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Grading every position
Texans re-signed OT Duane Brown to a 6-year, $53.4 million extension, including $22.08 million guaranteed.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 16, 2012
Texans fans appear to like the deal, and you don't need to be as good at watching football as Sandra Bullock to know that keeping Matt Schaub's backside clean should be a priority for Houston, who made the playoffs with third-string quarterback T.J. Yates under center last year. Brown was a second team All-Pro in 2011, and has started 60 games in his four-year career. Whoever is playing quarterback for Houston in future years (Schaub's contract ends at the end of the 2012 NFL season), he can rest assured that there is a veteran with some serious strength and agility protecting his blindside.
Texans have reached contract agreement with OT Duane Brown.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) August 16, 2012
Brown, a Texans 2008 first-round pick, was owed $2.081 million this season. Brown was recruited by Virginia Tech as a tight end, and at 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, Brown has the dexterity to fit into a "smart car." He earned second team All-Pro honors from the Associated Press last year, and has started 60 games in his Houston career, including making all 16 starts in his rookie year.
This contract leaves linebacker Connor Barwin as the Texans' most urgent unsigned player.
Mercilus, taken with the No. 26 overall pick out of Illinois, was considered to be one of the top pass rushers in the 2012 NFL Draft. However, his ability to contribute immediately has surprised even Gary Kubiak, who talked to reporters the day after the game:
"After watching the film, he was even better than I thought he was," coach Gary Kubiak said.
Coming into the NFL, Mercilus had both elite measurables (6'4 260, 4.7 40) as well as high-level college production (unanimous All-American in 2011).
And while it's a very small sample size, he has had no trouble translating that production to the next level so far, even though he is moving from the DE position in college to the 3-4 OLB spot in Wade Phillips scheme.
At just 5'5, Trindon Holliday hasn't had the impact at the wide receiver position in his career and training camp to make him a lock for the Texans roster. Instead, Holliday will have to rely on his ability as a returner to earn a spot, and he got out to a good start with a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first preseason game of the year.
Not everything has been great for the Texans on special teams, though, as rookie returner Joe Adams had a 34-yard punt return against Houston for the Panthers on Saturday. The problem, according to Marciano, was the tackling efforts of the offensive players on the team.
"We didn't wrap. We didn't wrap and the contain guy folded too early. We had him bottled up. The contain guy told me he thought he was down. He's never down. The guy made a great play."
Holliday and the entire Texans special teams unit will get more play time when they see the field on Saturday night against the San Francisco 49ers.
Brian Cushing missed four practice and spent a couple of days in the hospital after suffering from a virus earlier this week. That's why you won't see him on the field when the Texans play against the Panthers on Saturday night.
It doesn't make much sense for a proven player like Cushing to play a meaningless preseason game, when the Texans are going to learn any more about him from the experience. Just to play it safe, this injury prone yet playoff bound squad is going to sit their star defensive player.
Head coach Gary Kubiak said his first string defense is likely to get in about 15 plays against Cam Newton before the rest of the guys come in to play most of the game. This is the first season, possibly since 2002, that Houston's defense is just as coveted if not more than its offense, especially considering their turn around from 2010 to 2011 under the direction of Wade Phillips.
The Houston Texans have addressed their first injury problem of the 2012 season, signing former Carolina Panthers linebacker Omar Gaither to replace Keyaron Fox, who went down with a season-ending knee injury in practice on Wednesday before ever playing for the Texans.
Gaither is scheduled to travel with the team to Carolina for the Texans' preseason opener against the Panthers, but won't play, according to KHOU TV. Gaither spent last season with Carolina after a five-year run with the Philadelphia Eagles, totalling 320 tackles, six sacks and two interceptions in his career.
Since being drafted by the Kansas Chiefs in 2004, Fox has been a journeyman, landing with the Steelers and Redskins before being signed by Houston on July 26. He's totalled 177 tackles, one sack and one interception in his career.
Former record-setting Houston Cougar turned Houston Texan Case Keenum will get his first look as a professional quarterback in Houston, naturally. Texans head coach Gary Kubiak told the media on Thursday that Keenum won't get a look on Saturday in Carolina in favor of verteran backup John Beck, but that Keenum would get the fourth quarter of next week's home game against the 49ers (courtesy of the Houston Chronicle):
Kubiak had more praise for Keenum Thursday while suggesting that Beck needs to lift his game
"(Keenum) has made tremendous progress," he said. "Football is really important to him. He has really responded to his opportunity here in Houston. We’re all excited to see him play."
Beck and Keenum are battling for the third spot on the depth chart, as T.J. Yates is considered the de facto backup after having started much of the second half of last season while Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart battled injuries.
John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports that Texans head coach Gary Kubiak expects Cushing to attend the Texans' practice on Thursday afternoon, but was unclear if Cushing would participate. Cushing practicing seems unlikely, and McClained warned: "Don’t expect him to play in Saturday’s preseason opener at the Carolina Panthers," although the Texans have yet to officially comment.
Cushing was admitted on Tuesday with what Kubiak described as a "flu-like virus." His position at starting inside linebacker has been filled by Mister Alexander, a third-year backup out of Florida State.
Kubiak told the Chronicle on Wednesday that Cushing's involvement against the Panthers would be determined by the amount of time - if any - he could practice Thursday.
"I would hope so," he said. "We’re not going to do a whole lot in the morning. We’re going to come out in shorts, and we’re just kind of preparing for Carolina now, freshen them back up untill Saturday. If Brian’s feeling good, I’d like to see him get his work in. As you can tell, I think he’s going to be fine. If he misses tomorrow, then we’ll have to reevaluate where we’re at."
The fourth-year pro missed Wednesday's morning practice, but it's not expected to be a serious concern down the road:
Gary Kubiak told reporters that he expected Cushing back in practice this afternoon. With the start of the NFL season still almost a month away, there would be little reason to rush him back if the Texans were worried about his health.
Cushing has been an iron man since entering the NFL, with the only games he's missed in his first three seasons coming as the result of a suspension for a positive drug test.
Team gets ready for Carolina on Saturday
The Houston Texans lost two key cogs of their offensive line to free agency in the offseason, and the Houston Chronicle's John McClain profiled the likely candidates to replace Eric Winston (right tackle) Mike Brisiel (right guard).
With four preseason games, expect a hefty amount of shuffling as those two roles get filled. per McClain, the current frontrunners are veterans Rashad Butler (tackle) and Antoine Caldwell (guard), but look for second-year tackle Derek Newton and guard Brandon Brooks to get a look, too:
When asked about the combination of Butler and Caldwell after the morning practice, coach Gary Kubiak said, "They’re doing a good job. They’re being pushed really hard. Brooks and Smith are pushing Caldwell. Newton’s pushing the heck out of Butler. It’s going to be a tough call. I couldn’t make that call today."
"They’re all holding their own," Kubiak said. "We’ll see how they handle the bright lights when we start playing. Hopefully, they’re all healthy. It’s a very, very tough decision, and it’s good for our team."
If Butler and Caldwell win the jobs and work well in 2012, the Texans could have the same problem all over again, as both are on the last year of their respective contracts.
The first unofficial Houston Texans depth chart has been released and there are no real surprises prior to the team's first preseason game against the Carolina Panthers on Saturday. All of the expected starters are listed as the first-stringers out of training camp for the time being.
Paul Kuharsky at ESPN.com pointed out some things that are interesting to note, however, as far as which players are listed as second string in the very early going. First-round draft pick Whitney Mercilus is listed as a backup in the outside linebacker position, currently penciled in as second string to Connor Barwin on the weakside.
The Houston Texans are gearing up for the preseason with several notable injuries, but the good news is that Duane Brown, Andre Johnson and Kareem Jackson were back at practice today in training camp. That's good news moving forward for a team that's expected to make a major run at the postseason, and fans will get their first look soon enough.
The NFL preseason is finally here with Sunday's Hall of Fame game between the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals. The Texans start their preseason this weekend against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Here's a quick rundown on the Texans preseason:
Houston Texans Preseason Schedule
August 11, 6:00pm CT @ Carolina Panthers (NFL Network)
August 18, 7:00pm CT vs. San Francisco 49ers
August 25, 7:00pm CT @ New Orleans Saints (CBS)
August 30, 6:00pm CT vs. Minnesota Vikings
Fans breathe a sigh of relief
While the return was a good sign for Johnson, his status is up in the air for the first preseason game.
Andre Johnson took about 20 reps today. Gary Kubiak said Johnson looked good but doesn't know if he'll play Sat at CAR— Nick Scurfield (@NickScurfield) August 6, 2012
Johnson had been sidelined with a groin injury, while a lower leg injury kept Brown out and a hamstring injury held out Jackson. Brown was able to participate fully, while Johnson and Jackson were on a play count.
None of the three injuries figure to jeopardize their status for the start of the season.
The Houston Texans got an early scare in training camp when Andre Johnson was forced to leave practice. The injury, though, turned out to be a minor groin strain, and Johnson will return to the field on Monday.
"I expect him to be on the field Monday," Kubiak said. "It’s my job to put the plan together to how we bring him along next week, but I expect him to be out here."
The three players will start to prepare for the team's preseason opener with the Carolina Panthers on Aug. 11.
The Houston Texans have had multiple players miss practice time due to various injuries so far in training camp. There is some good news as head coach Gary Kubiak said that wide receiver Andre Johnson (groin), Duane Brown (leg bruise) and Kareem Jackson (hamstring) will all be back at practice on Monday.
"We've got some guys nicked up right now," he said, "but we know we're getting them back."
The Texans players are given a break with a day and a half off and will resume practicing on Monday.
Its the life and times of the 4th-string quarterback of an NFL team at training camp. For the Houston Texans and former Houston Cougar standout quarterback Case Keenum, getting reps and opportunities is the only thing that matters. For Keenum specifically, the desire to perform well when given the chance could be the difference in being a valuable asset or an afterthought when roster cuts come.
At the very least, head coach Gary Kubiak seems pleased with his project quarterback. Per the Houston Texans website, Keenum's been "up and down" thus far.
"Like today, he had three or four chances to make some touchdown throws and just misses them. If he makes them, his day is great. If he misses them, he feels like it was bad. I'm just wanting him to keep progressing. I love his want-to. This kid wants to be good. He studies very, very hard. I'm going to give him a chance to play in the preseason a great deal. I'm excited about him because I like his passion for the game of football." - Texans head coach Gary Kubiak
Keenum's fighting for the No. 3 position on the depth chart behind former Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins quarterback John Beck. T.J. Yates has solidified himself at the No. 2 spot after a strong showing in 2011 after Matt Schaub went down with a foot injury.
Sound from Gary Kubiak and players from the Saturday practice
Watt got his arm tangled up with other players during a running play on Thursday, which supposedly led to the dislocated elbow. Trainers then popped his elbow back into place (ouch) from there, but Watt hasn't returned to practice since and isn't expected to return for a while. He'll likely even miss the preseason.
But if he feels like he'll be back in the opener, or even it's the second or third game, Texans fans can't be too worried about the injury. The overall tendency to deal with key injuries is still alarming, though.
Which one player getting injured would hurt their season the most?
The news came out Thursday morning that Texans second year star defensive end J.J. Watt hurt his elbow and had to leave practice. On the heels of fellow stars Andre Johnson and Duane Brown getting hurt earlier in the week, many Texans fans were about ready to jump out of the window. After seeing the promise of last year dashed with numerous key injuries, to have this season start off the same way was extremely deflating. Fortunately, just like the injuries to Johnson and Brown, the dislocated elbow of J.J. Watt is not expected to keep him out of any regular season games.
It will however keep him out of most, if not all of the rest of training camp and pre-season which is huge for a player in his second season. However, the Texans have much better depth on the defensive line than they do at other positions like quarterback and wide receiver so it won't hurt the team in the short term. For now it appears Tim Jamison will take over Watt's position but I expect and hope to see 4th round rookie draft pick Jared Crick get a shot as well. Crick looked like a 1st round pick, almost a clone of Watt before an injury hurt his draft stock during his senior season.
More bad news came out of the Houston Texans training camp on Thursday morning when defensive end J.J. Watt suffered what was at the time an undisclosed injury to his elbow. Watt is added to the list of star Texans players to go down with injury in camp which includes All-Pro wide receiver Andre Johnson and left tackle Duane Brown.
We now know what the extent of Watt's elbow injury is thanks to information by Mark Berman, Sports Director at Fox 26 in Houston:
Gary Kubiak says DE J.J. Watt suffered a dislocated elbow. Said all the tests came back good. Said Watt will miss some time, 10 days-2 weeks— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) August 2, 2012
Gary Kubiak said DE J.J. Watt, who suffered a dislocated elbow, will be ready for the season opener against the Miami Dolphins.— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) August 2, 2012
The injuries at Texans training camp have been a bit concerning, but more so because of the team's history with injuries, rather than the actual severity of those seen this week. But the always enlightening Arian Foster notes an important point going forward: not everyone can be healthy during the season.
And to really drive that point home, few are actually healthy through the season, so it's actually better for fans and players alike to see it now rather than later. Here's Foster via Nick Scurfield:
"You're not going to go through an NFL season with everybody healthy. That's just how this game goes. It's been like that for years and it's about managing your injures. Injuries are going to happen. It's just all about how you take care of them and how your team responds to them."
On the team's injuries...
"That's football. You look around the League, I bet you there's some injures around the League already. It just happens. It's unfortunate that those important key guys to our success but luckily they weren't serious injuries from what I hear, so they're going to be able to bounce back. It's early in camp so they'll have some time to rest and get back. But as a player on this team and as a team, we just have to continue to focus and go forward."
Another Texans player was injured at training camp practice on Thursday. Defensive end J.J. Watt left the morning practice with an undisclosed elbow injury. "Undisclosed" is what the Texans went with since they don't know exactly what the diagnosis is, but Watt is likely to have his elbow X-rayed.
Apparently Watt got his arm tangled up with other players at the end of a running play, something normal and expected at his position. Watt was taken to the training room via cart, but also had trouble dealing with the heat on Thursday, as Dale Robertson of the Houston Chronicle reported.
This is the third star player this week to go down with an injury during training camp. Andre Johnson is expected back early next week after suffering a pulled groin. Left tackle Duane Brown injured his lower leg, what appeared to be his ankle, at Wednesday's practice. Brown is expected to return to practice soon.
But for a team with such high hopes, every little bruise that keeps a key guy off the field is going to be cause for concern.
For all the conversation about what the Texans are going to do at wide receiver if Andre Johnson suffers another injury-after-injury kind of season, it's pretty clear in Houston that Super Bowl talks are out the window if Matt Schaub doesn't stay healthy.
No one on the team is actually saying as much, but the Texans could've been an experienced starting quarterback away from their first ever AFC Championship game in the same season they made their first ever playoff appearance in 2011. Head coach Gary Kubiak says the Texans needs Schaub to "stay healthy and continue to push this team to another level."
Here's what Schaub had to say about his expectations for the season:
"With the pieces that we have in this locker room and the guys that we have, anything less won't be getting the job done. We took the next step as a team and the only next step after that is to get to the Super Bowl and win it. So anything short of that will be a disappointment in our eyes."
Andre Johnson didn't practice with Texans on Wednesday since he's still recovering from a pulled groin, but the superstar wide receiver did run with the team's athletic trainer Geoff Kaplan. Head coach Gary Kubiak told the media that Johnson "looked good" in his workout with Kaplan and the timetable for his return is still hopeful for Monday.
"I don't know if that's Monday, but... I think we're fine there. I know we're going to be fine," Kubiak said. "We've got some time to make up for and he knows that, but I've got to do the right thing, too."
With Johnson sidelined and the No. 3 wide receiver spot still up for the taking, there was some wide receiver shuffling at camp on Wednesday. All of the candidates for the third spot are capable, but Kubiak says none of them have separated themselves from the group just yet.
Rookie fourth-round pick Keshawn Martin received first-team reps opposite Kevin Walter, while veteran Bryant Johnson saw first-team reps as well. Lestar Jean and rookie third-round selection DeVier Posey both ran with the second team on Wednesday.
Backup Houston Texans offensive lineman Derek Newton was slow getting up during a drill in Wednesday's practice, but when he heard about Duane Brown was taken off the field due to an injury he knew at that point he needed to prove himself:
"When I turned around, I saw (Brown) getting up slowly off the ground, and I was like, ‘Man,' " Newton said. "And when he came over, they were like, ‘He could possibly have a high ankle sprain.' I was like, ‘It's time to step up. I've got to get right.' "
Texans fans took another deep breath when the news surfaced Wednesday of Duane Brown's lower leg injury at training camp. Brown bruised what appeared to be his ankle in the morning session of Wednesday's practice.
According to John McClain, Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said following the afternoon practice that Brown would have to miss a couple of practices due to the bruised "lower leg" injury, but there doesn't appear to be an official timetable for his return.
This was particularly concerning for the Texans because of their history with injuries, with a lot of their key players missing out on last season's playoff run - the first in franchise history.
But as for Brown, he seems to be as light as a big fella can be when he's going to be sitting through a few practices. Like Johnson, players of Brown's caliber are able to deal with minor injuries, so he should be fine if that's what this is.
He even tweets so.
— Duane Brown (@DuaneBrown76) August 1, 2012
#TexansNation I'm good!!!! Thanks for the thoughts and concerns!
The Houston Texans got a bit of a scare on Wednesday, as starting left tackle Duane Brown suffered a lower leg injury in practice:
Gary Kubiak on OT Duane Brown's left lower leg injury: "He got rolled up. It's always a scare. He did walk off on his own." Getting checked.— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) August 1, 2012
Brown's injury probably wasn't too serious, as he did participate in several plays before leaving the field under his own power. However, anytime a player as big as an offensive lineman goes down, there's no telling what underlying damage could be caused by the fall.
Brown, a 6'4 320 LT from Virginia Tech, is one of the rising stars in the NFL. The No. 26 overall selection by the Texans in the 2008 draft, he has started all 60 games in his young career so far while avoiding any serious injury scares.
In 2011, he was named a second-team All-Pro, and with a fairly immobile QB in Matt Schaub behind him, he'll be expected to be a brick wall on the blind side in 2012.
Houston traded Ryans to the Eagles in March, something Cushing was asked about in a radio interview with KBME in Houston on Tuesday. Cushing talked on a variety of topics, including the trade. From SportsRadioInterviews.com:
"DeMeco's pretty much an irreplaceable guy on and off the field. But we've done a good job really getting acclimated to not having him. We've had a lot of good guys step in. ... For the most part, we've just had to go next guy up. That's the kind of attitude we have around here and that's the kind of nature of the sport that we play. We can't hang our heads on who we've lost."
As for Cushing's reaction to the trade:
"Definitely shocked and a little angry. That's a player I envisioned playing my entire career with. But like you said and like I mentioned before, it's part of the business. We have a helluva GM and helluva organization that know what they're doing. You put your trust in them and that's the kind of thing that it is, it's business."
Quick take on special teams practice with sound from Gary Kubiak
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt apparently has some very big fans among his coaches. The 2011 first-round draft pick is poised to have a breakout season in 2012 and some in the Texans organization seem to be banking on him turning some heads ... and then some.
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is not only great at singing the praises of Watt, but of making a solid pun while he's at it. Gregg Rosenthal at NFL.com grabbed these comments from Phillips.
"(Watt's) going to be a bust -- not a first-round bust but a bust in the Hall of Fame," defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said Monday, via the Houston Chronicle. "The only players I've seen that can do what he can do with his intensity can be found in Canton."
Phillips compared Watt to Howie Long in terms of quickness and also gave him high marks for football smarts. The defensive coordinator believes Watt is on his way to becoming a "megastar." Texans fans will certainly hope Phillips ends up being correct.
Every time Andre Johnson goes down with an injury (which has been often over the past year or so) it gets micro-analyzed by everyone, even if he goes down on the second day of training camp. To be clear, Johnson has had the kind of career that indicates he doesn't need a lick of training camp to be an impact player once the season starts.
It might even be worth it to the Texans to rest their star wide receiver in camp, but that would be absurd for this lunch pale/hard hat kind of group. Gary Kubiak said on Tuesday that he expects Dre to return to the field next week, and hopefully Monday:
Gary Kubiak on target return date for Andre Johnson: "I hope it's Monday, but I would say next week."— Nick Scurfield (@NickScurfield) July 31, 2012
The Texans signed defensive end Mitch King on Monday after releasing undrafted rookie free agent Tracy Robertson on Sunday. As part of a new provision in the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, there is a three-day acclimation period before players can practice in pads after being traded, so Robertson won't hit the field with his new teammates until Wednesday.
Gary Kubiak had this to say about King:
"We liked him coming out of college. He's a try-hard player. He reminded us a little bit of Tim Bulman, who we had here for a few years."
Texans fans admire try hard players, since the team is full of them. But usually it's better to hear what the player does well than how hard he tries. Signing King brings the Texans roster to 89 men, so if he sticks around, he adds depth at the very least.
Everyone can feel the energy in Houston. The anticipation for the Texans season is nothing like it's ever been before. Same goes for the expectation. They're talking Super Bowl around town, in the media, everywhere.
So it should come as no surprise that SB Nation's very own Joel Thorman is picking the Texans to win the AFC South division:
The Texans will repeat in the AFC South because they'll have a healthy Matt Schaub. Think about what they did last year. Schaub only started 10 games -- he went 7-3 -- before suffering a season-ending injury. T.J. Yates, a fifth round rookie, stepped in and led them to the playoffs. Another division title should be expected in Houston.
Read more about the Texans at the Battle Red Blog and SB Nation Houston. Head over to the NFL hub page for additional news and analysis around the league. Also, be sure to subscribe to the SB Nation Youtube Channel for video commentary.
The Texans signed veteran punter Donnie Jones early in the offseason as a free agent coming from the St. Louis Rams. Jones didn't exactly have a great season in 2011, and again, he was playing with the Rams. But he's at least impressed the Houston Chronicle's John McClain at training camp, certainly a sign of better days to come, right?
P Donnie Jones, signed as FA from St. Louis, is off 2 impressive start n camp. He's coming off his worst season.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) July 30, 2012
Jones' primary role this season is to replace Brett Hartmann, who is suspended for the first three games of the season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
The Texans begin their first full-pad practice around 2:15 p.m. on Monday, with the last 30 minutes indoors.
Read more on the Texans at the Battle Red Blog and SB Nation Houston. Check out the NFL hub page for additional news and analysis around the league. Also, be sure to subscribe to the SB Nation Youtube Channel for video commentary.
Who should be number 1?
The Houston Texans think that they might have found a hidden gem in their rookie class. Undrafted free agent Jonathan Grimes has turned some heads so far.
Coaches love RB Jonathan Grimes, an undrafted FA from Bill an Mary. Fits this downhill running style.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) July 30, 2012
As a member of William & Mary, Grimes played in the underrated Colonial Athletic Association. He was an all-conference pick in all four seasons there. He ran his 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds at his Pro Day.
The Houston Texans, a team with a long history of injuries, already has one to deal with this season. Andre Johnson injured his groin on Sunday, but in terms of the injury's severity, it seems the Texans can relax a bit.
Andre Johnson said after afternoon practice he expects to miss a week with mild groin sprain.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) July 29, 2012
The wide receiver was seen walking without a limp later in the day, so it appears that everything is precautionary at this point.
The injury occurred during 1-on-1 drills when Johnson hit the ground stretching for the ball. After playing just seven games in 2011, any sort of injury to Johnson has the entire Texans fanbase nervous.
Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson left training camp with a groin injury early in Sunday's practice. Johnson missed nine game last year with various hamstring injuries and he sat out all of the off season OTAs and mini-camps after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.
Head coach Gary Kubiak pulled Johnson as a precautionary measure. The injury does not seem to be too serious and Johnson is listed as day-to-day. Johnson was taken to Reliant Stadium to get the right groin looked at further, and when asked about his injury Johnson said, "I don't know. I am going to get it checked out."
The Texans have little depth behind Johnson at wide receiver, so they are hoping that this injury is not serious and does not have any lingering affects.
The Houston Texans made a couple of moves on Friday to help sure up a couple of positions. They signed wide receiver Bryant Johnson back to the team, hoping to give a little more depth to the wide receiver position where several players on the roster according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.
Coach Gary Kubiak wanted to sign a veteran receiver to compete with Lestar Jean, DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin, none of whom has a catch in the NFL. Johnson will help provide depth behind starters Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter.
The Texans also signed linebacker Keyaron Fox to the team. Fox last year played for the Washington Redskins and has also played with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers, whom he won a Super Bowl with in 2008.
Is anyone on the roster capable of replacing Andre Johnson if he misses more time?
The nine-year NFL veteran would be someone the Texans know that they can rely on, as the Texans do not have a lot of proven wide receivers on the roster. According to Hill, Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter are the only two wide receivers on the Texans roster who have caught a pass in the NFL.
Williams was with the Chicago Bears last season, recording 37 catches and two touchdowns for the NFC North teams. Before that, Williams played two plus years for the Cowboys, catching 94 balls for 13 touchdowns. Dallas acquired Williams from the Detroit Tigers in 2008, and sent three draft picks, including a first-rounder to the Motor City.
The Houston Texans have been ranked at the "next level" in preseason power rankings from NFL.com, placing them one level below the top teams in the league. "The Texans' young defense is scary," the rankings say, "their roster doesn't have many holes."
That ranking is consistent with others given to the team prior to the start of camp. SB Nation ranked the Texans No. 5 in their preseason rankings, based on an average ranking by all 32 NFL bloggers. With the team making their first ever playoff run in 2011, expectations are high for the upcoming season. That said, they've seen changes to the roster and have a good deal of uncertainty at the quarterback position. They're certainly capable of a lot, but they'll have to stay focused to make the most of it.
Coming off the first playoff appearance, division title and playoff win in franchise history, the Texans are hot right now.
The hype around of Texans is evident in the SB Nation Power Rankings, which list the Texans at No. 5 as training camps get underway. The order was determined by ballots for all 32 SB Nation NFL bloggers with the rankings averaged out.
SB Nation's Texans blog, Battle Red Blog, is wary, given the departed players, but still expects the Texans to make a run for the playoffs again.
Coming off the first successful season in franchise history, the Texans saw 40 percent of their starting OL (Winston and Brisiel), one of their starting LBs (DeMeco Ryans) and one of the most physically gifted players in all of football (Mario Williams) depart. Oh, and their starting QB is coming off a season-ending injury. Not exactly a recipe for smooth sailing, but the Texans still boast plenty of talent, the offensive genius of Gary Kubiak, the defensive wizardry of Wade Phillips, and a division that isn't as stout as it was a couple of years ago. I like Houston's chances to make postseason noise yet again.
All eyes will be on Schaub's foot
The Texans sign rookie wide receiver DeVier Posey, who becomes the seventh of the eight draft picks this offseason to sign with the team. Posey was the third round pick of the Texans in the 2012 NFL Draft, taken with the 68th overall pick out of Ohio State. He ranked seventh in Ohio St. history with 136 receptions, and was eighth with 1,955 yards receiving in his four-year career for the Buckeyes.
Wide receiver is a position the Texans have been looking to shore up lately, with Andre Johnson showing signs of a star who can break down at times and Kevin Walter being a questionable option as a No. 2 receiver.
"I think he's got the ability to one day be a starter in this league," Texans wide receivers coach Larry Kirksey said of Posey. "I think he'll be able to contribute and be a starter in this league and be very efficient."
Training camp begins on July 28 for the Houston Texans and the team will have close to a month to figure which players should be a part of the roster.
The Texans website has outlined the dates and times for training camp:
July 28 - Camp begins; 8-10 a.m and 3-4:30 p.m.
July 29 - 8-10 a.m and 3-4:30 p.m.
July 30 - 8-10 a.m and 3-4:30 p.m.
July 31 - 8-10 a.m and 2:45-3:35 p.m.
Aug. 1 - 8-10 a.m and 3-4:30 p.m.
Aug. 2 - 8-10 a.m and 2:45-3:35 p.m.
Aug. 3 - 8-10 a.m and 3-4:30 p.m.
Aug. 4 - 8-10 a.m.
Aug. 5 - Team meetings
Aug. 6 - 8-10 a.m and 3-4:30 p.m.
Aug. 7 - 8-10 a.m and 2:45-3:35 p.m.
Aug. 8 - 8-10 a.m and 3-4:30 p.m.
Aug 9 - 8-10 a.m and 2:45-3:35 p.m.
Aug 10 - Practice closed
Aug 11 - Game at Carolina Panthers, 6 p.m. CST
Aug. 12 - No practice
Aug. 13 - 2-3:30 p.m.
Aug. 14 - 8-10 a.m and 3-4:30 p.m.
Aug. 15 - 8-10 a.m and 2:45-3:35 p.m.
Aug. 16 - 8-10 a.m and 3-4:30 p.m.
Aug. 17 - Practice closed
Aug . 18 - Game vs. San Francisco 49ers, 7 p.m.
Aug. 19 - No practice
Aug. 20 - 2-3:30 p.m.
Aug. 11 - First preseason game: @ Carolina at 6 p.m.
Houston Texans linebacker Darryl Sharpton was injured at the mid way point of the 2011 season when he tor his right quadricep. The injury cost Sharpton the second half of his season, and after months of rehabbing Sharpton says he will be ready to go once the Texans begin training camp on Saturday July 28:
...linebacker Darryl Sharpton says he's still recovering from a torn right quadriceps that forced him to miss the entire second half of last season.
"I've kind of transitioned from the training room to the weight room," said Sharpton, who made 12 tackles in eight games. "I'm definitely gotten over that hump, I'm feeling good and I'm pretty much there, ready to go."
A fourth-round draft pick in 2010, Sharpton is expected to see more playing time this season after the Texans traded DeMeco Ryans to Philadelphia. Sharpton, speaking during a break at the Texans' annual youth football camp, says he expects to be ready when Houston opens training camp on July 27.
"I've been running around, cutting, and doing pretty much everything full-speed," Sharpton said. "There's nothing like actually going out there and running into the `A' gap and blowing up a fullback. There's no kind of preparation you can do for that, so I've just got to go out there and test it."
The Texans defense was very good last year, but they did lose Mario Williams to free agency to the Buffalo Bills as well as DeMeco Ryans heading to the Eagles. So, Sharpton will need to show he is deserving of the extra playing time he will be get this season.
Rookie Randy Bullock has Pro-Bowl potential
Schaub will be back under center when training camp starts
Texans tight end Owen Daniels has enjoyed the offseason following his first healthy season in a while.
After dealing with injuries in 2009 and 2010, Daniels led the Texans with 54 catches for 677 yards as Houston went 10-6 and won the AFC South last season.
Daniels talked with the Texans official team website about his health and an offseason throwing program led by quarterback Matt Schaub, who is coming back from a foot injury.
"That's been going well," he said. "Catching a pass or two just playing catch is one thing when he was rehabbing, but he feels great. I know he's heading out (to Charlotte, N.C.) to get checked out (Tuesday) and released for good. … It's good to get that type of work in, get a little bit of knocking the rust off, so to speak, in terms of our relationship throwing and catching the ball, just a little ramping up toward camp. It's good that we get a chance to do that."
The Houston Texans weren't expected to make any sort of splash in the 2012 NFL Supplemental Draft given the few prospects available in the first place, and that's exactly how things went down with top pick Josh Gordon today. The former Baylor wide receiver was drafted in the second round by the Cleveland Browns, a team desperate for help at wide receiver as they remake their entire offense.
The Browns give up a second round choice in the 2013 NFL Draft to get Gordon, a promising 6-4, 220 lb. receiver who sat out 2011 to transfer to Utah. Unfortunately he never suited up for the Utes this season, instead choosing to go straight to the NFL despite potential character concerns after being dismissed from Baylor for possession of marijuana.
Gordon was the only player selected in this year's draft.
Star studded, two headed monster leads the teams best unit
Thursday afternoon's 2012 edition of the NFL Supplemental Draft is likely to feature a pick as high as the third round in former Baylor wideout Josh Gordon. There are eight prospects eligible, including former TCU running back Ed Wesley, if any team selects a player on Thursday, they'll forfeit that round's pick in the 2013 Draft. The Houston Texans were among many, many teams (rumored to be 21) that had scouts at Gordon's workout on Monday.
There is no television coverage; however, the event begins at 12 p.m. CT and will be monitored by NFL.com, which will announce any picks. In 2011, only one pick was made - former Ohio State quarterback Terrell Pryor went to the Oakland Raiders in the third round, likely the highest round that Gordon will go in.
The Houston Texans were one of many teams on hand for the workout of former Baylor wide receiver Josh Gordon, who is expected to the top pick at Thursday's 2012 NFL Supplemental Draft. While most of the league was in attendance (as evidenced below), the Texans could take a shot at Gordon, considering their depth concerns at receiver (courtesy of NFL reporter Adam Caplan):
For those who have been asking all day about it, here's the updated list of teams that were in attendance at Gordon's workout : #Browns, #Eagles, #Cowboys, #Bears, #Seahawks, #Dolphins, #Chiefs, #Colts, #49ers, #Redskins, #Bills, #Texans, #Patriots, #Vikings, #Saints, #Jets, #nyg, #Rams, Cardinals.
If a team takes Gordon in the Supplemental Draft, they'll lose that corresponding pick in the following year's regular draft. Gordon has predicted to be worth a third or fourth round pick.
Matt Schaub has been the starting quarterback for the Houston Texans for the last five seasons. Yet, when it comes to negotiating a long-term deal to possibly finish his career in Houston, the 31-year-old Schaub knows he isn't working with much leverage.
With the team trying to lock up their All-Pro tackle in Duane Brown and pass-rushing linebacker, Connor Barwin, Schaub, who is entering the final year of his contract, isn't very high on Houston's priority list right now.
But he also doesn't seem to be too worried about it according to NFL.com:
"That stuff, if we take care of our business, get our job done, things will take care of themselves," Schaub told Nick Scurfield on a podcast for HoustonTexans.com. "But I love the city of Houston and want to be here for many years to come. It's important for me to finish what we started here, so I'm excited about what the future holds. Right now, it's just about getting ready for camp and just keeping the blinders on and keeping the focus on the next task."
Pro-Bowler Johnathan Joseph leads a talented group.
To all my fans just wanted to let u know its been a great ride the last 9yrs but I'm calling it a career. I thank u all for believing in me!— Derrick Ward (@DerrickWard32) July 3, 2012
As indicated above, Ward is a nine-year vet of the league, the last two of which he spent in Houston. Behind both Arian Foster and Ben Tate, he had only 45 carries for the Texans in 2011. He finishes with 2,628 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns in a career that peaked with the New York Giants in 2008, when Ward ran for over 1,000 yards and averaged 5.6 a carry alongside Brandon Jacobs.
While Ward has officially announced his retirement, it's not unthinkable that he could be called into action in 2012 if a team has a sudden injury concern, as the 31-year-old is relatively healthy. Ward was expendable when the Texans signed Justin Forsett, a back who can play special teams as well.
Risky move, but the only move
J.J. Watt, according to the Houston Texans team website, expect his team to have the best defensive unit in the NFL. Watt is entering his second season with the Texans after being taken 11th overall in the 2011 NFL Draft out of the University of Wisconsin and figures to be a key piece on Houston's defensive line.
Houston finished secondt in the NFL last season in total defense and Watt fully expects them to build on that and have the number one ranked defense in 2012:
"We're definitely aware of expectations, and I think they're even higher in our room than they are on the outside world," he said. "Last year, I believed we finished No. 2 in overall defense, this year we want to be No. 1. It takes a lot of hard work and it's not going to be easy, but it's our goal and we expect nothing less."
Despite losing DeMeco Ryans and Mario Williams, this could be the best linebacker group in the NFL.
With the Houston Texans entering training camp dangerously thin at the wide receiver position, the health and performance of star wideout Andre Johnson, who missed OTAs and mincamp after athroscopic knee surgery, becomes paramount for the franchise.
John McClain of the Houston Chronicle named Johnson's health the single biggest concern for the Texans entering the 2012 season:
This is a time for Johnson to make his run for Canton. For several years now, he’s been acknowledged as one of the two best receivers in the NFL with Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald. With the Texans playing five nationally televised games this season, including four in prime time, Johnson has an opportunity to regain his spot at the head of the receiver class.
Johnson injured both hamstrings and missed nine starts in 2011 (he finished with 492 yards receiving), after a knee injury in 2010 caused him to miss three games that season. However, Johnson was healthy in the postseason, and had 13 catches for 201 yards in two games.
The Houston Texans have made significant investments in their future by locking up head coach Gary Kubiak through the 2014 season and general manager Rick Smith through 2016.
As Jerome Solomon of The Houston Chronicle notes in his Monday column, the Texans would also like to sign left tackle Duane Brown and outside linebacker Connor Barwin to long-term, cap-friendly deals before the season. But there's another important contract extension possibility to address here, and that's Matt Schaub's.
Coming off an injury-riddled season, the Texans' franchise quarterback is now entering the last season of his contract. How important is it going to be for Houston to address their long term quarterback situation?
"It means a lot," Kubiak said. "I know it's a great message to the players and everybody from Bob that he believes in what we're doing and where we're heading."
Schaub says he only wants to get healthy and return to the football field, but since the Texans are making clear efforts to plan for the future, this is going to be a looming issue until something happens with his contract.
Read more about the Houston Texans at the Battle Red Blog.
The worst kept secret inside the offices on Kirby was made official; head coach Gary Kubiak and GM Rick Smith were given contract extensions. You may take issue with the merit of the decision, but this news should not come as a surprise. Owner Bob McNair refused to fire Kubiak after 5 consecutive non-playoff seasons; what did you think would happen after not only their first trip to the playoffs, but a playoff win? Also know that McNair hates having coaches in "lame duck" status with only 1 year remaining on their deal. He subscribes to the theory that being in the last year lessens the authority a coach has; I think that belief is overblown, but it's his money. McNair told John McClain of the Houston Chronicle:
Stability is very important to me," McNair said after the three-day minicamp ended. "They work very well together. They’re committed to bringing a championship to Houston. That is our goal.
The biggest question/concern I have about this extension is; did Wade Philips actually earn it? In 5 seasons without Philips, Kubiak had a 37-43 record. It begs the question, how does 1 good season outweigh 5 disappointing seasons? The impact that Philips had on this team can't be undersold and I think Kubiak owes Philips an expensive gift for saving his job. Before last season, every active coach that had been in the league for as long as Kubiak, had either made the playoffs multiple times or been fired. What makes Kubiak special or different? In most organizations, I don't think the extensions would have been given, but this isn't most organizations. I don't think it was a horrible decision, but clearly the standard of success has been set lower here than in other organizations.
Of the two, I think Rick Smith's extension was more deserved. Kubiak has an overall losing record, but Smith has had several big drafts, even before Wade Philips. Smith had a good draft in 2008 (Duane Brown & Steve Slaton), and then great drafts in 2009 (Brian Cushing, Connor Barwin, Glover Quin, James Casey, Brice McCain, & Troy Nolan), and 2011 (J.J. Watt, Brooks Reed, T.J. Yates). On top of that, he's signed guys from off the scrap heap like Arian Foster and Wade Smith, and pulled off two huge free-agent deals last off-season with Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning.
Overall, as long as McNair doesn't let the extensions affect future decisions; I don't have a problem with it. What I mean by that, you sometimes hear owners say they can't fire a coach because of the amount of years and money they're still owed and that they don't want to pay two coaches. If the Texans tank and go 4-12 next season (not saying I think that will happen), McNair better not use Kubiak's contract status as a reason to keep him on board. No one forced him into this decision, if he doesn't make future decisions purely on what happens on the field; he'll deserve a ton of criticism. If McNair treats this just as a PR type move like it should be, then this will end up being a nothing story.
The Houston Texans just announced contract extensions for Head Coach Gary Kubiak and General Manger and Executive Vice-President, Rick Smith. Both men's contracts were set to expire at the end of the 2012 season.
But since the Texans had gone 2-14 prior to Kubiak and Smith's arrival in 2006, Houston has made steady prigress towards legitimacy and made the playoffs for the first time in the organizations history in 2011 while winning the AFC South title in the process.
The Houston Texans website has more on McNair's reasoning for re-signing his coach and general manager:
"We think stability is extremely important to the success of this team," Texans chairman and CEO Bob McNair said. "I'm real pleased with the leadership group that we've got."
"We think that this is an outstanding group of men, and I think we're going to see a lot of success for the organization as a result of having them in place for an extended period of time," Bob McNair said.
According to Scout.com, the Houston Texans have signed fullback Moran Norris. This will be Norris' second go round with the Texans. He last played in Houston from 2002 to 2005, starting 18 games over that span.
The 33-year-old back last played for the San Francisco 49ers.
He has rushed for 67 career yards and one touchdown.
While in San Francisco, Norris lost his starting job to an unproven rookie in Bruce Miller. The Texans have two rookie fullbacks on their roster in Jason Ford and Derrell Smith but are hoping that Norris will be the guy who will clear the way for their superstar running back, Arian Foster, this season.
In the wake of the team's first-ever playoff run and division title, the Houston Texans have extended the contracts of the team's key architects, head coach Gary Kubiak and general manager Rick Smith:
Texans gave Gary Kubiak and Rick smith extensions today.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) June 14, 2012
The details of each extension, including the length and amount, are unknown at present time, but the Texans are expected to speak publicly Thursday afternoon after minicamp practice ends.
The move has been predicted for month, as owner Bob McNair acknowledged that a reworking of the deals was going on last month. Both Kubiak and Smith were entering the last year of their contracts with the team. Both have been with the franchise since 2006, and only five other NFL coaches have a longer tenure than Kubiak. As for a reaction, SB Nation Texans blog Battle Red Blog approves:
It took longer than any Texans fan would have liked, but Smith and Kubiak have built and developed a deep roster that has a Super Bowl window open for the Texans. In his six years as head coach, Kubiak has a 47-49 career record with a 1-1 playoff record. The record isn’t indicative of the job he did during last year’s division championship run which had him keeping a locker room together as injuries depleted their ranks.
For those who like making comparisons, Bill Belichck had a 41-55 record at this point in his career while also going 1-1 in the playoffs. In his seventh coaching season, Belichick led New England to a Super Bowl championship. I’m not saying, but I’m just saying.
The Houston Texans' receiving combo of Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter are as solid a 1-2 combination as you could find in the league, but the team has not a single career reception at the receiver position on the entire roster after Johnson and Walter.
Hence veteran and current journeyman Mike Sims-Walker, who put up solid numbers for the Jacksonville Jaguars and spent 2011 with the Jags and St. Louis Rams while battling multiple injuries (quote courtesy of the Houston Chronicle:)
"He looked pretty good," Kubiak said. "Obviously, jumping out here for the first time in this heat that we’re having, it’s pretty tough. But I thought he did some good things. We’ll go back and take a look and watch all the periods and see how he did."
Sims-Walker was at his most effective in 2009 and '10, totaling 106 catches, 1,431 yards and 14 touchdowns. He, along with three other players - former Texans fullback Moran Norris, most recently on Detroit's roster, rookie defensive end Keith Browner of California and former Baltimore linebacker Prescott Burgess - will undergo a three-day evaluation before the staff decides if they'll be added to the training camp roster.
JJ Watt leads an underrated group
The Houston Texans begin their three-day minicamp at the Methodist Training Center Tuesday with mostly the young, up and coming players participating in on-the-field drills, while the veterans spend time with strength and conditioning coach Cedric Smith.
This is a chance to get in more work for the young Texan receivers, who while inexperienced, will be expected to have in an imprint on the team's season. These minicamp sessions will give Houston coaches a chance to evaluate the young talent without them having the veterans on the field to hold their hands through drills.
This is what Texans head coach Gary Kubiak told Sam Khan Jr. at The Houston Chronicle:
"I like the ability, as I've told y'all all along," Kubiak said. "Bottom line, none of them have been in games, and so that's going to be a concern until we get going.
"The picture looks different when Andre is out here and Kevin is out here and you have those veterans leading the way. Throughout the course of these OTAs, it's strictly young guys. That's a concern. It's something we'll continue to address with our team as we move forward."
Read more about the Houston Texans at the Battle Red Blog.
Houston Texans starting quarterback Matt Schaub has sat out the past 10 OTAs while recovering from a lisfranc injury that he suffered last season and required surgery in November. Schaub also will sit out next weeks mini-camp along with multiple veterans to allow rookies and new players to get a feel for the playbook.
Sitting out these past OTAs were just precautionary as Schaub said that he is 100 percent and could have been on the field participating with his teammates. More importantly Schaub will be good to go once training camp open up in July, but at these OTAs and mini-camps Schaub has been an observer.
Schaub did like what he saw from his teammates during the practice sessions:
"I thought that was good work by everybody," he said. "I think everyone got better, improved on what we were trying to work on, we're ready to take the next step to training camp and get ready to go for the season."
For more on the Texans off-season, check out Battle Red Blog.
With Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter not participating in the Houston Texans' OTA's, the team is dangerously thin at WR, a need that was exposed last season when Johnson suffered the first major injury of his career.
As a result, Houston could need the two Big Ten WR's they selected in the middle rounds of the NFL draft, DeVier Posey (Ohio State) in the third and Keshawn Martin (Michigan State) in the fourth, to contribute immediately.
According to WR's coach Larry Kirksey, Martin is slightly ahead of Posey at this point:
"We're throwing a lot at those two guys," Kirksey said. "Keshawn's had more opportunities to make plays. But I think they're both going to be fine. It's just a learning process for both of them right now."
Martin, a 5'10 190 WR who caught 66 pass for 777 yards and 4 TD's last season, could also double as a punt returner, something Houston will need after they cut Jacoby Jones in the off-season.
For more on the Texans off-season, check out Battle Red Blog.
Strengths, Weaknesses, & potential camp battles
While there is only a week left of OTA's, the Houston Texans are still trying to round out the end of their roster, as the team brought free agent CB Alan Ball and RB Justin Forsett into camp this week.
Ball, a sixth-year CB out of Illinois, has extensive experience in defensive coordinator Wade Phillips from his time in Dallas, where he spent the first five years of his NFL career.
The 6'2 200 Ball started 16 games for the Cowboys in 2010 but did not distinguish himself with 46 tackles and 2 interceptions. Dallas moved him into a reserve role for the 2011 season, where despite the complete collapse of their secondary, Ball only managed to start 2 games.
Forsett, a sixth-year RB out of California, has never managed to carve out a consistent role in five seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks. In 2011, he rushed for 145 yards on 46 attempts with 1 TD for Seattle.
For more coverage of the Texans offseason, check out Battle Red Blog.
"It's a concern. But I like the ability we have on the team right now with the group and we've come a long way just in five days. Guys that have been on the big stage, this group hasn't but it's got the ability to go out there and do it. Lestar (Jean) is acting like a dang good player out here every day, so we just got to stay committed to them. But we'll continue to look, we'll continue to watch some of these guys that are out there and see what happens through the first of June. But we got to stay focused on this group because this might be what we go to camp and then the season with. We'll work and gotta get it done. That's our job."
Andre Johnson's lingering hamstring injury last season exposed the lack of depth the Texans have had on the outside for a few years.
However, in his comments, Kubiak did praise third round pick Devier Posey out of Ohio State as well as third-year WR Trindon Holliday. But, given that WR is one of the toughest positions to transition from out of college, it could be another barren year opposite of Johnson in 2012.
The Houston Texans dipped into the undrafted free agent pool following the 2012 NFL Draft to attempt to add more depth to their wide receiver position. They signed free agent Dwight Jones from the North Carolina Tar Heels on May 7. It appears Jones' time with the team may already be at an end.
Mark Berman at Fox 26 in Houston reports that Jones has informed the Texans he no longer wishes to play football. Battle Red Blog has more information on this development. The Texans have confirmed that the receiver has missed OTAs but have not yet confirmed that he has quit the team.
Jones was initially projected as a sixth-round draft pick, but the scouting report indicated that he still needed to improve several aspects of his game before becoming NFL-ready, so he went undrafted. He racked up over 1,000 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in his last year at North Carolina.
For all news and information regarding the Houston Texans, please visit Battle Red Blog.
When Case Keenum signed with the Houston Texans, many people believed it was the team's way of doing a favor for the local player. But recent comments from Gary Kubiak make it seem like the organization might give Keenum a shot down the road.
"He’s well on his way to learning what he’s doing, so I’m very pleased. I’m excited to work with him. I think he’s got a future. We just got to take it a day at a time."
The knock on Keenum has been that his experience in college came out of the shotgun, and he's a little too small to play quarterback (he stands at 6-0 5/8). Kubiak, though, compares him to another smaller quarterback.
"You learn to throw through windows. I saw one of the greatest small quarterbacks in (Doug) Flutie do it for years."
Keenum has been able to get a lot of reps in OTAs because of Matt Schaub's injury.
For all the latest off-season news and notes on the Texans, check out Battle Red Blog
Does it matter? What positions are open to a battle?
The Houston Texans quarterback-wide receiver combination of Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson were spectators at the Texans first full-squad practice on Monday, but both are expected to be ready for training camp.
In fact, Johnson told longtime NFL writer John McClain that he expects to be 100 percent by training camp, despite a couple bumps and bruises he's still recovering from.
WR Andre Johnson is a spectator at OTAs after getting scope on right knee 2 1/2 weeks ago. Plans 2 b ready by camp.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) May 21, 2012
As expected QB Matt Schaub watched OTA while rehabbing his right foot. Will b ready by start of camp.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) May 21, 2012
McClain actually followed up the Johnson tweet by noting the scope was on his left knee, not the right.
Lestar Jean, an undrafted free agent whose been popular among the team since last year's preseason camp, is working in Johnson's place opposite Kevin Walter at OTAs. Rookies DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin also have the opportunity to see quality playing time this season with the release of Jacoby Jones.
Read more about the Texans at the Battle Red Blog.
Some fans have their doubt, but his teammates believe in him.
Over at Football Outsiders, Vince Verhei goes over the biggest off-season needs for each AFC South team. For the defending champion Texans, he points to the opening at right tackle created by the departure of Eric Winston:
In a move that raised eyebrows around the league, the Texans released the highly-regarded Eric Winston prior to free agency. Winston signed with the Chiefs, becoming one of the very few players to be released, then receive a "bigger" contract than he had owed to him. With cap money hard to come by, the Texans couldn't really find many proper solutions in free agency, so Houston instead had to look to the draft. They addressed wide receiver and outside linebacker in the early rounds, and brought in some fascinating interior linemen in the middle rounds, but they don't have an obvious challenger to Rashad Butler at right tackle at this point.
Butler, a third round pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2006, replaced Winston on the University of Miami offensive line earlier in the decade.
He's been part of the Texans organization since 2007, but has started only 4 games so far in his NFL career. With Matt Schaub not exactly the most mobile QB in the NFL, Butler will have to be ready to play this fall, despite his lack of playing experience.
For more coverage of the Texans off-season, head over to Battle Red Blog.
The line-makers have announced how they feel the Texans will do this season.
Beck last played for the Washington Redskins and was cut recently when the team drafted Robert Griffin III No. 2 overall out of Baylor and Michigan State signal caller Kirk Cousins in the fourth round of this years NFL Draft.
NFL.com has the report:
Beck had recently signed a contract extension with the Redskins last September worth $2.25 million over two years.
"We've been working with him throughout the past couple of weeks," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Monday at the team's charity golf tournament. "We've also got a young man from Illinois (undrafted free agent FB Jason Ford) that we're going to work there that was a running back in college, so that's where we're heading right now. There's a couple of veteran fullbacks out there, but as of right now, I feel pretty good about what's going on and what I see out there."
As Nick Scurfield notes, Smith is an excellent athlete. He started his collegiate career at Syracuse as a running back, and excelled as a running back in high school, being named Gatorade Player of the Year in Delaware during his senior season.
Smith seems like the type of player who could be able to make the conversion seamlessly, and it's something to keep an eye on throughout the summer.
For more on the Houston Texans, be sure to head over to Battle Red Blog and join the discussion.
The Houston Texans have officially replaced place kicker Neil Rackers, released following the 2011 season, with veteran kicker Shayne Graham. Graham is expected to compete with but also guide rookie Randy Bullock, the Lou Groza winner out of Texas A&M.
Graham was signed to compete for the starter's role, but the fact he hasn't kicked as a regular starter since 2009, and that the Texans spent a draft pick on a kicker in Bullock (the first time the Texans have done so in franchise history) would imply that Graham's addition is more to create a glorified coach for the future kicking game.
Playing for both Miami and Baltimore in 2011, Graham was six-of-seven on field goals. In 2009, his last fully active season, he was a strong 23-of-28 for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Says here in the Chronicle (if you got that joke, you're welcome), that Texans owner Bob McNair is working on giving both head coach Gary Kubiak and GM Rick Smith extensions; they're both on the last year of their contract. The news itself should come as a surprise to no one after last season's division crown and 1st round playoff win. Considering Kubiak received a 3-year extension after the 2009 season, in which the Texans went 9-7 and missed the playoffs; this news was expected. At the time, coaches hired in the same year as Kubiak had ALL either made the playoffs or been fired; McNair likes Kubiak, he doesn't want to fire him. Now that the Texans have reached a certain level of success, I believe the only way McNair would consider firing Kubiak is if he were to have 3 consecutive losing seasons.
Now to the merits of the decision. McNair wants to avoid what he calls "lame duck coaches," meaning in his mind he feels it undermines the authority of the coach if players and staff feel that he might be on his way out after the season is over. In some cases, he's right, but for the most part I think that's an overrated sentiment. Even if a coach is in the last year of his deal, so are a lot of his assistants and players; I don't think it's a big deal. Really I think this news is a nothing story, or at least should be. If McNair made this decision to reward "Smithiak" and to keep them from being in a "lame duck" status, that's fine, but he also needs to be willing to fire them with years left on their contracts if things fall apart. I don't mind extensions when guys still have years remaining, as long as it doesn't prevent them from moving on if things don't work out. If the Texans go 12-20 over the next two seasons, I don't want to hear McNair say he won't fire Kubiak because he doesn't want to pay two coaches; no one forced him to offer an extension.
Just a year ago, a lot Houston Texans fans were calling for the firing of head coach Gary Kubiak and believed their wish would indeed come true. Instead, the Texans made their first ever trip to the playoffs in the 2011 season and Kubiak is on the verge of landing a contract extension, according to a report by longtime NFL writer John McClain.
Also up for an extension is general manager Rick Smith, but McClain says Kubiak will be dealt with first.
Texans owner Bob McNair said today he's ready to start negotiations on contract extensions for Gary Kubiak and Rick Smith.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) May 7, 2012
McNair says he has no timetable but will extend Kubiak first and Smith second.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) May 7, 2012
Kubiak was last given an extension in 2010 when his original contract was set to expire but after the Texans finished 9-7 the previous season.
Read more about the Texans at the Battle Red Blog.
If Texans fans have heard the name before it's likely because a week ago on Sportsradio 610 AM he said he was the next Andre Johnson. If anything will help that claim by Jones, it's that he will now get to practice alongside Johnson every single day.
Jones was projected by many as a sixth round pick, but he wasn't drafted partly because he needs to improve his hands, acceleration and blocking.
As a Tar Heel last season, Jones put up strong numbers. He caught 85 balls for 1,196 yards and 12 touchdowns. He earned second-team All-ACC honors in 2011 as a senior.
The NFL released the dates for the Houston Texans' offseason OTAs and minicamp on Wednesday.
Former Texan and current free agent kicker Neil Rackers has been looking for potential homes.
From John McClain of the Houston Chronicle:
Rackers spent the last two seasons in Houston making 32 of 38 field-goal attempts in 2011 and 27 of 30 in 2010. He has made at least 75 percent of his field-goal attempts in nine of the last 10 seasons, but at 36 years old, Rackers' age is a concern.
As McClain mentioned, the Texans currently are without a kicker. Many of the top free-agent kickers were given the franchise tag by their respective teams, so there aren't a ton of great options for Houston. It is possible the Texans could draft a kicker for the first time in their history.
Bradie James joins a Houston Texans team that has a singular focus going into the 2012-13 season, winning the Super Bowl. Coming over from the Dallas Cowboys, James has stated that he's excited about joining the program and being closer to his hometown just across the border in Louisiana. However, the one true focus for James is a singular one. Helping the league's No. 2 defense get even better
James was asked about joining the "Bulls On Parade" and his thoughts about becoming a member of the defensive eleven:
"It's a lot of high-motor guys that's on this defense, and you can tell they're very self-motivated. The cohesion is here, and these guys get after it. Just watching film and being in Texas, we got a chance to keep up with each other. Having that 3-4 experience, you just keep up with other [teams] who's playing the 3-4 and see if we can steal something, because it's a copy-cat league. They just stuck out all the time. Cush played well. [Danieal] Manning played well. Antonio Smith played well. All these guys. J.J. [Watt] is just - he has a high motor. The two outside ‘backers [Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed]. Coming from Dallas, we had D-Ware [DeMarcus Ware] and [Anthony] Spencer. We have two outside ‘backers that are just relentless. This whole defense, if you don't do what you're supposed to do and if you're not flying around, you will stick out like a sore thumb." -- Bradie James
James will be replacing Demeco Ryans at the inside linebacker position for the Texans as Houston prepares for the NFL season that kicks off in less than five months.
Texans re-signed veteran ILB Tim Dobbins.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) April 12, 2012
The 29-year old Dobbins backed up starter Brian Cushing and led the team with nine special teams tackles in his first year with the Texans. He had 12 total tackles in 15 games in his sixth season in the NFL. Dobbins spent his first four seasons with the San Diego Chargers, who drafted him in the fifth round out of Iowa State in 2006. Many expect the Texans to get an outside linebacker early in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Houston is coming off its first AFC South division title and playoff appearance in the 11-year history of the club and will be looking to build consistency.
For all the latest off-season news and notes on the Texans, check out Battle Red Blog.
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