The NFL is a tough league to predict, and every year something completely unexpected happens. Just a few years ago a perfect example of the unexpected twists and turns took place with our very own Houston Texans.
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In 2010 the team drafted Auburn running back Ben Tate in the second round, 58th overall, with the expectations of him becoming the lead back. Tate broke his ankle in the first pre-season game and never played a snap his rookie year.
Enter the undrafted kid from Tennessee who was brought in the year before, Arian Foster. The less heralded running back racked up 1,616 yards with 16 touchdowns and added another 66 receptions for 604 yards and two touchdowns.
Tate is now a free agent after spending time with Cleveland, Minnesota and Pittsburgh in 2014. As for Foster, he is the all-time yardage leader in Texans’ history and coming off a season with over 1,200 yards on the ground and another 327 through the air with 13 combined touchdowns.
Examples such as this could be found for just about every team and with the overhaul of the Texans roster over the last couple of seasons, it is highly likely that a dark horse player could make his way to the front of the depth chart for the Texans. Here are a few names I believe have a shot to surprise some people;
Aug 23, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Houston Texans defensive back Eddie Pleasant (35) tackles Denver Broncos wide receiver Isaiah Burse (19) after a punt in the first quarter of a preseason game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Safety, Eddie Pleasant
Pleasant hasn’t seen the field much at all since joining the Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2012. In three seasons he has posted only 28 tackles. Yet, with the changes at safety, Danieal Manning, Kendrick Lewis and D.J. Swearinger are all gone, this is a perfect opportunity for a young guy like Pleasant to plead his case for playing time.
He played safety and linebacker while at Oregon and posted 7.5 sacks and four interceptions in his career, with three of those picks coming in his senior year.
Aug 21, 2014; Englewood, CO, USA; Houston Texans linebacker Justin Tuggle (57) catches a pass during scrimmage against the Denver Broncos at the Broncos Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Linebacker, Justin Tuggle
The man with NFL in his bloodline, Justin Tuggle is the son of former Atlanta Falcon linebacker Jessie Tuggle and the brother of a current Falcon rookie defensive tackle Grady Jarrett.
With 39 tackles and an interception in 2014, he flashed some potential, and with the injury history to current inside linebacker Brian Cushing, Tuggle may get more opportunities to shine than the team expects.
Aug 19, 2014; Englewood, CO, USA; Houston Texans receiver Travis Labhart (19) stretches during a scrimmage against the Denver Broncos at the Broncos Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Receiver, Travis Labhart
Another undrafted kid, Labhart is entering his second season in the league and so far has been impressing people with his work this offseason. Labhart only played one season at A&M, so he is incredibly raw when competing with top talent, but he still posted 51 catches for 626 yards and eight scores.
The 5’9″ 180 pound receiver also returned five punts on the season with an average of just over 11 yards per return, so the fact that he has shown some ability (albeit limited) there, that could be a plus as well as the team looks to fix their porous return game.
Dec 14, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Chris Polk (32) runs for a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half at Lincoln Financial Field. The Cowboys defeated the Eagles 38-27. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Running Back, Chris Polk
Polk has two ways to make a huge mark on this team as he is a running back, but has been more successful in his three-year career as a kick returner. In 2014 he had 11 returns for 340 yards and a 102 yard touchdown run.
He had limited chances to run the ball in Philadelphia, which makes sense because he was behind LeSean McCoy. Still, he has posted an average of 4.7 yards per rush in his career and had back-to-back 1,400 yard seasons to finish his collegiate career at Washington.
As for running the ball, Foster has missed 11 games in the past two seasons, so Polk there may be some potential for Polk to get on the field more than he did while in Philly.
I want to know what player the fans believe has the best chance to be a breakout player for the Texans in 2015 Take part in our poll and please comment below if there is a player I may be overlooking.
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