3 critical factors to watch for at Houston Texans training camp

All eyes are on rookie QB CJ Stroud. Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images.

Training camp is FINALLY underway! Teams, fans, and media are all excited! You get updates every hour or so about what's going on. Sometimes, you'll get updates every few minutes depending upon if practice is going on, and if it's open to media and the public. The weather is either very hot, or somewhat manageable, contingent upon where camp is located. The open practices where fans can attend are always the best experiences. Many won't get that close to their favorite team's players and coaches ever again.

Camp takes on a different feel for teams with new coaching staffs and/or prized rookies. For the Texans, that feel is exponentially greater due to the new coach being a former player, and them having two prized rookies. Add to it the way the last few seasons have gone, and it's easy to see why this year's camp has a much different feel. Since this camp has a different feel, I have some different things I'd like to see coming out of this camp:

QB position clarified: C.J. Stroud should be named QB1 any minute now. He already has the one thing you can't teach, accuracy. Now all he needs is chemistry with his receivers to create that anticipation and timing, then master the playbook. Case Keenum was brought in as a veteran backup/mentor. What better guy to learn from than someone who's been the ultimate QB2 most of his career. Davis Mills needs to understand this “competition” is to show him off for other teams to maybe make an offer for him. In no way should he be on this roster when the final 53 is settled. Thank you for your time. We wish you well on your future endeavors.

Three-headed monster: The wide receiver position is still murky. I see a bunch of WR2s, 3s, and 4s. Of the 13 guys at the position in camp (and maybe more if they add to it), I'm guessing five or six may make the team. Of those five or six, I need three of them to establish themselves as the clear-cut WR1/2/3. Ideally I'd love to see the three of them, whoever they are, come out of camp with an uncanny connection with Stroud. That'll take more time than what they have in camp. But I believe three of these guys can step up and show themselves as the three best in this bunch. This would help ease the tension in the room when the WR position talk happens.

The lynchpin: DeMeco Ryans has said he'll be calling plays this season. As a former defensive coordinator and linebacker, he is uniquely equipped to get the most out of that side of the ball. Defensive coordinator Matt Burke has 20 years of NFL coaching experience behind him. DeMeco coached against him the last couple of years and hired him because he feels he can help shape this defense in the image he envisions. I'd love nothing more than for them to have a firm grasp as to how they want to call plays, situations, and personnel. In other words, I'd like to see this defense be the calling card of this team from day one. Offenses tend to take time to establish themselves. Defenses can take advantage of this early on in the season. What a sight it would be to see this defense being able to take advantage of an offense for a change.

The first two have to do with the offense because it's been abysmal the last few seasons. A rookie QB drafted number two overall puts the offense at the forefront. It's multiplied when there hasn't been a ton of talent at the WR position. When your new head coach is a defensive guy, the defense will be the other focus. A few pieces here and there coupled with a good scheme and play calling can lead to a complete 180 on defense. That defense needs to firmly establish itself early as the staple for this team until Stroud and the offense can catch up. Let's take a look when the season starts and see how close they are.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM

After another poor performance from former Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson, the Cleveland Browns' season is starting to look like an uphill climb. Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb is out for the year, and Cleveland fans aren't too pleased with the way Watson is playing, especially considering the massive contract extension he signed with the team. And we didn't even get to the off the field drama that comes with Watson.

However, Houston fans are invested in the Browns' season outcome as well, with the Texans holding the Browns' first round pick in 2024, and having sent their own first rounder to the Cardinals in the Will Anderson trade.

So each loss for the Browns, means a better draft pick for the Texans!

For Houston, it looks like they have their QB of the future in CJ Stroud. And he'll be on a less expensive rookie contract for the next several years, giving the Texans more cap space to upgrade the roster.

With all of this in mind, is it fair to question if the Texans dodged a bullet when Watson demanded a trade?

DeMeco Ryans vs. Lovie Smith

Plus, we're only two games into the season, but Lovie Smith's defense was much better (with a similar roster) than what DeMeco Ryans' defense has shown thus far, and DeMeco has the benefit of Will Anderson rushing the QB.

Are the struggles on defense more about the roster GM Nick Caserio has put together, or does this slow start fall on DeMeco?

Don't miss the video above as we break it all down!

If you enjoy the videos, subscribe to our new channel SportsMap Texans on YouTube.

And listen to The Bench with John Granato and Lance Zierlein weekday mornings on ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 FM.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome