HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans begin the season with more than one question on offense. Deshaun Watson's status is the biggest, but it might not be alone in being impactful.
The battle on the offensive line might be something to watch with new coach David Culley bringing his run offense over from Baltimore. The "right five" must be on the field if Houston hopes to fix its 31st-ranked rushing attack.
A key to stabilizing the unit: Tytus Howard. Where he plays could decide the outcome of the team's overall protection in 2021.
“He's all over the place. He's doing a great job," Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil said. "Everybody knows how Tytus Howard is doing. He's a great guy, he’s a great player, just getting better every day.”
Howard enters his third season after being selected No. 23 overall in 2019. The first two years haven't been Pro Bowl-level success, but he has remained a stable blocker at right tackle.
Could he be on the move in 2021?
During practice, Howard has lined up in multiple positions. He's taken snaps at both guard positions and also worked a little left tackle on reps where Tunsil was taken.
Culley said it's important for players to be versatile. Maybe that's played a role in Howard testing different spots on the o-line?
“We want to move those guys around,” Culley said. “Going into training camp, we told those guys upfront we were going to have them all over the place. Basically, you’ve got to play multiple positions. We do that to see what’s the best fit. Once we get into pads, after a few days, we’ll see what’s best for them.”
Panthers Over Texans; How Bad is Christian McCaffrey Injury?
Panthers' Christian McCaffrey strains hamstring against Texans
Why Couldn't The Texans Run Against Carolina's Defense?
Houston's inability to run the ball cost them a chance to improve to 2-1
How David Culley Being Conservative Cost Texans A Victory
The Texans elected to play it safe, and it backfired on Thursday Night Football
Howard has played one game in his career outside of right tackle. That came in Week 1 of his rookie season against Green Bay. There's a chance his time inside is limited.
There's also the chance he continues to play there.
The Texans are high on Charlie Heck, the 2020 fourth-round pick out of North Carolina. Much like Howard, the former Tar Heel has seen reps at both tackle spots and worked in a rotation with the likes of Tunsil, Howard and veteran swing tackle Roderick Johnson.
Houston could be starting four new players at different positions in the trenches Week 1 should Howard play guard. Justin Britt will replace Nick Martin at center. Justin McCray, who last played for the Falcons, has worked extensively at guard with Max Sharping.
Heck likely would start at right tackle in place of Howard in that alignment. Keep in mind that Houston also has Lane Taylor and Marcus Cannon, both of whom are currently on the PUP list.
As of now, the Texans are looking to expand the run game. In practice Saturday, both runners Mark Ingram and Phillip Lindsay were able to score from inside the red zone thanks to strong protection.
“The camaraderie in the group is amazing," Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor said. "All those guys come out with the right mindset each day. They want to dominate practice. That's the attitude we need going into the season.”
If putting an emphasis on "pounding the rock" is a plan for Houston, Howard might be the answer. Wherever he lines could decide the remaining four starters — and hopefully, it creates stability at an area of weakness for the last several seasons.
CONTINUE READING: Texans QBs: 'Worst Practice Ever' From Deshaun Watson Replacements?