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NFL Houston Texans

Predicting the Houston Texans’ Starters of 2014

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Who Will Start for the Houston Texans in 2014?

Case Keenum Texans
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After reaching the postseason in 2011 and 2012, the Texans took a major step back in 2013. Major changes were made as Gary Kubiak was fired and Matt Schaub was released. In now are coach Bill O'Brien, formerly from Penn State, and Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was Tennessee's quarterback last season.

With the starting lineup surely to change multiple times, here are my early projections for who will start this season for the Houston Texans.

QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick

Ryan Fitzpatrick Titans
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QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick

Ryan Fitzpatrick Titans
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The quarterback position right now is a toss-up with no clear-cut starter. The job will be Ryan Fitzpatrick's to lose because of his experience in the NFL, but he will have to fend off three other capable QBs. Case Keenum was the Texans' starter for most of last year, T.J. Yates led the Texans to their first-ever playoff victory in 2011 and rookie QB Tom Savage has all the tools to be a franchise quarterback.

RB: Arian Foster

Arian Foster Texans
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RB: Arian Foster

Arian Foster Texans
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If healthy, Arian Foster is the unquestioned starter at running back for the Houston Texans, but the real intrigue is who will be his backup? With Ben Tate now starting for Cleveland, players like former New York Giant Andre Brown and rookie Alfred Blue are the front-runners, but also watch out for Dennis Johnson, who got significant time last year with Foster out. At fullback, Jay Prosch will unseat Brad Smelley in traditional formations.

WR: Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins

Andre Johnson Texans
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WR: Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins

Andre Johnson Texans
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The starters at wide receiver will also be no-brainers as future Hall of Famer Andre Johnson and second-year player DeAndre Hopkins will be starters this year. Despite Johnson's issues with the franchise and Hopkins' benching last season, both form one of the more talented duos in the NFL. The slot receiver will be Keshawn Martin with DeVier Posey as the No. 4, and Alan Bonner rounding out the receiving corps as the fifth receiver.

TE: Garrett Graham and C.J. Fiedorowicz

Garrett Graham Texans
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TE: Garrett Graham and C.J. Fiedorowicz

Garrett Graham Texans
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The Texans will feature two starters at tight end this season with Garrett Graham and rookie third-round pick C.J. Fiedorowicz. With Owen Daniels now in Baltimore, Graham takes over as the No. 1 and Fiedorowicz will start right away as a rookie. Second-year player Ryan Griffin gives the Texans a solid No. 3 tight end and one of the better tight end trios in football.

OT: Duane Brown (LT) and Derek Newton (RT)

Duane Brown Texans
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OT: Duane Brown (LT) and Derek Newton (RT)

Duane Brown Texans
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On the left side, Duane Brown is not going anywhere anytime soon, but the right side of the line presents a few question marks. Derek Newton had a poor 2013 campaign and is the likeliest starter from last year to lose his job this year, but no other contenders will unseat him to start the season. Backing up Newton will be second-year players Brennan Williams and David Quesenberry.

G: Xavier Su'a-Filo (LG) and Brandon Brooks (RG)

Xavier Su'a-Filo Texans
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G: Xavier Su'a-Filo (LG) and Brandon Brooks (RG)

Xavier Su'a-Filo Texans
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With Wade Smith not on the team anymore, second-round pick Xavier Su'a-Filo will be a Day-1 starter at left guard. On the right side, Brandon Brooks will hold down the starting role for the second-consecutive season. Behind them will be players like Ben Jones and Cody White.

C: Chris Myers

Chris Myers Texans
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C: Chris Myers

Chris Myers Texans
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As one of Houston's few consistent linemen last year, center Chris Myers will once again be the starter for the Texans. James Ferentz, the son of Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz, will be the backup, but Jones could also see some snaps there if Ferentz doesn't make a good impression.

DE: J.J. Watt (LDE) and Jared Crick (RDE)

J.J. Watt Texans
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DE: J.J. Watt (LDE) and Jared Crick (RDE)

J.J. Watt Texans
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There will be no surprises of the left side as J.J. Watt will be the starter. The right side, however, is up for debate. Veteran Tim Jamison and third-year player Jared Crick will be competing for the job, with Crick, in my opinion, winning it out. Jamison will be a quality veteran backup for both, but also watch out for sixth-round pick Jeoffrey Pagan, who played in Alabama's 3-4 defense in college.

NT: Jerrell Powe

Jerrell Powe Chiefs
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NT: Jerrell Powe

Jerrell Powe Chiefs
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Nose tackle will be a position to follow closely during OTAs and training camp with veteran Jerrell Powe and third-round pick Louis Nix III competing for the starting role. In the end, the job will go to Powe, who has experience playing under Romeo Crennel before in Kansas City. Nix will end the season as the starter, but Powe will be the starter when the season begins.

OLB: Jadeveon Clowney (LOLB) and Whitney Mercilus (ROLB)

Jadeveon Clowney Texans
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OLB: Jadeveon Clowney (LOLB) and Whitney Mercilus (ROLB)

Jadeveon Clowney Texans
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Houston's pass rush got significantly better this offseason after the Texans selected Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 overall pick. Clowney will join 2012 first-round pick Whitney Mercilus to give the Texans one of the more promising tandems in the NFL. Backing up Clowney and Mercilus will be veteran Ricky Sapp and second-year player Trevardo Williams.

ILB: Brooks Reed (LILB) and Brian Cushing (RILB)

Brian Cushing Texans
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ILB: Brooks Reed (LILB) and Brian Cushing (RILB)

Brian Cushing Texans
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After being on the outside the past three seasons, former second-round pick Brooks Reed will now slide inside to replace Daryl Sharpton, who is now in Washington. If healthy, Brian Cushing will be a starter once again, but he has been seriously injured the past two seasons. If Cushing can't hold up, look for undrafted rookie free agent Max Bullough to make some noise with Mike Mohamed providing solid depth as well.

CB: Kareem Jackson (LCB) and Johnathan Joseph (RCB)

Johnathan Joseph Texans
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CB: Kareem Jackson (LCB) and Johnathan Joseph (RCB)

Johnathan Joseph Texans
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The starting corners this season will once again go to veteran Johnathan Joseph and fourth-year player Kareem Jackson. Both players struggled last season, but a bounce-back campaign is in order for both players. Lining up as the slot corner will be Brandon Harris with players like Elbert Mack and seventh-round pick Andre Hal pushing to be the dime back.

FS: Kendrick Lewis

Kendrick Lewis Chiefs
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FS: Kendrick Lewis

Kendrick Lewis Chiefs
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After the Ed Reed project failed last season, the Texans went in a different direction this season by signing Kendrick Lewis. He was a solid player last year for Kansas City's excellent defense. Lewis was often forgotten last year due to the presence of Eric Berry, but he will make his mark in Houston. Backing up will be Shiloh Keo, who looked lost last season, and seventh-round pick Lonnie Ballentine.

SS: D.J. Swearinger

D.J. Swearinger Texans
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SS: D.J. Swearinger

D.J. Swearinger Texans
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As a rookie last season, D.J. Swearinger had some promising moments, but it was mostly overshadowed due to his propensity to be a head-hunter rather than a football player. Swearinger should bounce back, however, but if he digresses, the Texans can turn to former Miami Dolphin Chris Clemons and even third-year player Eddie Pleasant.

Special Teams

Shane Lechler Texans
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Special Teams

Shane Lechler Texans
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On special teams, the Texans will rely on Randy Bullock to handle most of the kicking duties, including kickoffs. At punter, veteran Shane Lechler will once again retain the job, but undrafted free agent Chris Boswell will push the veteran in training camp. Handling the long-snapping duties will be Jonathan Weeks, and in the return game, Martin will handle both kickoffs and punts.