Texans Notebook: Starting Five for the Offensive Line Becoming Clear

Patrick D. Starr

A day closer to the Houston Texans kicking off their season opener, Friday marked their season practice day preparing for the New Orleans Saints.

The Texans remain busy on all fronts from working out players to getting injured players healthy and back on the field.

Here is some news and notes from the Texans day on Friday.

Notebook 9.6.2019

Three Return to Full Practice

The Texans welcomed back starting safety Justin Reid to the field which has limited him with a shoulder injury for nearly a month. Also, Zach Fulton and Carlos Watkins returned to the practice field with no limitations.

Head Coach Bill O'Brien called Keke Coutee and game-time decision for Monday Night and will workout before the game to see if his injured ankle responds.

Due Diligence on Punters

The Texans will workout players throughout the season to see players up close in preparation for injuries that will show up during the season.

Today was workouts for punters Ryan Allen and Matt Wile. Also, long snappers Carson Tinker and Christian Kuntz were helping snap at the workouts.

Allen last punted for the New England Patriots while Wile was with the Minnesota Vikings. Both veteran punters were released when cuts came down when 53-man rosters were being set.

Texans Starting Five Up Front

One of the trends during training camp was the constant shuffling of the offensive line. As training camp progressed and the preseason arrived, it was clear they were not comfortable with the left tackle position.

With injuries to Nick Martin and Greg Mancz during camp, it caused some shuffling up front causing some questions on who the exact starters would be. Now with the recent acquisition of Laremy Tunsil, the Texans have come to a direction they want to go with as their starting five offensive linemen.

"I think we have a pretty good idea of who the five will be," O'Brien said of his offensive line. "I think we've worked the five a lot that'll be the five on Monday. I really don't want to get into the details of that with you right now, but I do think we have a real good idea who that five will be."

The projected starting offensive line would be Tunsil at left tackle, Tytus Howard at left guard, Nick Martin at the center, Zach Fulton at right guard and Seantrel Henderson at right guard.

Max Scharping could start at right guard if needed, but Fulton is a full participant at practice which will give him the nod as a starter.

​Barkevious Mingo on Arriving to the Texans

Counting on Joint Practices Not the Preseason

The Texans under Bill O'Brien have gone away as much as they can playing their starters during the preseason. Deshaun Watson only got three offensive series all preseason, while J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins were limited with play.

O'Brien continues to use joint practices as his litmus test for his core players getting enough work and protecting his players the best he can.

Some of the concern with this approach is the Texans starting slow and not being ready for the season. O'Brien and the coaching staff took time to watch the sloppy NFL opener between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.

O'Brien was not phased by the opening game and is convinced the plan in place was best suited for his team getting ready for the season.

"Yeah, we watched a lot of that game this morning," O'Brien said of the Bears and Packers game. "There were a lot of penalties, turnovers, everything from special teams penalties to delay of games. It was a slugfest. That's Week 1."

O'Brien continued, "Week 1, the common themes are tackling, who tackles the best is going to have a chance to win, who commits the least amount of penalties, who takes care of the ball the best, who can take the ball away. I think the preseason's tough. I think that you make a decision, and then you try to make the best decision for the team."

O'Brien and his staff monitor players workload during camp and the preseason to prepare them for the season. HE knows there is a risk with playing core players during the preseason seen with the loss of Lamar Miller for the season against the Dallas Cowboys.

"We use GPS, we use all kinds of research to try to get our guys ramped up to be ready to play," O'Brien explained. "We have joint practices, and then we go against Dallas, and we lose Lamar (Miller). So, I think it's tough. I think that you just do the best. You try to make educated decisions in the best interest of the team and go with it, and then go out in Week 1 and just really try to be fundamentally sound."

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