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Texans regroup during offseason of heavy turnover

Have the Houston Texans messed with a good thing this offseason?

It's too soon to say, but the team's foundation has been tested following an offseason of heavy turnover.

The Texans captured the AFC South for the first time in their 10-year existence in 2011, then won a playoff game before falling to the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional playoffs.

What followed was a small-scale exodus, led by Mario Williams, the franchise leader in sacks who took a big-money deal with the Buffalo Bills. Tight end Joel Dreessen, right tackle Eric Winston and right guard Mike Brisiel also signed with other teams in free agency. The Texans then surprised many last week by dealing away linebacker DeMeco Ryans to the Philadelphia Eagles for draft picks.

"We're going to miss a lot of those guys," wide receiver Kevin Walter told The Associated Press on Monday. "I wish them the best of luck, and it's tough. They're key guys. But we've got guys who are going to step up and make plays, and we have a lot to look forward to. Next year is going to be a lot of fun."

The fact that many of the departed players were clubhouse leaders isn't lost on tight end Owen Daniels.

"There are always changes," Daniels said, "but I think the big difference this year is there's been a big change with guys who've brought us to this point, that have been here for five or six years. We'll all get together here in a couple of weeks and start that bonding process again and we'll be in good shape. We've got a lot of guys who are excited, a lot of guys who are eager to get their chance to play and show what they're all about. That's a good thing for us."

The new-look Texans will come together for OTAs in late May. Matt Schaub is coming off foot surgery and is expected to be 100 percent. Andre Johnson -- doomed by leg issues in 2011 -- will also be at full strength. Running back Arian Foster is an MVP in waiting and Houston's defense was among the league's best last year even without an injured Williams.

The Texans still have the pieces to be one of the AFC's most dangerous teams, but chemistry concerns simmer beneath the surface.

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