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HOUSTON (AP) – Connor Barwin arrived at training camp clean-shaven and sporting a Gary Kubiak-replica haircut, a flat-topped crew cut.
Barwin can get away with playfully mocking Kubiak as long as he keeps producing on the field. The 6-foot-4, 268-pound outside linebacker had a breakout season in 2011, leading the league’s second-best defense with 11 1/2 sacks.
And with only two full seasons under his belt, the Texans hope his best years lie ahead.
“He went in, did such a great job last year, against really good people,” defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. “He was always playing against the left tackle in passing situations, most of the time. The sky’s the limit for him. He’s about 270 pounds and he’s a really good athlete.”
The Texans began two-a-day practices on Saturday, with hundreds of fans packing bleachers on one side of the field. Barwin comes into this year’s camp with renewed confidence after last season, a bounce-back year after he dislocated his right ankle in the 2010 season opener.
“This camp’s a big difference than last year, obviously,” Barwin said. “You were unsure about my ankle, how I would respond to playing full-speed football. I come in a lot more comfortable than I did last year.”