March 21, 2018

SOTT Mailbag: Houston Texans Week 1 OTAs Edition

Week one of Houston Texans OTAs wrapped up and we opened the floor from some readers questions. With array of questions we give you this week’s State of the Texans mailbag.



SOTT Mailbag 

At this point, zero. The Texans are a base 3-4 two gap defense that will look comparable to the eye what was seen the previous two seasons here in Houston, but have completely different responsibilities. Now if we are talking four down lineman then there is a discussion.

Expect when the Texans go to nickel and dime packages to have four down lineman in the game featuring J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney and another down lineman.  Bill O’Brien has talked about the NFL game being played over 50% in the nickel and dime so expect plenty of “four man fronts”.


We are far away from that but here goes.

Brian Cushing and Brooks Reed will be here, then you are looking at Justin Tuggle and Jeff Tarpinian as the next two. Then there will be a dog fight for possibly the 5th spot in the position group between rookies Max Bullough, Chris Young and veteran Mike Mohamed. We would not rule out if they are not happy with the this third tier of linebackers that signing one could not be out of the question.

Also keeping five inside linebackers is dependent on what Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel wants to keep so that number can change. We just used five as an educated guess.

We will give you two but it will probably not sit well early on for Texans fans. Our early two are right tackle Derek Newton and cornerback Brandon Harris.  

Newton has lost a lot of weight this offseason and finally looks like a well put together offensive tackle. This could be the year that Newton could put his game experience from the previous three seasons together. Plus it appears his overall focus to get his body into NFL shape usually comes with maturity and that is a good sign. Newton was coming off major knee surgery prior to the 2013 season which caused some major issues including some weight that slowed him on the field. 

Harris will finally get his shot to prove he can play and the Texans need to find out what they have with the former second round pick. He has started OTAs very strong and he has shown on the field he is confident and ready to take the step. Just like Newton they will have every chance to prove their worth and Harris will more than likely get the first crack at the nickel corner position with others trying to take it from him.   


Jeff Tarpinian is still doing what he does best excel in coverage as linebacker. One thing that people forget is that Tarpinian came from New England prior to signing with the Texans so he has a relationship with some coaches on this team. If there is one player on the team that understands the expectations expected now it is Tarpinian. 

It will be interesting to see how Tarpinian does with the Texans now that he is getting a full training camp with the team now. 


It is tough to tell who is the primary back up running back and we wouldn’t look too much into who is the #2 or #3 back. Look at the position as a group because depending on what the defense is giving to the offense could dicatate which back is going to be used. Arian Foster will be leaned on in the new offense to produce but after that it is more about who will make the team than where they are on the depth chart. 

Rookie running back Alfred Blue is one to watch. He can do a little bit of it all and looks very comparable skill wise to what Foster can do. We are not saying they are currently on the same level but they are from the same mold as a player. One who can one cut and get up field and catch the football with ease. 

Andre Brown can add some life to the running game if he can shake the injury bug. The Texans running back position is shaping up much better than it was last season and just like the roster it looks like a versatile group that all bring something different to the offense. 


The rookie safety has a steep learning curve and has five veterans with him at the position. Ballenitne is a developmental player that will have to prove his worth when the shoulder pads are put on during training camp and has to be a serious contributor on special teams. 

Rookies at the moment are behind in terms of learning the system and using OTAs as a learning tool is key. Ballentine is expected to be behind the veterans who have been working on this new system for over two months while the rookies are only entering week three with the team. Week two of OTAs starts on Monday so that will be a big step for some rookies to see how well they are catching on.   


It is hard to see him NOT making the team. Honestly when a fullback like Jay Prosch, who was considered the best fullback in college football last season, the Texans selected the fullback in the 6th round.  Also, how often do teams draft a “specialty” position do not make the team. More times than not NFL fullbacks come from the UDFA route unless they do something very well and Prosch was a bulldozer at Auburn clearing the way for Tré Mason. 

There will also be the excuse of they are not in pads but Prosch was asked to do plenty of lead blocking for Auburn which will translate to the Texans. He has a willingness to block which is a mentality needed for the position. 

Prosch will also have to contribute on special teams but with the mentality that Bill O’Brien is bringing to the team the fullback will be a viable position for the offense when needed. There will be chatter about lower round draft picks are guaranteed little, but with no real fullback on the roster Prosch fits what this team needs.

Here is a small sample size of what the fullback can do. Notice that his blocking is not only straight ahead there are plenty of moving targets he has to hit with him on the move. 

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