Texans' 2024 Linebacker Group Takes Shape Under DeMeco Ryans

The Houston Texans' linebacker group for the 2024 season is taking shape under head coach DeMeco Ryans, with Azeez Al-Shaair and Christian Harris as starters. Jacob Phillips and Henry To'oTo'o will compete for the third linebacker spot and top backup roles.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Texans' 2024 Linebacker Group Takes Shape Under DeMeco Ryans

Texans' 2024 Linebacker Group Takes Shape Under DeMeco Ryans

The Houston Texans' linebacker group for the 2024 season is taking shape under the guidance of head coach DeMeco Ryans. The unit will be led by starters Azeez Al-Shaair and Christian Harris, with Jacob Phillips and Henry To'oTo'o competing for the third linebacker spot and top backup roles.

Ryans, a former linebacker himself, has remade the position in his image since taking over as head coach. Two of the top four linebackers, Harris and To'oTo'o, are from Ryans' alma mater, the University of Alabama. Ryans also brought in Al-Shaair from the Tennessee Titans after coaching him as his positional coach and defensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers from 2019 to 2022.

Jacob Phillips, acquired by the Texans in a trade for a 2023 sixth-round pick, has struggled with injuries in his first three seasons. He started eight games and played in just 20 of 50 possible games. Phillips missed all of the 2023 season due to injury, appearing in only 20 of 67 possible games in his career. The Texans are betting on Phillips finding health in Houston, similar to linebacker Blake Cashman. Phillips signed a one-year, $1.15 million contract with the team.

Henry To'oTo'o, drafted by the Texans in the fifth round of the 2023 draft, played with Harris and defensive end Will Anderson Jr. at Alabama in 2021. The trio combined for an impressive 292 tackles, 50 tackles for loss, and 29 sacks that season. To'oTo'o totaled 205 tackles in his final two seasons with the Crimson Tide.

The Texans' linebacker group is expected to feature Al-Shaair and Harris as the two starters in their base defense, with Phillips and To'oTo'o serving as the primary backups. Additional depth at the position will be provided by special teams contributors.

If healthy, Phillips is likely to play alongside Harris and Al-Shaair in three-linebacker sets and be the top backup behind the duo. The Texans are hopeful that Phillips, who boasts impressive measurables including a 39-inch vertical jump and 10'6" broad jump, can overcome his injury history and make a significant impact in the 2024 season.

Key Takeaways

  • Texans' linebacker group led by Azeez Al-Shaair and Christian Harris.
  • Jacob Phillips and Henry To'oTo'o compete for third linebacker spot.
  • Head coach DeMeco Ryans remade linebacker unit with Alabama connections.
  • Jacob Phillips signed 1-year, $1.15 million contract after injury-plagued seasons.
  • Texans hope Phillips can overcome injuries and make impact in 2024.