In the final installment of the ’13 Houston Texans training camp previews, it is time to look at the special teams of the defending AFC South champions.
The special teams will have a different look this season with Randy Bullock being the new kicker of the Texans, replacing veteran Shayne Graham. Also new to the team is punter Shane Lechler, who has spent his entire 13-year career with the Oakland Raiders.
Lechler will be the holder for Bullock, a second-year player out of Texas A&M. The long snapper is Jon Weeks, who is entering his fourth NFL season, all with Houston.
Returning kickoffs and punts will be Keshawn Martin and Shiloh Keo.
Lechler will be entering his 14th NFL season with 81 punts in his final year in Oakland. He averaged 47.2 yards per punt, and his longest punt of the season was 68 yards. He spotted the ball inside the 20-yard line 21 times in ’12.
The Texans signed a very serviceable punter in Lechler. He’s punted for nearly 50,000 yards in his career (48,215) with his career-long punt of 80 yards coming in ’11, a season where he averaged 50.8 yards per punt.
Lechler has had just four punts blocked in his career, including once in ’12. Before that, his last blocked punt came in ’06. He also had two punts blocked his first two years in the league.
Bullock’s rookie season never really began last season, as the fifth-round draft pick (161st overall) in ’12 was injured with a groin injury, where he was placed on the injury reserve list on Aug. 27, 2012.
In college at Texas A&M, Bullock was a first-team All-American and was the Lou Groza Award winner (awarded to the best college place kicker).
As for last season’s kicker, Graham has since signed with the Cleveland Browns. Last season with Houston, Graham kicked a career-best 55-yard field goal in the postseason against the New England Patriots. He signed with the Browns on April 15, 2013.
In returning punts and kickoffs, the top two on the depth chart entering camp are Martin and Keo.
In his rookie season (’12), Martin returned 22 punts for 267 yards and no touchdowns, with a season-long return of 71 yards. In kickoffs, he returned 31 for 741 yards and no touchdowns, with the longest KO return being 54 yards.
Keo, in his two seasons, has had one kickoff and one punt return opportunity.