Houston spent the offseason revamping their offense at nearly every position. While we’ve spent a significant amount of time analyzing one of their biggest acquisitions, QB Brock Osweiler, the rest of the rookies and freshly signed talent haven’t had as much attention. So let’s take a look at the new faces in Houston (Osweiler excluded), and their progress at the halfway mark of the season.
Lamar Miller, RB
The running back was easily my favorite offseason signing for Houston. I loved the flashes he showed in Miami and was always disappointed by the Dolphins use of him. When he came to the Texans, I expected them to use him as a workhorse back right away. Well, largely thanks to offensive line injuries and struggles, Miller hasn’t been as productive as we all hoped. Eight games into the season, Miller has 637 yards and only three touchdowns, two of which were scored in a single game against Indianapolis. It’s no secret that Houston’s offense has struggled this year, but hopefully Miller can get going in the second half of the season. With so many issues at quarterback, the Texans need to be able to lean on the run; Miller is more than capable of shouldering the load.
Jeff Allen, G
When Brandon Brooks left for Philadelphia (and a big contract), Houston brought in former Chiefs’ guard Jeff Allen to replace him. For what amounts to be a contract savings of $1 million per year, Houston went from an emerging talent in Brooks to a struggling player in Allen. While Allen is not the biggest problem in Houston’s offense, he struggles to block and is consistently beaten by defensive linemen. Osweiler has taken at least a few hits as a result of Allen’s poor play, and the guard will need to improve at protecting the QB as the season progresses.
Tony Bergstrom, C
When rookie Nick Martin was lost for the season to injury, it was a huge blow. Bergstrom, an offseason signing from Oakland, has shared snaps with sophomore Greg Mancz (who has been the starter in the wake of Martin’s injury). Both Mancz and Bergstrom have struggled this season, as Houston’s offensive line issues loom large.
2016 Draft Class:
Nick Martin, C
Martin was one of my favorite draft selections this year. Unfortunately, we have been unable to watch his progression as an injury has sidelined him for the season. With so many struggles on the Texans’ offensive line, this one really hurts.
Will Fuller, WR
I worried about Fuller after the draft, and frankly he still gives me serious anxiety when he bobbles his catches or flat out drops them. But the young wideout has done what he was drafted to do: open up Houston’s offense. As star receiver DeAndre Hopkins continues to draw the toughest coverage and fails to get on the same page with Osweiler, Fuller has emerged as a more accessible big-play option. Fuller has hauled in 25 receptions for 372 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 14.9 yards per catch. He still needs to improve his hands and reliability, but Fuller has been an asset for Houston’s receiving corps this season.
Braxton Miller, WR
Miller has yet to emerge as a huge part of the Texans’ offense, but that is partially due to the other talent on the field in Hopkins, Fuller, and Jaelen Strong. He has shown flashes of ability, however, including contributions to special teams. Hopefully he will continue to develop, especially since he could get a shot at more playing time if the injuries to Fuller or Strong sideline either for a significant amount of time.
Tyler Ervin, RB
Ervin was drafted to add to the firepower on offense and to be a playmaker on special teams. While he has yet to contribute to the run game in any meaningful way (he sits behind L. Miller and Alfred Blue on the depth chart), he has taken over as a huge contributor to special teams as a punt and kick returner. Though he struggled early in the season with a few issues, including fumbles and poor return choices that led to bad field position, he seems to be improving. If Ervin continues to develop, he could drastically affect special teams, an area where Houston has struggled.
K.J. Dillon, S
Dillon was drafted in the fifth round and played behind an immensely talented group of players in the Texans’ secondary. Prior to a torn ACL and his move to IR, Dillon had shown flashes of emerging talent. He will be an interesting player to watch as he returns from injury and continues to develop.
D.J. Reader, DT
Reader, another fifth round selection for Houston, plays behind All-Pro nose tackle Vince Wilfork. The rookie has combined for nine tackles and two stuffs through eight games this season and is developing into an impressive player. The potential replacement for Wilfork down the line should continue to improve as the season continues.
Stephen Anderson, TE
It’s no secret that the UDFA acquisition out of Cal has been one of my favorite additions to the Texans this season. Houston has struggled to find a go-to tight end (though C.J. Fiedorowicz has emerged as a solid target this year). Anderson has had a hand in five games so far this year, hauling in seven catches for 57 yards. While he has yet to find the end zone or have a breakout game, he has become a nice weapon for the Texans, and should continue to develop throughout the season.
The offseason additions to Houston’s roster have been impactful in many ways and disappointing in others. What are your thoughts on these players, Texans fans? Is there anyone that you are really enjoying so far, or someone that you would like to see improvement from? You can use the comments section below to discuss and debate the progress Houston’s new additions have made at the halfway mark.