, but I’ll primarily be focusing on the biggest problem areas. Today I’ll be discussing the lack of depth the Eagles have in their secondary.

Truth be told, the Eagles are in pretty good shape entering the season. The question on everyone’s mind is whether or not Kevin Kolb can replace Donovan McNabb, but I wouldn’t necessarily deem the quarterback position a weakness.

Nor would I say secondary is a weakness either. I like the starting four of Asante Samuel, Ellis Hobbs, Quintin Mikell and highly intriguing rookie Nate Allen. But after trading Sheldon Brown to the Browns in the offseason, the depth behind those players is now where the concern lies.

Hobbs, who keep in mind is coming off neck surgery, is expected to return kickoffs once the regular season starts. If he were to go down with an injury, it would leave the Eagles with Macho Harris, Joselio Hanson or fourth-round pick Trevard Lindley at the cornerback position opposite Samuel. And none of them have proven that they can be starters at this level. (Although to be fair, Lindley is only a rookie.)

And what if Allen struggles as a first-year starter? All indications are that he’s a stud in the making, but the regular season hasn’t started yet and thus, he hasn’t officially been tested. After losing his job to Harris last season and battling injuries throughout the year, can the Eagles get by with Quintin Demps if Allen can’t produce as a rookie?

Of course, most of this is hypothetical, which is why I’ll reiterate that I don’t think the Eagles have any predominant weaknesses. Again, I think their starters are solid and Allen has a legitimate chance of winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year award if he can live up to expectations.

That said, this is still a thin secondary and Andy Reid better hope that this unit can stay healthy throughout the year. An injury to a starter could derail Philly’s chances of returning to the postseason.

Quarterback could derail Cardinals’ season before it gets started

Merry training camp season, everyone. It’s been a long offseason, but football is finally gearing up again and to celebrate I’m rolling out a new series on TSR entitled “2010 NFL Question Marks,” where I discuss one or two of the biggest concerns that teams have heading into the new season. Granted, some teams have more issues than others, but I’ll primarily be focusing on the biggest problem areas. Today I’ll be discussing the Cardinals massive issues at the quarterback position.

The Cardinals have a couple of weakness that could be discussed, including offensive tackle, cornerback and inside linebacker. But none of them will impact their chances this season like the quarterback position will.

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Do the Vikings still have an issue in their secondary?

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 13:  Antoine Winfield #26 (L) and Jamarca Sanford #33 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrate a play against the Cincinnati Bengals on December 13, 2009 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Merry training camp season, everyone. It’s been a long offseason, but football is finally gearing up again and to celebrate I’m rolling out a new series on TSR entitled “2010 NFL Question Marks,” where I discuss one or two of the biggest concerns that teams have heading into the new season. Granted, some teams have more issues than others, but I’ll primarily be focusing on the biggest problem areas. Today I’ll be discussing the Vikings’ secondary concerns.

There’s growing sentiment that the offensive line is the Vikings’ biggest question mark heading into the 2010 season and for good reason. Neither Steve Hutchinson nor Bryant McKinnie played well last year and some pundits believe that Phil Loadholt looks the part, but has a long way to go to be consistently productive.

But keep in mind that Hutchinson has dealt with back issues for the last couple of years and also had a shoulder injury that limited him last season. McKinnie had his own injury concerns (he played with plantar fasciitis for most of the year) and that was only Loadholt’s first year. Considering the Vikings added two new starters to the O-line, it makes sense that they struggled a bit – especially in run blocking.

Hutchinson and McKinnie are reportedly healthy and if both Loadholt and center John Sullivan make strides in their development, the offensive line should be fine. Their secondary on the other hand…

It seems like the Vikings have had the same issues in their secondary for about a decade now. Even in 1998 when they went 15-1 and lost in the NFC Championship Game their biggest weakness was arguably their secondary and despite their best efforts over the years, they can never seem to get the right mix of players back there.

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