Not to beat a dead horse, but in case you’ve been living under a rock this entire offseason, you know that the Houston Texans have question marks on offense at wide receiver and along their offensive line. The uncertainty at starting positions is never good heading into training camp, but in fairness, the Texans did the next best thing and loaded up on talent at these spots in hopes that through competition guys would emerge from the pack and seize starting roles.
At wide receiver, the competition for what is perceived as the #3 WR spot has heated up between players everybody hoped it would be: DeVier Posey, Keshawn Martin, and Lestar Jean. With Andre Johnson’s injury on Sunday, all three are getting more reps in practice with the first team, which comes with greater opportunity to impress. Thus far, all three have done an excellent job and stood out in their own ways. Posey has been a consistent threat catching the ball, including several deep passes, and has displayed excellent stamina and conditioning. Martin has also made a number of plays, primarily out of the slot, where his shifty route running is best utilized. Jean has demonstrated his ability to be a big target for the quarterback and shown he has a solid understanding of the offense entering his second season.
As I wrote in the wide receiver training camp preview, I believed that early on Jean would have the advantage over Posey and Martin because of his familiarity with the offense and the NFL game in general. And while Jean has gotten the majority of the first team reps in Johnson’s absence, Posey and Martin appear to be progressing quicker than expected. Veterans Kevin Walter and Bryant Johnson will of course play their fair share in the early going of the season, but the quicker one, if not all three, of the young guys develop, the sooner Texans fans should see the team phase Walter and Johnson out of the lineup.
The battle along the right side of the offensive line has been every bit of intriguing as fans expected it to be. Rashad Butler and Derek Newton have received equal reps at right tackle while Antoine Caldwell and Brandon Brooks have split even time at right guard. All reports out of Texans camp indicate there is no leader at either position and that the apparent incumbents, Butler and Caldwell, are being pushed hard by their counterparts.
Head coach Gary Kubiak was asked by media members to weight in on the position battles at RG and RT, to which he responded, ““It’s very competitive. They’re going back and forth right now. One day, one of them works with the ones, the next day, the other one works with the ones. They’re split right down the middle. We’ll see who gets it done.” On how the competition will ultimately shake out, Kubiak continued, “I think that Gump (Caldwell) has done some good things. Butler has done some good things. The young guard (Brooks) has the ability, he has big-time ability, but he has to catch up. You see flashes of what you’re looking for. I think Newton is still a young player, but he’s a physical player. It’ll be interesting. It’ll sort itself out in the games, probably not in practice.”
The Texans’ offense line battle couldn’t be in a better situation heading into preseason games with four competent options to work with and evaluate against live NFL defenses.
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