Houston Texans Training Camp Battle 2020: Zach Fulton in driver’s seat

Zach Fulton #73 of the Houston Texans (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Zach Fulton #73 of the Houston Texans (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

One spot for the Houston Texans training camp that is of vast importance is the battle for right guard on the offensive line.

Just a few short seasons ago, one of the very worst parts of the Houston Texans was their offensive line. Entering the 2020 season, the unit is improved, and there is even an important battle ahead before the season kicks off next month.

The right guard position of the Houston Texans offensive line consists of Zach Fulton leading the way as the returning starter of the group, but his starting role shouldn’t be a given because there are others like Senio Kelemete and rookie Charlie Heck who have a chance to impress with their play and effort given in training camp.

This will be Zach Fulton’s third season with the Houston Texans, as he’s spent his first four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs (2014-17). In two seasons with the Texans, Fulton has made 28 starts out of 28 games played.

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Fulton played in 75 percent of the offensive snaps (817) of the Houston Texans in 2018, and then last season Fulton played in 955 snaps for the Texans on offense, which amounted to 90 percent of the total snaps.

For his career, Zach Fulton has played in a total of 4,766 snaps and has just a total of 11 holding penalties, though five of those have come in the past two seasons since joining the Houston Texans. Fulton also has six false starts in the past two years, though when with the Chiefs his total in four seasons there was four false starts.

Even Pro Football Focus has graded Zach Fulton with a 52.2 grade last season, as he allowed just one sack in 2019,. That was better than the 2018 season where Fulton allowed four sacks, though his overall grade was better that season (2018) at 54.9.

Even when it comes to this right guard battle in training camp, Josh Edwards of CBS Sports gave his opinion on Zach Fulton and the current battle for the starting role in a recent article:

"“Zach Fulton is the incumbent starter at right guard but his play in 2019 was uninspiring.”"

The opinion that Fulton needs to battle for his starter’s role is true because it will not only make the right guard spot better, but it will make the entire Houston Texans offensive line better too entering the 2020 season.

Houston Texans Training Camp: Don’t forget Kelemete and Heck

Two players who will be in the midst of battling for their own role on the offensive line, even the starting role for right guard, are Senio Kelemete and rookie Charlie Heck, and both deserve their chance to prove themselves in training camp 2020.

Kelemete can play guard (right or left), but if he wants a starting role this season, he’s going to have to prove he’s better than Fulton. Kelemete played in just one game last season, but the previous season he started 14 games at left guard. That spot now belongs to Max Scharping, who is entering his second season as a second-round pick.

Kelemete played in 895 snaps in 2018 (82 percent) and has played a total of seven seasons in the league, as he’s also played for the New Orleans Saints (four years) and one season with the Arizona Cardinals.

Heck is a longshot to be the starter at guard to start the 2020 season, but he was one of just five draft picks made by the Houston Texans, so he will eventually be of importance to the roster. Heck also didn’t have a camp like rookies usually do, as in-person rookie camps this year were canceled  due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so that has to have set him back some in his progression into the NFL.

The University of North Carolina product could be used in a variety of reserve roles this season if and when needed, but like his teammate Kelemete, he’ll have to impress off the charts to be a starter in 2020, at least at the start of the 2020 season.

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As for Zach Fulton, he’s going to have to play strong in 2020 to keep the starter’s role at right guard for the Houston Texans. If he does, imagine how good the Texans offensive line can be this upcoming season, which makes the entire offensive unit better than a year ago.