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A Rookie First: Texans' Kenyon Green Works Starting O-Line

After a productive minicamp, Kenyon Green is adjusting to life as a first-teamer with the Houston Texans.

HOUSTON -- The hope and expectation for Houston Texans rookie offensive lineman Kenyon Green is to be the starting left guard come Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts. Things are trending in that direction as the second week of training camp is under way. 

For the first time this season, Green took reps with the projected starters on the offensive line. Currently, Houston’s line appears as so: Laremy Tunsil at left tackle, Green at left guard, Justin Britt at center, A.J. Cann at right guard and Tytus Howard at right tackle. 

Green, who was selected 15th overall out of Texas A&M, has been praised for his ability to excel as a run blocker. In his final year with the Aggies, both running backs shined, rushing for over 900 yards and averaging at least 5.5 yards per run. 

The Texans had a choice when on the clock in terms of upgrading their interior offensive line. Former Boston College guard Zion Johnson was available, but he was best in pass protection. Green, a two-time All-American during his three-year stint with the Aggies, shined in run blocking sets. 

“He needs to get into football playing condition," Texans coach Lovie Smith said Tuesday after practice. "He’s working on that. But now, we’ll continue to let him go with the ones, too. We know that he’s going to play for us. But it’s just about him getting as many looks as we possibly can, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Houston is looking to fix its woes in the run game. Last season, the Texans finished dead last in rushing at 3.4 yards per carry. Veteran runner Rex Burkhead finished with a team-high 427 yards, but didn't even work his way into a starting role until Week 12. 

"Kenyon is doing a pretty good job of when he was not in with the ones, watching what he needs to be able to do to keep up with the ones,” Howard said. "Today he stepped up and did a pretty good job and he's only going to improve from now on.”

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Green is one of two new faces on the offensive line. Cann, an eight-year veteran with the Jacksonville Jaguars, signed a two-year deal this offseason to reunite with line coach George Warhop. In the backfield, Houston added former Colts running back Marlon Mack and drafted Florida's Dameon Pierce in the fourth round. 

Last season, Pierce led the Gators in rushing touchdowns with 13 — 11 of which came from inside the red zone. He has been one of Houston's top playmakers to begin camp, showing a level of consistency inside and even showing a bit of burst in the open-field for big gains during 11-on-11 drills. 

Like Pierce, Green is expected to work his way into the starting lineup full-time. New offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton praised the rookie lineman for his "working his tail off in the classroom" and translating it to the field. 

"He's getting acclimated to the speed and power of playing in the National Football League," Hamilton said.  

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