When the Texans announced that Derek Newton and Antoine Caldwell would be the starters at right tackle and guard respectively many fans weren’t convinced.
Those people were proven wrong early in the season as through two games the Texans led the league in both rushing attempts and yards running to the right. However, over the last two weeks the starters were starting to be picked on by opposing defensive coordinators and a slight change needed to be made, one the Texans are fairly accustomed to: rotational linemen.
Ben Jones was drafted before Brandon Brooks in April’s draft but it seemed like, at least on paper, that Brooks would be a more logical choice to take the 45-man roster spot as he played tackle in college, but is big enough to play inside as well. However, Jones who played primarily Center in college has found himself dressing out in all three of the team’s first games.
Caldwell is no stranger to splitting time at right guard as he has done that in each of the last two seasons with former starter Mike Briesel who left via free agency this summer to Oakland. The only real surprise about this change is that he isn’t splitting time with Brooks, who Caldwell was battling for the starting job, and that he is instead splitting with Jones.
Jones has been splitting time with Antoine Caldwell at guard and has proven to be an invaluable asset as he has never let the moment get to him and has played extremely well.
Newton on the other hand, won his competition in the preseason but instead of splitting time with the guy he was battling with (Rashad Butler) he is splitting time with veteran Ryan Harris who was signed after Butler went down for the year in the final preseason game.
The combination of Newton with Harris and Caldwell with Jones has led to all four being kept fresh and ready to push a tired defensive front back and either open holes for the running backs or keep Matt Schaub from pulling grass out of his facemask.
If the Texans can right the right side of the line (pardon the pun) then they will no longer have much as a visible weakness on either side of the ball. If they can’t however, it won’t matter much how good Duane Brown and Wade Smith are as defensive coordinators will salivate at the chance to take advantage of an inexperienced offensive line.