Aug 31, 2013; Troy, AL, USA; Troy Trojans wide receiver Chandler Worthy (16) carries the ball as UAB Blazers cornerback Jimmy Jean (7) pursues him at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
The Texans were thoroughly outperformed in all aspects of special teams in 2014 and their returning statistics were pretty bad to say the least. The punt returners for Houston had an average of 6.1 yards per return compared to their opponents 12.4 average. On kick returns Houston averaged 21.2 yards per run back while surrendering 26.0.
The Texans brought in former Philadelphia running back, Chris Polk this offseason and he has a legitimate shot at becoming the primary kick returner for the Texans. he averaged 30.9 yards per return last season and had one touchdown for Philly.
The Eagles had more than enough capable guys to return kicks, but the same cannot be said for Houston. This fact gives Polk a great edge over Damaris Johnson, who had the best average for returners with 22.7 on only six returns.
My personal favorite for winning the job however is Chandler Worthy, the undrafted kid from Troy University. The 5’9″ 173 pound receiver had an average of 23.7 yards on kick returns, but to make the team Worthy will have to show he can also return punts, something he never did in college.
Aug 16, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver Travis Labhart (19) makes a reception as Atlanta Falcons cornerback Robert McClain (27) attempts to make a tackle during the third quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Speaking of punt returns, receiver Keshawn Martin was the top punt returner, but his stats were less than stellar as he averaged only 6.2 yards per return. Johnson had nine punt returns as well but he also was underwhelming with six yards per run back.
Other players on the team like the rookie Mumphery seem to have a shot to really help out on special teams as they could use someone with his toughness to limit opponents returns. Mumphery could also help his own case for making the roster if he can prove to be a factor as a return man.
While he never returned kicks in college, the fifth round pick has the build of a running back and can break a few tackles from time to time. He did run the ball 14 times for 125 yards which showcased some of his ability to see the field well.
Another player who can try and make their name in special teams include Travis Labhart, who had five punt returns for an average of just over 11 yards per carry.
Labhart and Mumphery both have to make their name on special teams to be considered for the roster considering how packed the position has now become for the Texans. Although the same can be said about each receiver mentioned in this section.
All these position battles will play out throughout the course of the training camp and preseason. The best part for all of the fans is it can all be seen unfolding in great detail on ‘Hard Knocks.’