When Do Texans' Rookies Get A Chance?
Anthony R Wood
This season was always going to like no other. Any sense of normalcy has disappeared from many aspects of life thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and that includes the NFL. As such, rookies were going to struggle more than ever thanks to a shortened preseason and no preseason games.
However, in the NFL world, the Houston Texans' rookies are finding 2020 to be less rewarding than most.
Romeo Crennel's team has just seven rookies on its books - including the practice squad and injured reserve. Back in April, then-coach Bill O'Brien did state, "I truly believe this is a veteran type of year," and it appears he - and the organization as a whole - meant it.
Only four rookies have seen game time so far, and none have hit triple figures in total snap counts through Week 5. Granted, outside linebacker Jonathan Greenard was struggling early on with an injury, and wide receiver Isaiah Coulter is on IR, but the same cannot be said for the other five. In fact here is a breakdown of their individual snap counts:
4th Rounder: John Reid, CB - 84
2nd Rounder: Ross Blacklock, DT - 68
2nd Rounder: Jonathan Greenard, OLB - 36
UFA: Scottie Phillips, RB - 12
4th Rounder: Charlie Heck, OT - 0
5th Rouder: Isaiah Coulter, WR - 0
UFA: Auzoyah Alufohai, DT - 0
Houston is over a quarter of the way through the regular season, and yet their rookies have been hardly used. And while it is far too soon to be judging whether or not this has been a good, bad, or indifferent draft class, what can be said is that O'Brien's presumption that this is a 'veteran type of year' league-wide is ... simply untrue.
Teams around the league have found ways to incorporate rookies into their squads as per usual, with plenty of them becoming stars in the NFL despite this year's quirks.
Look at the likes of CeeDee Lamb, Justin Herbert, Patrick Queen, Joe Burrow, Jonathan Taylor, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jaylon Johnson and Justin Jefferson. They and many more have made a name for themselves already, and it isn't just the top picks.
Sixth-rounder Isaiah Rodgers is third in the league in kick return yards with the Colts, while undrafted free agent James Robinson is 12th in the league in rushing yards with the Jaguars.
So far, the only Texans rookie to have much of an impact has been cornerback Reid, with eight combined tackles as a rotational corner.
Looking at their college tapes, and based on the Texans' own personnel-department decisions, these players do not lack talent. As mentioned, we were warned back in April that rookies wouldn't get much game time, but competitors have shown this does not have to be the case.
Houston has some talented rookies. With a new coach and with a 1-4 record as the Texans prep for Sunday's Week 6 game at Tennessee, the situation merits the kids deserving a chance to show what they can do.