On Monday, the Houston Texans open their 2013 OTAs and more football news to come out before training camp opens. The Texans have 10 practices that make up OTAs on the following dates:
May 20th- May 21st, May 23rd (Practices 1-3)
May 27th- May 29th (Practices 4-6)
June 3rd - June 6th (Practices 7-10)
A new season is upon Houston and, with rookie mini-camp in the books, the Texans will introduce their veterans into the mix with the rookie group. There are few story lines that will be worth a follow heading into this week.
Ed Reed (Hip), Darryl Sharpton (Hip) and Derek Newton (Knee) are some of the biggest issues moving forward. Sharpton has not been cleared by doctors, Newton is expected to miss OTAs (but ready for camp) and the Reed rumors are flying around about the time-table with his hip. All three are pieces to the Texans' 53 man roster but the injuries are a little unsettling.
Foster Has Been Quiet
Arian Foster has been quiet of late and went on a twitter hiatus. He has said recently that he is more focused on the job at hand for the Texans in 2013. Foster carried a big workload (405 carries in the regular and post season) and the spotlight will be on him not to hit a decline in production. There have been signs pointing to a new offensive line or no true fullback, but Foster didn't look the same as a runner. Now teamed with a new fullback in Greg Jones and an offensive line who will be together for the second season, Foster has all the tools now to succeed.
J.J. Watt Needs Help
On a defense where it felt at times only J.J. Watt was rushing the quarterback, the pass rush has to find some help. The additions of Trevardo Williams and Sam Montgomery on the edge teamed up with Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus, the team has added more speed on the edge. Antonio Smith is coming off his best sack season and with the return of underrated pass rusher Tim Jamison, the Texans' defense seems to have more pieces to rush the passer. Anyone not named Watt needs to provide help that was not there in 2012, and the combinations Wade Phillips can put together with his new group should be interesting to watch.
The Return of Brian Cushing
The defense took a downward spiral after Cushing was lost for the season with an ACL injury, but reports have him ready to return. The defense is that much better with their "Captain" on the field and he is heading into the season on the last year of his deal. Proving he is healthy is one thing, but he is playing for a new deal to keep him in Houston. It will be interesting to see how much he participates during OTAs, but it will be a good sign for the Texans to have him back.
The Offense Gets a New Addition
Now it is time to see if the addition of DeAndre Hopkins is a big enough boost to a non explosive offense. Hopkins finally gives the Texans a threat opposite of Andre Johnson, but expectations should be tempered for Hopkins. Wide receiver is one of the toughest positions in the NFL to transition to from college, but there will be big things expected out of Hopkins in Houston. It will be up to Gary Kubiak on how to use Hopkins effectively, all signs are pointing to him starting in week one.