Texans Training Camp Primer: On Deck
This is Part Two of our Training Camp Preview which will be released throughout the week.
The Hidden Parts
The 2011 Houston Texans were all about the “Next Man Up” mantra and this season hopefully we will not have to relive that stressful time of being a fan. Entering this season, the Texans on paper have a pretty talented roster and it could prove to be a key piece in the run for the AFC South crown. Last season plenty of players received experience from the multitude of injuries and that should be a welcomed sight to a seasoned roster heading into camp. From only a handful of players with playoff experience, the Texans now have a roster that has gotten a taste of the second season, the playoffs.
Entering the playoffs last season, the Texans had 12 players with playoff experience but now they have 41 players with that title. Either way, they will have a group of players ready for the upcoming season that could prove to be bigger pieces of the Texans future.
Brooks Reed- If there was one player who kept last season together for the Texans’ defense, it was Reed. Replacing Mario Williams and providing some quality snaps his rookie season, Reed looked like a seasoned veteran by playoffs end. He was vital and his bulldog attitude was something the defense was longing for. News early out of OTAs was how strong Reed has gotten over the off-season and his growth mentally as a player. Expectations will not be higher for the second year player, who looks to be a starter for years to come.
Brandon Harris- The strike hurt Harris’ chances of contributing Week 1, where the learning curve seems to be tough for rookie corner backs. Harris appeared in 7 games for the Texans, mostly on special teams. Ready for his second season, Harris will have to find his place within the secondary. Is he a boundary corner that will compete with Kareem Jackson or a nickel corner that will compete with Brice McCain? Harris will have to prove that the Texans made the right move by trading up for him in the late second round of the 2011 NFL draft.
Roc Carmichael- One of the biggest question marks heading into last season and one of the more athletically gifted players in the Texans secondary. How good? He practiced for 2 full days in training camp before hurting his shoulder, then he did not play one single snap during preseason and he still made the active roster before finding his way onto the injured reserve. Carmichael can return kicks and punts and has some serious football speed. If he can bring his play making ability that he showed at Virginia Tech, he could push Jackson for some snaps in 2012.
Derek Newton- The seventh round pick from Arkansas State was a welcomed surprise for the team in 2011. He was brought in for short yardage situations and looks to be a good offensive lineman of the future. The faster he can catch on, the better for the team in the long run. He is with the team for a bargain basement price. News has already come out of mini-camp that he looks poised to take on Rashad Butler for the starting right tackle position.
Lestar Jean- Another wildcard for the Texans, but he made plenty of noise during the 2011 training camp and caught the eyes of the coaching staff and veteran players. Jean is a potential deep threat that has deceptive speed, and he has gotten endorsements from both T.J. Yates and Matt Schaub. Jean could finally provide the long-lost wide receiver the offense has been missing for the past few seasons.
Kareem Jackson- This is the make or break season for the Houston fans’ #1 scapegoat. After an improved sophomore season, Jackson could be primed for an even better 3rd season with the Texans. Under defensive coaches Wade Philips and Vance Joseph for the second season, Jackson showed what proper coaching could do for him as a player. He was put into position to succeed in the 2011 season, but his ball skills need to improve this next season.
Ben Tate- Proved to be a blessing in disguise after Arian Foster was hampered by his hamstring to start the season. Tate was 58 yards short of the 1,000 yard mark and he had 103 less carries than Foster and averaged 5.4 yards per carry (Foster 4.4). Texans fans should be wanting Tate to have a monster season so his trade value can go through the roof. With Foster inked for the coming seasons, Tate must prove this season he is an NFL starter. Expect to see Tate often this season, keeping Foster fresh and showcasing his talents on the field.
T.J. Yates- For the first time since Sage Rosenfels suited up for the Texans, it feels like the Texans have an accomplished backup. The less we see of Yates the better, but having him ready just in case should have the team confident no matter what happens. Yates learned on the run last season but expect him to grow as an NFL quarterback and possibly the future signal caller of the franchise for the years to come. He exuded a confidence last season when he was under center but his rookie ways showed at times, especially in the Divisional playoffs. No longer a rookie, Yates is very capable of picking up from last season.
Who are you looking for to be an important piece of the Texans season that is not considered a “star”?
You can see Part One of our training camp Primer here.
You can follow Patrick on Twitter. He is the Editor of State of the Texans and is a draft analyst on Sideline Scouting.