Positions to watch at Texans training camp
Football season is finally upon us. We've waited since the Super Bowl ended (or longer for those who eject after their team is eliminated) for another taste of football. The offseason has been tumultuous for the Texans as they fired their general manager, franchised their enigmatic for number one overall pick, failed to draft the best player at their biggest position of need, and didn't sign any top flight talent in free agency.
Training camp starts on Thursday July 25 for the Texans. This is a team that went 11-5 and won the AFC South last year. People out there are expecting them to win the division again, repeat that 11-5 record or better, or some are expecting them to possibly challenge for a Super Bowl berth. I, however, am a bit more reserved in my expectations. I can see an 8-8 type of season, or a 10-6 season. That will depend on how some key positions perform. Usually there are a few players and/or positions to look out for every camp. Here's a look at some positions (and players) that will make or break the Texans' season:
The Texans missed on Andre Dillard when the Eagles swooped in front of them and drafted the best tackle prospect in the draft at the pick in front of them. They followed that up with drafting Tytus Howard with their first round pick and Max Scharping with the second of their second round pick. Signing Matt Khalil, an injury prone left tackle that once had All-Pro ability, did very little to ease fears. If Deshaun Watson is to avoid another 60+ sack season, the OL will have to improve greatly.
With Jadeveon Clowney out until he signs his franchise tender, and Whitney Mercilus in a contract year, expect this position to be hotly contested as well. Not only are guys going to get reps with Clowney out until he signs the franchise tag then reports, and Mercilus competing for his livelihood as well, not only will other guys get valuable reps, but some may get a chance to shine and prove why they may be worthy of more time.
After DeAndre Hopkins, there's a logjam of a bunch of guys at receiver. Will Fuller and Keke Coutee need to prove themselves worthy of being the number two and slot receivers on this team. Other guys may want to shoot their shots as neither of the aforementioned guys have been able to firmly establish themselves in their positions. Somebody has to step up in these backup roles, or else the team will be drafting for another position of need in 2020.
Sure this team has Justin Reid coming off a promising year, but they let Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson leave via free agency. Jonathan Joseph is as old as I am, but he's coming back for another year. Bradley Roby is signed to a one year deal, but hasn't proved he's worth more in his time in Denver. Maybe one of the two rookies the Texans drafted will step up and prove themselves worthy? However it pans out, the position is one to watch all season long.
Neither of the guys they drafted last year did much to separate themselves. Enter Kahale Warring. As an athletic third rounder selected this year, he's set to come in and give Jordan Thomas and Jordan Akins some much needed competition. When there's a good tight end to occupy the middle of the field, it opens up more routes for the wide receivers, and gives Watson more targets. If any of these guys can step up, this pass game has a chance to be pretty good.
Yes, Lamar Miller is coming back, so is D'Onta Foreman. However, one is a veteran who hasn't proved he's capable of carrying the load for a real competitive team for a complete season, and the other is coming off a serious injury. Nothing was added to this position this offseason in terms of adding competition. Therefore, the team believes in these two guys being able to get it done. Also note that valued backup Alfred Blue was not retained. Losing him means more to your special teams, but having a guy like that as a backup added to the depth of the position.
i may sound down on this team, but I have my reasons.Seeing the way they've operated over the course of their history makes me extremely skeptical. Add that to the fact that they're going about it with a general manager by committee, and it ups the level of difficulty tenfold. If they should happen to catch lightening in a bottle two years in a row, I'll be the first to admit I'm wrong, but I could see another disappointing season ahead. I'd love nothing more than to admit I'm wrong, but this team has given me very little to be excited about. If you want to wear your battle red and deep steel blue fan glasses, you have your right to be wildly optimistic. I, however, tend to look at things more objectively and see this team taking a step back from what they did last year. These five position groups will go a long way into proving me right or proving me wrong.