Texans training camp preview: Quarterbacks

Deshaun Watson is the man heading into camp. Photo by Edward Clarke

For the first time in a long time there’s no doubt about the quarterback position going into training camp. Deshaun Watson is the franchise and heads into this thing with only his health to worry about. Returning from his torn ACL takes time and while he looks ready to go, it will be up to the coaching staff to keep him on a reasonable snap count while he tests himself in a more regimented practice.

That leaves plenty of playing time for the team to address the real need under center, the one that tanked their 2017 season; Watson’s backup. The fiasco that was Tom Savage is gone, but a lack of available options has left the position still in flux. Currently the options are Brandon Weeden, Joe Webb, and Stephen Morris. The frontrunner is obviously Weeden at this point.

If that doesn’t boost your confidence then you’re not alone. But don’t worry, it could be worse. They could be without Weeden. His seven years have to count for something and it’s not like there are a lot of great options available in free agency. He’s played in the system before so his learning curve won’t be as steep and he is at least capable in a backup role.

Joe Webb has nine years in the NFL but has thrown a total of 159 passes, only seven of those coming after 2011. He’s been used mostly for his athleticism, at times playing positions other than quarterback. He will most likely be in camp the help the offense mimic Watson’s athleticism but not a serious threat to take over as the No. 2 guy.

Stephen Morris is just another guy. He’s been around the league since 2014 but has yet to make a roster. He’s got a great arm, but his accuracy and pocket presence still haven’t quite developed since college. Maybe Bill O’Brien really sees something coachable in him and at 25 years old they keep a third quarterback to develop. I doubt it but stranger things have happened.

Overall, the team is in good shape as long as Watson is ready in Week 1 against the Patriots. Before his injury in Week 8 last season he had a QB rating of 103, on pace to be the highest in franchise history. He was also leading the league in touchdown passes and on pace to throw for more than 4,000 yards. With those numbers he would have been a top contender for Rookie of the Year honors and probably a Pro-Bowl selection.

The goal of the head coach and front office for this position should be a stiff competition for the backup quarterback job. It wouldn’t surprise me if either Webb or Morris were kept on a very short leash while conversations are started with one or two veterans still on the market. Austin Davis, Mark Sanchez and Matt Moore are all names to be considered if the Texans want to go that route. But I assume they will just announce that the job belongs to Weeden and focus attention to other positions of need.


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11 Texans training camp observations from August 7th

Houston Texans insider dishes on why Derek Stingley Jr was the right pick

The Houston Texans had a “vanilla” day of light work. Here are 11observations from the workout.

1. It was a light day for the Texans. Some would say sluggish, I wouldn’t agree with that. Did it look like a day off was in order? Yes. Did anyone make mental mistakes because of their energy level? Not that I could see. With it being a lighter day, it might be worthwhile to focus on some of the depth on the roster.

2. Isaac Yiadom (pronounced YEAH-dum) has had some moments in training camp. With rookie Derek Stingley having a light day, Yiadom played opposite Steven Nelson. Yiadom has had a few pass breakups and seems to be physical in coverage. He has a little speed to him, or he’s shown the ability to stick with wideouts. He is a top preseason game target to watch.

3. Phillip Dorset had a very nice back-of-the-end zone catch. It might have, likely even, been a sack for the defense in a live rep or team rep, but Davis Mills ripped the ball out as the whistle was starting to sound. Dorset with two feet in the back after juking a defender. He is squarely behind other wideouts having missed time but being a veteran should catch up quickly.

4. Wideout Connor Wedington had a few nice plays on Sunday. He has an uphill battle to make the roster, but Davis Mills’ former teammate might squeeze his way into the conversation. There are opportunities for him with a few other wideouts banged up.

5. Rookie tight end Tegan Quitoriano bodied his way for a touchdown. The rookie hasn’t done much in camp, but his size is clearly an advantage. Game reps and more padded practice will be important for him this preseason.

6. Chris Moore is a veteran taking yet another swing at making this team. If the Texans played tomorrow, I would have him on the roster. Probably even starting at slot wideout. He had a very nice leaping grab today.

7. Versatility for a couple of backup offensive linemen may lead to them making the team. Well, it certainly won’t hurt their case. Justin McCray has played all three interior offensive line spots. The veteran could start if needed, but I have to imagine he is a key backup inside. Scott Quessenberry (yes related to former Texans lineman David and current fullback Paul) played guard on Sunday. He is a factor to be Justin Britt’s backup at center.

8. Charlie Heck was not a pick I was in love with when Bill O’Brien selected him a couple of seasons ago. Heck has grown a lot in his game and physically and is surely the backup tackle for this team. He can play left and right tackle.

9. Tae Davis plays linebacker and wears 19. It is the strangest thing to see a linebacker in that number. It has not been strange to see Davis make a play here or there in practice. The linebacker room is loaded but Davis is making the most of his chances.

10. Ka’imi Fairbairn HAMMERED a ball right down the uprights after Davis Mills had led the team into field goal range on a last-minute drill. Mills easily moved the team down the field without the normal group of linemen or weapons. Good finish to practice.

11. Jonathan Greenard did some pushups after he couldn’t replicate history. Greenard almost had his second interception of Davis Mills, but the ball fell incomplete. Greenard has been a force in training camp.

Bonus Quote of the Day: “I was a fat guy last year” said Pharaoh Brown as he talked about his leaner and quicker frame compared to last year.

Listen to Cody Stoots weekdays afternoons 3-7pm on his show "The Wheelhouse" live on ESPN 97.5 + 92.5 FM or anytime on demand at the podcast here.

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