Houston Texans camp: who to watch on defense

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Sep 7, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines running back Fitzgerald Toussaint (28) runs the ball at Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive linearn Louis Nix III (1) in the third quarter at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Bill O’Brien shocked a lot of people this offseason when he released a second round pick from 2013. After only two years in the NFL, O’Brien told starting safety D.J. Swearinger his services were no longer needed.

It is extremely rare to see such a high draft pick cut, but it does let the players still in Houston know that the leash they are given to learn what the coach expects does not grow because of draft status.

This is especially important for someone like nose tackle Louis Nix III to understand. He was a highly thought of defensive lineman coming out of Notre Dame, but his stock started to slip some and he fell to round three where he was picked up by the Texans.

Originally it seemed a perfect fit as the Texans should have been getting a surprisingly athletic nose tackle in the 340 pound lineman. Instead, the Texans got nothing at all in year one from the big guy as he spent the whole season injured, and now coach Bill simply wants to see if Nix can handle one practice at the next level.

Many people believe the team felt like signing the veteran Wilfork will help the young man learn how to approach the game, but at the same time the signing could really highlight the lack of faith Houston has in their young lineman.

During the training camp Nix is a player to watch to see if he can not only stay healthy and make it through the practices, but also if he begins to show some signs that he understands his job and role with the team.

If Nix shows no signs of improvement or no signs of being more durable, the head coach’s history shows he would have no problem saying goodbye and sticking with the big guy Wilfork. The team already signed a contingency plan as well in defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick, who has the size to fill in at the nose if needed.

Next: More second year questions