Houston Texans 2013 Training Camp Preview
Houston Texans 2013 Training Camp Preview
The Houston Texans would be lying to give off the impression that the window isn't closing.
Throwing money at an aging star like Ed Reed gives off the vibe of a team that knows the championship window closes eventually. That's urgency.
The first two years with Matt Schaub at quarterback saw Houston make dramatic improvement but still sit outside the playoff picture. The last two featured a team that looked the frontrunner around midseason before fizzling out down the stretch. They'll obviously need to reverse this trend to go deep in 2013.
Last season concluded on a 41-28 thumping by the New England Patriots where the Texans looked massively outclassed, much like they did in the regular-season rout against New England.
“I don’t have any doubt that the Houston Texans will win a championship,” said head coach Gary Kubiak, via CBS Houston, after exiting in the NFL divisional round for the second consecutive years. “We’ll get over this and we’ll go back to work, and I think the future’s very bright.”
The run to championship glory all starts in Texans training camp as Houston's veteran signings and rookie additions mesh while key veterans move into different roles.
This is probably Schaub's last shot in Houston despite being the most successful quarterback in franchise history by miles. TJ Yates backs him up, though he's probably no heir apparent.
This has been the most run-heavy offense in the league over the past couple years and there are plenty of snaps to go around between Arian Foster and Ben Tate, with some left over for those battling behind — especially if Foster's offseason health issues turn into missed time in the regular season. Ex-Jag Deji Karim, Ray Graham, Dennis Johnson and rookie Cierre Wood compete in camp.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Andre Johnson remained an elite receiver last season yet is on the wrong side of 30. First-round rookie DeAndre Hopkins will be relied on not only as the future No. 1 but a receiver to finally draw attention away from Johnson, as Devier Posey, Lestar Jean, Alan Bonner and Keshawn Martin seek the additional snaps, which will probably be meager given that Houston ran 3-wide less than any team in the league last year.
Houston has managed to diversify its passing attack over the years thanks to receiving threats at tight end, led by Owen Daniels. Garrett Graham could also find significant playing time with James Casey's departure.
Some say the star of "Cheers" was the bar, not Ted Danson. The Texans' zone-blocking scheme has befuddled defenses for years and remained effective in 2012 despite losing the entire right side. However, you could argue the right-side platoon anchored by right tackle Derek Newton really held them down. It could be down to youngsters like tackle Ryan Harris and guard Brandon Brooks to salvage this side, while the left side remains superb with elite players in tackle Duane Brown and center Chris Myers, along with guard Wade Smith. Thanks to the scheme, it should be an at-least decent unit.
JJ Watt defends his Defensive Player of the Year belt and fellow 34 end Antonio Smith ranked second at his position in Pro Football Focus' pass-rushing grades for 2012. Earl Mitchell and Terrell McClain battle for snaps at the nose while Wade Phillips will almost certainly look for ways to work in Jared Crick.
It will be interesting to see how Phillips schemes the linebacker spot, as it's noticeably weaker than any other spot on roster. Brian Cushing is an excellent player but has shown trouble staying on the field. There's talk of Brooks Reed moving inside on most snaps while Whitney Mercilus comes off one edge and rookies Trevardo Williams and Sam Montgomery battle for the other.
Losing safety Glover Quin seems like an under-the-radar move that could end up hitting this defense hard. Quin provided the requisite versatility for Phillips' defense and this came crucial in their dime packages. Reed joins the group but doesn't offer everything Quin did and is probably over the hill, albeit one that could serve purpose in a center-field role. Danieal Manning remains as a key cog and rookie DJ Swearinger could work in as well.
At cornerback, Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson comprise one of the league's best CB tandems. Brice McCain, Roc Carmichael and Brandon Pleasant will battle to fill out the back of the rotation.
Houston hauled in one of the league's great all-time punters in Shane Lechler and trots out the heavy-legged Randy Bullock at kicker. Keshawn Martin seems a good bet to retain the returner duties he claimed late last season.