Texans' Quin makes smooth transition to safety
Two years ago in Jacksonville, Quin tried to knock down a 50-yard desperation heave from David Garrard and ended up giving up the winning score.
The Texans (1-0) return to Jacksonville (0-1) for a game this weekend against a division foe.
''It was a bad thing that happened,'' Quin said. ''It was just an unfortunate situation. I really don't lose any sleep over it.''
Quin was a fourth-round draft pick by the Texans in 2009, and played in 15 games as a rookie. He started all 16 games in 2010, and had his moments, setting a franchise record with three interceptions against Rusty Smith in a 20-0 victory over Tennessee, and recovering fumbles in games against Indianapolis and San Diego.
And then there was that game against the Jaguars.
Before the final play, Quin had led the Texans with 13 solo tackles, including one for a loss. The score was 24-all with 3 seconds left, and Jacksonville had the ball at midfield. Garrard heaved the ball toward the end zone, and Quin smacked the ball volleyball-style and into the waiting arms of Mike Thomas, who slipped into the end zone for the deciding TD.
''If I'd have given up the touchdown in the first quarter, I'd have felt bad,'' Quin said. ''That's just the way I feel.''
Quin was a cornerback in a 4-3 defense then, and he's a safety in Wade Phillips' 3-4 alignment. Previous Texans coaches told Houston's defensive backs to bat down a ball in that scenario; Phillips encourages them to try to catch it if they can.
All Quin can do now is wait for that next opportunity.
''Mistakes are tools of learning, if you learn from them,'' Quin said. ''You obviously want to forget about it going into the next play. But you always remember your experiences, because if you don't remember it, you don't understand how to play it differently.''
Danieal Manning, acquired before last season, talked to Quin about the infamous play and related a similar situation earlier in his career, when he played for Chicago. Manning deflected a pass in a game against Washington in 2007, and the ball ricocheted into the hands of tight end Chris Cooley for a touchdown.
''You hate to say, `routine play,' but he (Quin) did everything they asked him to do, or what we're taught to do,'' Manning said. ''You want to go up and knock the ball down, and that's what he did.''
Quin was Houston's second-leading tackler in 2010 (85) and tied for team's top interception total. The Texans finished 6-10, though, and coach Gary Kubiak fired defensive coordinator Frank Bush, secondary coach David Gibbs and two other assistants.
One of Phillips' first decisions when he became Houston's defensive coordinator was moving Quin from cornerback to safety. It's a more complicated position, Quin says, but he's developed confidence playing there.
Quin made eight fewer tackles (77) in 2011, but says playing safety has made him a more cerebral defensive player. When he played cornerback, Quin said he was always looking to see where his help would come from, so he could gauge how aggressive he could be. At safety, he's more focused on the defense as a whole, recognizing formations and calling for adjustments on the field.
''You have different fits,'' Quin said. ''In run game, you have different rules. You have to know your linebacker rules, so you know where you fit, you have to know where your corners are playing, so you know how to play with your corners. You definitely have to know a lot more at safety.''
Quin sat out Houston's game at Jacksonville as a rookie with a concussion, the only game he's missed as a pro. Of course, there was 2010, and then he hurt his right elbow in the road tilt with the Jaguars last year. He's hoping for a better day in Jacksonville on Sunday.
''Every year I go to Jacksonville,'' he said with a smile, ''it's something interesting.''
NOTES: DE Antonio Smith sat out practice for the second straight day with a sore right ankle. Smith, who had a career-high 6 1/2 sacks in 2011, said he'll be ready for Sunday. RB Arian Foster was back at practice on Thursday after leaving early with an illness on Wednesday. ... Kubiak says newly acquired FB Tyler Clutts could play 20-30 plays in Jacksonville, now that he's had time to study Houston's offense. The Texans picked up the 6-2, 200-pound Clutts in a trade with Chicago on Aug. 31.