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Tuesday February 25th, 2020 4:25AM

Houston Texans abruptly fire GM Brian Gaine

By The Associated Press
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HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans abruptly fired general manager Brian Gaine on Friday less than 18 months after he took the job.

The team announced the move with a statement from team owner Cal McNair, who said only that "while the timing may be unusual, this decision was made in the best interest of the organization in our quest to build a championship team."

Gaine was hired to replace Rick Smith in January 2018 after Smith took a leave of absence to be with his wife while she fought cancer.

The Texans went 11-5 in Gaine's first season in charge after he spent the 2017 as vice president of player personnel for the Buffalo Bills. This stint was his second with the Texans after he worked for them from 2014-16 as director of player personnel.

Senior vice president of football administration Chris Olsen will run the team's football operations while the Texans search for a new general manager.

It's unclear what led to Gaine's dismissal. Though his first season was a success, Gaine had been criticized for failing to improve the team's porous offensive line after Deshaun Watson was sacked an NFL-leading 62 times last season.

Watson played every game in his second year after having season-ending knee surgery as a rookie, but he was hurt for a good part of the season while dealing with a partially collapsed lung and broken ribs from taking hit after hit.

Gaine drafted Alabama State offensive tackle Tytus Howard with the 23rd overall pick in the draft, but some wondered if Howard was the right choice with other more seasoned linemen from bigger schools and more powerful conferences available.

Gaine also attempted to beef up the line in free agency but faced criticism there after signing injury-prone left tackle Matt Kalil. A Pro Bowl selection as a rookie in 2012 after the Vikings picked him fourth overall, Kalil missed all of last season with a knee injury and sat out all but two games in 2016 with a hip injury.

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