With Hard Knocks right around the corner, the Texans fans should get a brief introduction to the big fellas in the trenches. Offensive lineman are widely underrated to the average NFL fan and go unrecognized despite the major contribution they make. Even though most fans have no idea, the Houston Texans have one of the elite run blocking offensive lines in the entire league.
A couple years ago under ex-Head Coach Gary Kubiak, the Texans began to put together a great zone blocking scheme with athletic lineman. Arian Foster has shredded behind the big fellas and Hard Knocks will finally give the lineman the lime light they deserve.
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The Houston Texans starting left tackle in 2015 is Duane Brown. The veteran has seven years of experience in the NFL and all have been with the Texans. He was drafted in 2008 in the first round (28th overall). Brown was the second rookie to start all 16 games on the offensive line. He has earned All-Pro honors twice and has been selected to the Pro Bowl twice as well. On top of this, he is 10th in Texans brief history for most games played. In over 90 career games, Brown has been called for holding only four times and was rewarded with a contract extension in 2012.
Moving onto left guard is Xavier Su’a-Filo, who was selected in the second round (33rd overall) last year out of UCLA. Last offseason did not go as planned and was only able to start one game in 2014. He appeared seven times at guard last year and he will be one of the biggest question marks on the roster this year due to inexperience.
At center, the Texans will start Ben Jones. For his entire NFL career, he has only played guard but will slide to center after the Texans released Chris Myers due to his expensive contract. Ben Jones was drafted in the fourth round and was the Texans rookie of the year in 2012. All of his starts have came at right guard but he has 49 career starts at center during his time at the University of Georgia. Ben Jones has been described by Texans players as a character and is a prime candidate to be a star during Hard Knocks because he eats bugs on a semi-regular basis.
Next up is Brandon Brooks who will return as the starter at right guard. Brandon Brooks was drafted in 2012 with Ben Jones in the third round when Gary Kubiak was attempting to fix the big holes in the offensive line. Brooks was named the starter last year in the season opener and only missed one game due to a toe injury. Brooks is a good offensive lineman and will play a big role in opening lanes for Arian Foster once again.
The starting right guard is Derek Newton and is perhaps the biggest feel good story of the Texans offseason. Newton has only faced uphill battles during his attempt to make it big in the NFL. He was drafted in the last round in 2011 and was not active for the first two games. He earned his first start in his second season at right tackle and has a marvelous season but had to repair a torn patellar tendon the next offseason. He was still able to start all 16 games in his third season after lots of hours in rehabilitation. Finally this offseason, the Texans re-signed Derek Newton to a 5 year/26.5 million deal after he was graded as the best right tackle in 2014.