For eight days the Houston Texans have began paving their path back to the postseason for a third straight season with their training camp practices.
Whether that actually happens we’ll know in late December or early January. Though with eight days completed in their camp, there have been things that stand out with the team, and here are five things that I’ve noticed thus far about the Texans.
1. Still no Arian Foster
Is it a good thing we haven’t seen Arian Foster on the practice field yet this camp? The answer can be yes and no.
His return date is nearing, but how much work do you want out of your star running back in practice? When you look at the roster of running backs it might be slim pickings after Foster. Reserve running back Ben Tate is sitting out practices now, while the rest of the running backs on the roster are players who’ve never played a down in the NFL, but have a certain potential.
Head coach Gary Kubiak told the Houston media following the eighth practice about Tate suffering an injury, “He’ll be fine. I think it’s precautionary. We wanted to work a lot of young players today and the minute he said he was sore, we got him out.”
Foster should be fine once the season starts as well, and it looks like the Texans’ medical staff will take their time with him. They are making sure there are no lingering problems with their No. 1 running back on the depth chart, though it seems like he’s about to return to camp soon. Patience is key with Foster, and the Texans have a few weeks to work with.
2. High expectations for DeAndre Hopkins
This could be the most important player in the camp. Why do I say this … for the simple fact the Texans must have another receiver beside Andre Johnson producing catches and touchdowns this season.
Kubick believes he’s found that player in Hopkins, and he’s not hiding the fact he drafted Hopkins to be “THE” guy opposite of Johnson this season.
“My expectations for him (Hopkins) are tremendous,” Kubiak said this week. “That’s why we drafted him. That’s why we put him in the position we put him in very quickly. He’s going to play across from a great player. I’ll always tell you, we’re going to do what we think we have to do to win.”
Does this mean the Texans only go as far as the progression of Hopkins? Not necessarily, but one must believe his progression on the field will affect the Texans in a positive or negative way depending on how good or bad the progression goes Hopkins’ rookie year. It will be better for the Texans is Hopkins’ progression in the NFL is a fast one.
3. Joe Mays: A good signing?
The depth at linebacker for the Texans this offseason improved with the signing of Joe Mays. How can’t he not help this team, especially with the health issues of the linebackers lately?
It also seems like Mays has been forgiven by the Texans, especially Matt Schaub, in terms of his his illegal hit on the QB last season when Mays played for the Denver Broncos.
The thing about Mays is he also missed games last season with an injury. The health of the Texans’ linebackers is worrisome, but if this group stays healthy, they will be a very dangerous group defensively.
4. Chemistry for offensive line
Earlier in the week I wrote an article with the headline “Chemistry key for Texans O-Line.”
Starting tackle Duane Brown spoke to the media candidly about how important for the offensive line to gain a certain chemistry, and that shows me as an observer of the team just the type of leadership the offensive line has.
Brown seems to be the outright leader of the Texans’ o-line, and it seems after a week of practice, this group will gain the overall chemistry they will need to stay one of the most productive lines in all of the NFL.
After the most recent practice, Brown said, “You like to have your ones in to get that chemistry going. Running backs have to get a feel for the linemen, get on the same page and get in sync. We’ve all played together long enough to get a good feel for each other. The main thing is getting healthy. That means more than anything to have a healthy back, back there is more than anything.”
Once the actual starting lineup is on the field, the Texans should be just fine with their chemistry with Brown as the leader of the offensive line.
5. A good week for the defending AFC South champions
Kubiak said after the most recent practice Friday, “I think we had a good week. I try to show them good examples of veteran guys that have been here every day and why they’re good players, why we can count on them.
“We try to talk to them about things they’ve got to stay away from if they want to stay in this league. That’s a constant message to young and old each and every day. It’s been a good week. We need a little break here and we’ll come back and get going Sunday.”
Besides less tweaks and smaller-type injures, I don’t think the Texans could have asked for any more this week from their practices. It will be interesting once the first preseason game is played to see where the team stands with their overall depth.
(Quotes provided by media.houstontexans.com)