Aug 28, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils wide receiver Jaelen Strong (21) carries the ball after a catch during the first half against the Weber State Wildcats at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Jaelen Strong, the Texans third round pick this year, has lost 20 lbs since entering rookie camp in May. At rookie camp Bill O’Brien called out his prospect for being over weight and out of condition. It is not a rare occurrence when rookies enter camp out of shape but it is alarming when it does happen.
Offseason work outs are very important for rookies as they try to learn a new playbook, get familiar with new quarterbacks, get acclimated to a new place, and gain the trust of the coaching staff. It was not a great first impression for Jaelen Strong when he weighed 231 lbs at rookie camp.
He has responded to coach O’Brien’s criticism and has worked extremely hard to get his weight down. In fact, he now weighs less than he did at the combine in the spring. Hopefully he has taken this as his first NFL lesson. The rest of the summer will be important as he battles with Cecil Shorts and Nate Washington for snaps.
Jaelen Strong is not expected to contribute much as a rookie because Cecil Shorts and Nate Washington are NFL veterans. DeAndre Hopkins and Cecil Shorts will be the primary two-wide sets, the most used formation by the Texans. When the Texans use a third wide receiver, Nate Washington is expected to lineup wide and Cecil Shorts will slide into the slot.
The best case scenario for Jaelen Strong is he starts ahead of Nate Washington in three-wide sets early in the year and mixes in with Cecil Shorts when he needs breaks. Keep in mind that Cecil Shorts has had very serious hamstring problems similar to Arian Foster. Jaelen Strong will be asked to do a lot for a third round rookie if Cecil Shorts goes down.
Either way, I am a lot more confident now that Strong is back down to his normal weight for his rookie season. He is expected to be the long-term option as the number two wide receiver alongside DeAndre Hopkins. Before he can do that, he needs to make the most out of his limited snaps he will see in 2015.