FALCON POINT

Fred Faour: Other than not being able to count on oft-injured CB Johnson, Texans are on pace for the opener

Kevin Johnson had a rough year last year and a tough night on Saturday. Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

The Texans are halfway through the preseason and are in the stretch run to real football. The best news is they have remained relatively unscathed on the injury front. They suffered one significant one Saturday night when cornerback Kevin Johnson went out early with a concussion.

This was going to be a key year for Johnson. He played all 16 games as a rookie, but just six in his second year and 12 last year in a season that was a complete disaster. As a first-round pick with multiple injuries and performance issues, Johnson is very close to getting the dreaded “bust” label.

It is his second concussion, and came on a play where he was badly beaten. Johnson appears to be OK, but concussions are dicey, and there is no way of knowing when he will return. Johnson has shown flashes at times, but coming off a rough season and multiple injuries, it is safe to say the Texans can’t count on him. Considering it is one of the thinnest positions on the roster, it is an unfortunate turn of events.

It means Aaron Colvin likely starts alongside Jonathan Joseph, but now Johnson Bademosi moves up a spot. Bademosi is a terrific special teams player but a below average corner. There does not appear to be another answer on the roster unless Kareem Jackson moves back from safety, but that would weaken what appears to be a strength. 

The Texans are having former Ram Kayvon Webster in for a visit. He played in 11 games last season and is also coming off an injury. He is nothing special, but likely better than any options on the roster.

Veteran Dominique Rogers-Cromartie remains available as well.

Other than Johnson, none of the key injured players from last year have seen much time. In reality, they should not. Deshaun Watson has played two series, and there is no reason to put him back out there. Same goes for J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.

Watson looked sharp in his work against the 49ers, but starting quarterbacks are supposed to do that in preseason games. The good news is he is moving well and looks ready for the regular season.

The key over the next two games will be to keep the important players healthy, and see who earns the bottom roster spots.

What have we learned so far?

Pretty much what we already knew. The biggest question marks coming in were offensive line, running back depth behind Lamar Miller and depth on the corners. With Johnson’s injury, the latter becomes an even bigger issue.

The OL has looked OK in the first two games, but we really won’t learn much about this group until the real games start.

After Miller, the Texans don’t appear to have anything above mediocre players at running back. This group could look a lot different if D’Onta Foreman is able to return, but he is coming off an Achilles injury and should not be counted on.

Still, Watson appears to be healthy, and J.J. Watt has looked good in camp, even if he hasn’t played a game, so there are positives. But until they play for real, most of the big questions will remain unanswered. 

Meanwhile, Brandon Weeden has looked pretty solid as Watson's backup. Obviously if Watson is down for any extended time, the Texans are in trouble, but if you had to play Weeden 2-3 games, you would feel much better than you did last season. The interior defensive line and linebackers also appear to be much deeper this season.

The Johnson injury is the one added concern, and hopefully it can be remedied by adding another player. Or maybe he recovers quicker than expected. But if that is your biggest problem when the season starts, you can live with it. 

In fact, you probably should have expected it.  

 

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Walter will host The Night of Champions. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images.

In 2014, Austin Walter rushed for 2,704 yards and 34 touchdowns as a senior at Crosby High School. Despite falling short of a state title, Walter was named District 19-4A MVP and finished his prep career with a little over 6,000 rushing yards on 613 carries (6,062 yds). Seven years later, Walter will be returning to his high school alma mater to give back to the community that laid the foundation for an NFL career as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.

"It's a blessing to be able to come from a small town and be one of the guys who made it out," Walter said. "Not a lot of people made it to the NFL or the NBA from Crosby High School. To be one of the first, it's an amazing feeling. It's a blessing and an honor."

On Thursday, April 15, Walter will host The Night of Champions to benefit the Crosby High School Booster Club from 6-9 p.m. The event will be a weight lifting competition at Crosby High School for student-athletes around the area to showcase their talents and abilities.

In addition to hosting a weight lifting showcase, Walter will also share his life teachings with student-athletes in attendance. Perseverance and not taking no for an answer will be one of the most vital messages the Crosby native will share with aspiring pro-athletes. It's the two virtues Walter has leaned on from little league football to the NFL. And as an undrafted prospect in 2019, it was that same morale that helped him outshine six other running backs during the 49ers rookie training camp that same year.

"Before I started playing football in high school, a lot of people thought I was too small," Walter said. "They thought because we played little league and not in middle school we would not make it in high school. My twin brother [Ashton Walter] and I did not listen to that. We just kept pushing forward."

"When I left Rice, people thought I was going to play in the Canadian league or AFF, and I did not take no for an answer. I believed in myself. And I believed in God. And if I can make it out of a small town like Crosby, anybody can make it...It's the mentality I've had my entire life of not quitting. I feel like that is what got me to the point I am at right now."

Whether their life goal is to play in the NFL or not, Walter's primary objective for The Night of Champions is to be an inspiration and show kids they can find success despite their environment. It is one of the things the former XFL running back (Dallas Renegades) wished he would have seen growing up in Crosby.

After graduating from Crosby High School, Walter went on to have a record-breaking collegiate career at Rice University. He became one of two players in school history to rush for over 1,500 yards (1,744 yds.) and 1,000 kick return yards (1,548 yds.) in four seasons with the Owls. In February, Walter signed a one-year contract extension to re-join the 49ers ahead of the 2021 NFL season.

Click here to learn more about The Night of Champions at Crosby High School or support Walter and the Crosby High School Booster Club.

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