AFC South Blog top man Paul Kuharsky from the worldwide leader reported from Texans OTAs today and he had a lot more positive stuff to say than negative. Which seems to be a first for the Texans this offseason. It's been either that this player is hurt, this one is grumpy or this one has a tumor in his thyroid. So positive news coverage is certainly welcome.
Let's take a closer look at his analysis...
As a group the running backs look good –- which they are supposed to. Steve Slaton is in a red shirt to discourage any contact as he gets back from a neck injury. He’s lighter. Further down the depth chart, Chris Henry has bulked up. Ben Tate is still catching up after missing early time. Arian Foster is still at the head of the line and could put me in a spot where I have to give him a bit more credit, though I am weary of banking on much from him off a few good games at the end of 2009. Ryan Moats is the old man of the group and he’s just 27. One OTA practice should tell me little, but I can’t help but feel a little better about their depth.
Something I first noticed here was that Jeremiah Johnson didn't even get a mention. One has to wonder if he will even get a chance to prove he deserves a spot on the team or if he is just a camp body. The name Chris Henry caught me off guard because I almost forgot he was on the team. I also wonder if he bulked up his football IQ at all, because if not, welcome to the practice squad, Chris. Like I said in my last podcast, I am skeptical of Arian Foster being RB1 when the season starts simply based off of a few good games last year, so I have to agree with Kuharsky there. As for Moats, if the team carries four guys at the position, he still has a shot, albeit slim.
This was just the second day of the kicker competition, and after a draw in round one, Kris Brown was a bit better than Neil Rackers. Brown hit five of five from 38 yards, Rackers four or five with a couple narrowly inside the right upright. I love a kicker competition -- because I don’t need a lot of help to see who’s doing better. This should be a good one, but it’s hard to replicate the sort of pressure the Texans need to be sure they can handle in a way Brown didn’t last year. Gary Kubiak is certain the guy who’s not kicking for him will be kicking for another team.
Anyone else getting the sick feeling that Kris Brown is going to win this battle? Before anyone is staring into the bottom of a Coors Light bottle (Breathe, Tim...breathe.) or jumping off rooftops, let's wait and see what KB does in a preseason game before we crown him. I don't expect him to rebound, but I didn't expect him to after 2005 and he did. But, this one still makes me nervous, to be truthful...
Brian Cushing is working as the starter. Kubiak said he won’t mess with the lineup through the remainder of the offseason since Cushing is going to be around for 12 games. In camp the coach will start to juggle, and he forecasts a three-way battle to sub for Cushing between Xavier Adibi, Kevin Bentley and Danny Clark for a four-game starting stint on the strongside.
Pretty much as expected on Cushing. As far as his replacement in Weeks 1 to 4, my money is on Danny Clark. Bentley is awesome on special teams, but not too sure about his play at LB. Xavier Adibi is in the same field as Frank Okam for me personally. He just looks completely confused when he's out there. But, it's a new year. Perhaps a new attitude will follow.
Matt Schaub looked crisp and confident, and I saw way more of that from backup Dan Orlovsky than I did this time last year. The visual matched up with what I’d read about Orlovsky, who was third behind Schaub and since-departed Rex Grossman the previous year, appears more equipped to play if needed.
If he looked any worse than he did last year around this time, I'd be severely worried. Dan-O needs to really show something in camp and the preseason to avoid becoming the next Dave Ragone. Who, as we all remember, crapped the bed when he got to play a few years back after the "starter" went down with injury. Great to hear that Matt looks good as usual. Is anyone out there really worried about his play? Besides the Vince Young fanboys? Doubtful.
Kubiak said he wanted to bring some chaos to practice, and since the team was inside, he used crowd noise for the first time this offseason. It was loud and ran pre-snap to a second after a receiver caught a pass or a running back was to the second or third level.
Interesting. Now if we can do that and put the Indianapolis Colts defense in front of Kris Brown, then that would be what I call "Chaos." So, there you have it. Some pretty good stuff out of OTAs. Ben Tate is finally practicing with the team and Kareem Jackson is making his presence and ability known early. Even Jay Glazer has apparently gotten over his period and is back to providing #56 with some MMA training. There is also a video of it if you click that link. So, everything seems to be getting back to normal after a rough start to OTAs. Hell, NFL.com even ranked the Texans pretty decently on their first power rankings. It's been a topsy turvy start to OTAs, but things are starting to sound pretty good. We're only two months away from the preseason...