--The Texans' first free-agent signing didn't cause a ripple, much less a splash. They signed punter Donnie Jones to a one-year deal for $890,000, including a $65,000 signing bonus.
Jones, 32, replaces Matt Turk, who replaced Brett Hartmann. Hartmann, who signed last year as an undrafted rookie, suffered a torn ACL and underwent surgery. While recuperating, he found out he'd violated the league's steroids policy and will be suspended for the first three games of next season.
Jones, entering his ninth season, spent the last five years with the Rams. He also punted for Seattle and Miami.
Last season, Jones had a 44.3-yard gross and a 37-yard net - his lowest in both statistics since 2006. He had 29 inside the 20 and nine touchbacks. Two of his punts were returned for touchdowns.
Before last year, Jones had three consecutive seasons with a gross of at least 50 yards. In 2008, his 50-yard gross was the NFL's best since Sammy Baugh punted for the Redskins.
--Tight end Joel Dreessen became the sixth significant player the Texans have lost. Dreessen, who came off the bench behind Owen Daniels, signed with Denver for $8.5 million over three years.
Dreessen caught 28 passes last season, including a career-high six touchdowns. He's a Colorado native who played at Colorado State.
The Texans thought they had a deal with Dreessen, but he slept on it and jumped on the opportunity to start for the Broncos and play with new quarterback Peyton Manning.
They traded linebacker DeMeco Ryans (Eagles). Offensive tackle Eric Winston (Chiefs) and fullback Lawrence Vickers (Cowboys) signed with new clubs after they were released to clear room under the cap.
Quarterback Matt Leinart, also released because of the cap, has yet to sign with another team.
Casey also is the only fullback on the roster. The Texans are expected to sign and possibly draft another fullback. Vickers signed with Dallas.
--RB Arian Foster is so good he makes the offensive line look good.
"Everybody knows Arian's a special back," right guard Antoine Caldwell said. "Even if you're not always right on your blocking assignments, he can make you look good."
Caldwell, replacing Mike Brisiel, expects a smooth transition entering his fourth season.
"We've been together for three years now, so the terminology and the blocking schemes won't be an issue," Caldwell said. "We just need reps together, making the calls and getting used to each other. It's an easy transition. It's not like we're changing systems."
--Coach Gary Kubiak worked with new Miami offensive coordinator Mike Sherman two times during his career. First when both were assistants at Texas A&M. Then when Sherman was Kubiak's assistant head coach and offensive coordinator before he left the Texans to become A&M's head coach.
"Mike's very creative," Kubiak said when asked about Sherman as Miami's offensive coordinator. "He's got a great offensive mind. I think Mike's one of the more creative minds, not only in pro football, but he went back to college. His offense at A&M was exceptional.
"I think a lot of him. He's a great coach, a tremendous person. (Dolphins fans and media) will love him in the community and in the city. Wish him the best. Talk to him all the time."
QUOTE TO NOTE
"No. 1, he's a great kid. Came to Houston, was a very controversial pick at that time (2006). Was a great pick, played very well. He was well on his way to his biggest year as a pro. Unfortunately, he gets hurt. Unfortunately, we weren't able to keep him. But I'm happy for him. I'm very close to him. We got started together. It would have been nice to finish together, but that's not how the business works anymore." - Coach Gary Kubiak on losing outside linebacker Mario Williams to the Buffalo Bills, who guaranteed him $29.4 million.
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