Houston Texans News: Secondary battle will be interesting

Justin Reid Bradley Roby of the Houston Texans (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Justin Reid Bradley Roby of the Houston Texans (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Tough choices are ahead for the Houston Texans choices when decisions are made for the secondary.

One area of the Houston Texans lineup that draws interest as NFL training camp is around a month away is the secondary of the franchise. The Texans have some solid players, but last season the unit as a whole wasn’t the best, and this season changes have been made.

Longtime players such as Johnathan Joseph are no longer on the Houston Texans roster, and new faces such as Michael Thomas and John Reid have been added to the roster, either via free agency or the NFL Draft.

The issue for the Texans is who will be the impact players for the secondary in 2020? Which players will be stepping up and making a name for not only themselves, but for the unit as a whole? It is no secret the opposition will be challenging them this season.

The first two weeks of the 2020 NFL regular season will tell a lot about this unit because the two toughest games of the season are right out of the gate with the Texans facing the Kansas City Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens. Taking on not only Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes in Week 1, but to face the NFL MVP Lamar Jackson in Week 2, well, all that can be said is … “good luck.”

Facing those two outstanding quarterbacks and offenses to start the 2020 season is either a blessing for the Texans secondary, or the Texans news for the first two weeks could be tough to read. Currently the Texans secondary has cornerbacks Gareon Conley, Lonnie Johnson Jr., Phillip Gaines, A.J. Moore, Bradley Roby, Keion Crossen, Anthony Chesley, Cornell Armstrong, Vernon Hargreaves and rookie John Reid.

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Safeties for the Texans currently on their depth chart are Eric Murray, Justin Reid, Michael Thomas, Shalom Luani, Jaylen Watkins and Jonathan Owens. The secondary has its share of talented players who are noticeable and not-so-noticeable names, but are all still talented enough to have an opportunity at making their name stay on the 55-man roster this upcoming season.

Houston Texans News: Safeties will bring talented play and some surprises

Looking at the safeties on the roster of the Houston Texans, the first three names mentioned in Eric Murray, Justin Reid and Michael Thomas will most likely be the three safeties who are used the most in 2020 and have the most experience when it comes to playing on Sundays. There are rumors that the Texans could trade for strong safety Jamal Adams of the New York Jets, but until that happens and is official, we’ll talk about players currently on the roster.

Murry played his first three seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and last year was a member of the Cleveland Browns. In his four-year career, he has collected 15 starts (54 games played) with one interception, two sacks, 124 total tackles (98 solo), six tackles for loss and three QB hits.

Last season with the Browns, Murray allowed 12 receptions on 17 targets and had 19 solo tackles for a Pro Football Focus grade of 62.5. Murray could be the starting strong safety with a training camp competition against Thomas, so when that time finally arrives, don’t forget to take a glance over at strong safety to see what is happening.

Houston Texans News: Cornerback roster has talented players

As much as the Houston Texans have worked to repair parts of their team, one of the bigger question marks is how well will the cornerbacks play this season? There are some talented players who at times have made some big contributions to the team, and at other times have not, but that can be said about any player on the team.

When a secondary makes a mistake, it stands out more and can cause of bit of an issue if the opponent scores six points due to that miscue which was seen by all. Cornerbacks play under a very tough microscope because all eyes are on them and the opposing wide receiver when the ball is in the air. The players for the Texans who could see a lot of that scrutiny this season are the cornerbacks because nothing is set in strong when it comes to the current group.

A handful players at the position that will be worth watching earn a top spot within the unit are Lonnie Johnson Jr., Bradley Roby and rookie John Reid, a draft pick from Penn State University. Reid. These three cornerbacks all have a different spot in the secondary in terms of experience and expectations.

Roby is penciled in as a starting cornerback and has the NFL experience to back his play up because he is entering his seventh season in the league and his second season in Houston. Last season, Roby played in and started 10 games where he had two interceptions, one touchdown, forced one fumble and had eight passes defensed. Roby also collected one sack and made 35 solo tackles.

If all goes well, Roby will be starting in Week 1 for the Texans, and not only that, he’s going to have to become the leader of the secondary and make those around him better because he does have the experience. It isn’t too much to believe Roby is going to have a standout season with the Texans, and that will only help bring success to the franchise.

Lonnie Johnson Jr. keeps drawing some attention as well because with this being his second season on the roster, it is going to be a very interesting — and hopefully exciting season — for the second-year player. In his rookie season, Johnson made seven starts in his 14 appearances and had seven passes defensed. He also had 34 solo tackles, but PFF gave him an overall grade of only 36, as part of that was he allowed 33 receptions on 52 targets.

Improvement will continue to come for the second-year player Johnson, and watching his progression is what can make this 2020 Texans team fun to watch.

Another young player is John Reid, drafted from Penn State University this past April. Reid has an excellent chance to work his way into playing time, and who knows? He should challenge the veterans of the Texans for some of their snaps.

Bringing in talented rookies is good for the Houston Texans secondary because of the improvement that must be made for the entire unit to play well on a more consistent basis each and every week.

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The combination of youth and veteran experience the Texans have will make the secondary worth watching, and hopefully if a full training can take place starting in July, the Texans will surprise a few of their opponents. One thing is for certain, the battle to earn the roster spots and playing time will tell a lot about how the Texans will perform in 2020.