Collins feels the pain

Kerry Collins feels empathy for David Carr, the rookie quarterback shouldering the burden of leading the first-year Houston Texans.

"He's the poster boy of that franchise," Collins said Thursday. "He seems to be handling it really well. It's a big adjustment for him because there is so much excitement with what football in that area means to those people."

Collins faced a similar rookie challenge with the Carolina Panthers in 1995. Collins stepped in to compile a 7-6 record after veterans Frank Reich and Jack Trudeau faltered.

Carr, the starter in every game for the Texans (2-8), won't come close to Collins' rookie production. It's hard to focus on winning when you're scrambling to survive.

With the offensive line in shambles, Carr has taken a pounding, sacked a league-high 53 times.

"The one nice thing about those 53 sacks is that they are already behind us," Carr said. "Our guys have learned from each and every one of them. We like to think we don't make the same mistake twice."

The Texans will find out where they register on the learning curve when the Giants and Michael Strahan visit Sunday for their first regular-season meeting.

"Just because it happened in the past doesn't mean it will happen this game," Strahan said of the prospect of padding his sack stats (eight through 10 games).

"First of all, you have to stop the run to make a team pass. Outside of one game in the last four, our run defense hasn't been that great.

"We are preparing to stop the run, first and foremost."

That might not be so tough. The Texans have been held under 100 rushing yards in five consecutive games and in eight of 10 overall.

Failure to run the ball effectively makes the Texans a one-dimensional, pass-oriented offense. That keeps Carr scrambling away from the frequent protection breakdowns.

"I think through the number of times that he has been sacked, he has gained a lot of respect in the locker room because he is a tough guy," said Texans' head coach Dom Capers. "He continues to bounce back and doesn't let it phase him."

Capers, who also coached Collins in his rookie season, sees similarities in the quarterbacks. Collins made great strides in his second year, leading Carolina to a 10-4 record as a starter on the team that went all the way to the NFC Championship game.

Capers hopes that force-feeding Carr in the starter's role will accelerate his development.

"We figured why not just cut to the chase and make him the starter right from the beginning," Capers said. "The Colts did it with Peyton Manning and it paid great dividends in his second year.

"I can only see it paying dividends with David."