Compared to teams like the Washington Redskins and New England Patriots – two big franchises biting their nails with Robert Griffin III and Rob Gronkowski still injured this offseason – the Houston Texans have come from the 2012 season fairly unscathed aside from a few nicks and bruises picked up during recent mini camps.
According to the Texans official website, several players are primed for big impact when they return in 2013. The long awaited arrival of Brian Cushing to the field feels long overdue now, and the guy who is new to Battle Red, Ed Reed, is also going to be a talking point after undergoing a sneaky hip procedure earlier in February.
But while the Texans aren’t missing any big names like an Andre Johnson or a Matt Schaub as we head towards training camps, the few guys that are injured could still be in for a rough ride early this coming season. Here’s a look at what we could see from each of them.
Wide Receiver DeVier Posey – Achilles
There’s been a lot said on Posey in the past two months. At one point it looked like he would be healthy for training camp, but Gary Kubiak put a big blanket over that rumour a week ago when he told reporters that Posey will likely return midway through the season instead.
It’s not so much that Posey is still in the thick of the ‘recovery process’, it’s that he is trying to regain some muscle memory in the tendon and strengthen it to once again run routes at full pace. There’s also a lot to be said for this kind of injury mentally, especially when a receivers’ feet are his biggest money makers, and stepping back onto the field after such a brutal injury sustained in the playoffs tends to play on your mind when you first lace up.
The best news to come from all of this though, is that Posey is still amongst the team, and still learning. Last season was Posey’s year to fit in on the roster and find himself as a rookie, and with Kevin Walter gone, there’s a space for him to slot in next to DeAndre Hopkins in years to come and learn from Andre Johnson now that he’s in his later years.
For those wondering, Posey has been at OTA’s, and is boning up on the playbook. He’ll start the year on the PUP list, but even so, when he does return there’s a chance he could place some big yards on the board with some more playing time up for grabs. Posey has also been focusing on his upper body strength, so I expect to see some added size in six months time.
Linebacker Brian Cushing – ACL
Brian Cushing hasn’t been at OTA’s so far, but should be as good as gold by training camp after a long crawl back to the team with an ACL injury.
Like Posey, Cushing has attended team activities, and sat on the sidelines trying to participate. Aside from that though, how Cushing will perform come September – when real football begins – still remains a mystery.
When it comes to competitiveness, Cushing is in the J.J. Watt category, no argument. Unfortunately, that ACL injury is a tough one, especially when you’re playing such a versatile and demanding position like linebacker.
According to various medical reports, an ACL injury ranks as the number one time loss injury in the NFL. Wide receivers and running backs are the most at risk, but linebackers aren’t far behind. Now, I’m not saying Cushing will step on to the field and reinjure himself, but the chances of a slower, much more composed Brian Cushing are on the cards.
From what’s been said of the injury, the rehab process has gone well. Whether or not he has an Adrian Peterson style recovery/bounce back season remains to be seen, but the general amount of time allowed for full ACL recovery (after surgery), is 12 months. If Cushing is playing by September, he’ll come in just a month short.
Cushing has never been a player to chalk up a ton of sacks every season, but he always ranks highly in tackles, and has played a big part in developing the Texans’ run defense in the past four years. Come November and December, Cushing could really warm up. Maybe, just maybe, don’t expect him to be at his 100%, in your face, best straight away in Week 1 though.
Safety Ed Reed – Hip
Ed Reed has been in the Posey category too. Once the overnight hip surgery that noone really knew about was done, the rehab process started, and everything looked clear for him to start in Week 1. But then again, it’s never a good idea to get ahead of yourself in this league.
All of a sudden the euphoria of signing Reed two months ago has evaporated, and since the Texans knew nothing of his hip injury during free agency, the Texans were surprised to learn last week that he could miss regular season games while he recovers.
As this news came out, it was a big surprise, but Reed has missed time previously with the Baltimore Ravens before. He’s had a long list of injuries, and the Ravens secondary managed to hold up. Still, the Texans defense was relying on Reed to not only add some leadership, but to also play on some of the AFC’s top flight guys.
The scariest part of all of this, is that Wade Phillips is concerned about Reed’s availability. To me that says that Reed may miss not only Week 1, but a few more games, and slide in towards the middle of the season.
If that’s the case, it’s hard to say what we’ll see from Reed. When he missed time with the Ravens in 2010 and only played in 10 games, Reed still managed eight interceptions and a forced fumble. Perhaps at age 34 though, that’s now a bit ambitious.
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