Texans Training Camp Preview: Offensive Line
Jan 5, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans tackle Duane Brown (76) guards Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson (93) during the first quarter of the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
No matter what or who the Houston Texans bring to the table this upcoming season, none of that will matter unless their offensive line is playing in sync with each other.
The current starters entering camp are Duane Brown (left tackle), Wade Smith (left guard), Chris Myers (center), Ben Jones (right guard) and Derek Newton (right tackle).
To show how well the Texas’ offensive line did their job, they blocked for the eighth-ranked rushing game in the league in ’12, making them one of the better offensive lines in the NFL. The unit blocked for Arian Foster, who rushed for 1,424 yards and allowed quarterback Matt Schaub to throw for 4,008 yards. He was sacked 27 times.
The offense was ranked seventh overall in the NFL last season, with the unit blocking for seven 100-yard rushing games for Foster last season.
This offseason, Brown (6-4 320) had minor surgery to repair a bone spur in his ankle. He started in 16 games this past season (a season where he was selected to his first Pro Bowl) and will be entering his sixth year in the NFL.
The former first-round pick was also a first-team All-Pro in ’12 and second-team All-Pro in ’11, as he’s blocked for four 1,000-yard rushers. One stat for Brown that stands out is he’s been called just twice for holding in 76 career games.
Next to Brown is Smith (6-4, 301), who enters his 11th season in the league. The 32-year old was a third-round pick in the ’03 draft by the Miami Dolphins. Smith was a ’13 Pro Bowl selection, starting all 16 games for the third consecutive season. Smith has played for the Texans since signing with the franchise in ’10 as a free agent.
The center is Myers, who at 6-4, 288 will be playing in his ninth season, as he was drafted in the sixth round of the ’05 draft as the 200th pick by the Denver Broncos.
Myers is a two-time Pro Bowl selection in ’12 and ’13, joining the Texans in ’08. He’s played in 80 consecutive games at center and has 96 straight stats, playing in a total of 121 games the past eight seasons.
Jones is a 24-year-old who started at the right guard spot. At 6-3, 308, Jones is a second-year player out of Georgia who was drafted in the fourth round by the Texans in the ’12 draft as he was the ’12 Texans Rookie of the year.
Looking to take the right guard starting spot is Brandon Brooks, who has lost 30 pounds since last season. During OTAs, Brooks was working as a starting right guard. He played in six games last season.
Newton is a 6-6, 330-pound right tackle. He’s currently first on the depth chart for the Texans as he was drafted in the seventh round by Houston in the ’11 draft out of Arkansas State.
Newton made his first career start last season as he was the starting right tackle in the season opener against the Miami Dolphins.
Listed second on the depth chart headed into camp are one-year player Nick Mondek (LT), two-year player Cody White (LG), one-year player Tyler Horn (C) and rookie Brennan Williams (RT).
Williams was placed on the physically unable to perform list by the Texans this week due to a new injury, as reported by the Houston Chronicle. He was drafted this past April in the third round (89th pick) out of North Carolina.
“Brennan was a guy that we targeted early in the draft, in the process,” Texans offensive line coach John Benton told houstontexans.com in April. “He impressed us off of film. He’s a big man; he’s got long arms, two big things that you look for. He’s really a pretty good athlete from that standpoint, but I really liked his play style. I thought he fit what we did.”
Also on the offensive line roster are: Andrew Gardner (fourth year), Alex Kupper (rookie), Ryan Harris (sixth year), David Quessenberry (rookie) and Bryan Collins (rookie).
Last season, Gardner played in three games, while being inactive for 13 regular-season games and the postseason.