Houston Texans: Five camp battles to watch

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Jun 12, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Mallett (15) talks with media after practices during OTA at Houston Methodist Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

We all know that the Houston Texans will have a quarterback battle on their hands when camp opens the last week of July. Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer will compete with one another to win the job at the team’s most important position, but there will still be other battles to keep an eye on during the camp and preseason games.

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Fans of the Texans will be treated to these battles in a special way as the team is being featured on the popular HBO series, ‘Hard Knocks.’ The extra cameras will help the fans get a good look at how each player is performing as they fight for a roster spot, or even a starting spot.

The first position to keep an eye on is another offensive spot of importance as a few guys are vying for an open job at wide receiver.

Oct 12, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver Nate Washington (85) celebrates making a first down against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Wide receiver

Obviously this position is set in terms of who the number one guy is with DeAndre Hopkins lining up as the top receiver. After that there are several guys competing for the opportunity to be the number two and three guy respectively.

The Texans brought in veterans Cecil Shorts III (from Jacksonville) and Nate Washington (from Tennessee). They also drafted Arizona State receiver Jaelen Strong in round three and Michigan State wide out Keith Mumphery in round five.

Washington and Shorts seem like a logical choice to get plenty of time due to their experience in the NFL. Both have had some very good seasons for divisional rivals of the Texans and could be nice compliments to Hopkins.

Washington averages 15.3 yards per catch for his career, and while his numbers were down in 2014, he still was above his career average for yards per reception with 16.2.

Shorts broke out in 2012 and had an average of more than 17 yards per reception, but that number has come down considerably for him, all the way down to 10.5 this past season.

Shorts has the look and make up of a slot receiver who can find yards over the middle and help open things up for Hopkins and company. He also has the skill to start out wide and move in to the slot position when the third receiver comes on the field. The biggest factor working against Shorts for the number two spot is his injury history as he has never played a full 16 games.

Washington on the other hand has played in every game since 2006 after appearing in only one as a rookie in 2005. He seems a logical choice to start out wide opposite the youngster Hopkins, especially considering his ability to stretch a defense.

However, the rookie Jaelen Strong was valued a lot higher than the third round where Houston picked him up. At 6’3″ and 217 pounds he is bigger than both Shorts and Washington and looks the part of a prototypical possession receiver.

The rookie has a real shot of unseating either of the veterans if he is able to put together a good camp and make some noise in preseason games. Perhaps all receivers have a good showing and outside of Hopkins there could be a receiver by committee situation going between the next three players.

Next: Can anyone step up at tight end?