Texans: Back Burner Issues
Patrick D. Starr
Houston Texans' fans were concerned with two big situations when first coming into camp, the wide receiver situation and the right side of the offensive line. Now heading past the halfway point of the preseason, the recent play of young wide receivers Keshawn Martin and Lestar Jean has calmed the wide receiver worries a bit. As for the right side of the offensive line, it looks like Antoine Caldwell has the right guard position under control while the right tackle position is still being sorted out between Derek Newton and Rashad Butler.
If you have been keeping up with the Texans, you have been paying attention to those story lines and know what is going on there. As all camps move along, new topics of discussion have emerged with some injuries and overall play of certain players.
A New Specialty Player?
We all know what has happened during the first two preseason games with Trindon Holliday and him making a case for the final roster coming out of camp. He has a big chance heading into the New Orleans game to make his biggest statement as a returner for the Texans. Holliday must be perfect with the remaining chances he gets, and not necessarily with scoring a touchdown on every return. It comes down to smart positive returns every time he touches the ball and also trying not to do too much by himself. In his two touchdown returns, he had some key blocks from teammates to let his speed take over, which he has plenty of.
Turning into a fan favorite every moment he is on the team, it is Holliday's roster spot to lose. Perfection is what Holliday is looking for.
Thin at the Nose
Shaun Cody is out with a back injury and it looks like it will keep him sidelined until week one of the regular season. Sunny Harris went down with a triceps injury that he suffered in an individual drill that landed him on the injured reserve. Now with only Earl Mitchell as the only nose tackle on the team with any type of experience in the middle of the defensive line, the Texans will see if rookie Hebron Fangupo can answer the call for the defense. News has come out that Tim Jamison (285 lbs.) and Jared Crick (287 lbs.)will also get some work at the nose tackle, but reality is both will have some serious issues against the run. Despite the one gap defense Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips coaches, if both Jamison and Crick encounter a double team from the offense, we fear the worst when it comes to holding up against the run.
If the Texans are not convinced with the job Fangupo can do, it would be safe to say the Texans will continue to scour the waiver wire and free agent market for a potential nose tackle. The issue of Cody's back should have the Texans wary of what might happen during the season and with back issues and the beating he takes in the trenches, the team better have a back up plan. With no true run stopper with Cody getting healthy, Fangupo is looking to fill that void.
No Captain, No Problem?
As the first two preseason games have come and gone, the coaching staff was convinced that Bradie James could take the position of the departed DeMeco Ryans. There were some glaring issues in the second preseason game with James' play and concern is brewing among fans with his performance. Tim Dobbins and Mister Alexander look like they are bringing more to the field right now than James, but it feels like it might be a sink or swim situation with the defensive staff with James.
A bit slow and looking like he has no initial pop when he makes contact with ball carriers, James has plenty to prove in the 3rd preseason game. If he can't prove to be just as good as what Ryans brought to the Texans last season, minus the salary dump, it might be a move the team could regret.
The Veteran vs. the Rook
One of the more important decisions that could ultimately affect the Texans' season is the kicking position. With veteran Shayne Graham and the rookie Randy Bullock going head to head in a pretty even competition, it will come down with who the Texans have the most "trust" in. We have said this plenty of times, the Texans will do everything they can to let their draft pick in Bullock win the job. If it stays even like it has with no real leader, the nod will go to Bullock.
The competition will go as far as it can, probably up to the final cuts when the roster has to get to 53 players.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak has been singing the praises of rookie quarterback Case Keenum. Where Keenum ends up will either be on the practice squad or the third string quarterback. Keenum has gotten better since the first day of camp and the improvement has been visible as training camp has progressed. Will Keenum beat out John Beck for the final spot, or is Keenum's spot entrenched with the practice squad? Either way, Keenum "should" have a place with the Texans, but his final destination is still up for debate.