The Texans are just ten days away from reporting for training camp. Before they do, let’s take a look at one of the positional battles that will be going on during camp. The safety position, at least at one spot, for the Texans is wide open, with multiple players potentially waiting to emerge and compete for playing time.
Coming into training camp, the Texans will be without AFC South Defensive Player Of The Month Quintin Demps, who signed a three-year deal with the Bears. Demps played 68% of all defensive snaps last season at safety, so his departure means there’s quite a bit of playing time to be had. While Demps may be gone, the Texans still have Andre Hal, who played 80% of the total defensive snaps last season at safety. The door is open for a few different names to take over at the other safety spot opposite Hal. Who has the best chance to take over?
The UDFA from the University of Georgia came on strong towards the end of the season with a slew of big performances that were rewarded with extra playing time. Moore was a big part of the Texans’ secondary during the postseason, as Moore played more than 70% of the total defensive snaps in both games. Moore’s skill-set lends itself well to what the Texans were doing defensively last season by running a lot of two high safety looks, which forced teams away from any deep pass attempts. The issue with Moore is that his playing style is quite similar to that of Hal in that they are both more coverage-based safeties; they struggle when asked to move down into run support.
Pleasant’s role on the Texans has been mostly as a utility player in nickel or dime packages. He has solid ability as a tackler, which has also shown up in his work as a member of the Texans’ special teams. Pleasant would give the Texans a real change at safety in terms of the physicality he brings to the position; that could allow for more single high looks with Andre Hal acting as the deep safety and Pleasant acting as an in-the-box enforcer that can support the run and cover RBs out of the backfield.
There are a variety of names who barely saw any playing time or were not on the roster last season that could also contest for playing time. Kurtis Drummond sat on the Texans’ practice squad last season, but he could graduate to the main squad this season with a series of strong performances in training camp. Lonnie Ballentine hopes to stay healthy for the entire season and make use of his excellent size to gain some continued playing time. K.J. Dillon will try to bounce back after sitting on injured reserve for the majority of the 2016 campaign. Rookie Treston Decoud will also look to make his mark at the position.
One name to look out for in regards to the safety position might be cornerback Kareem Jackson. As we’ve covered before, Jackson got some playing time at safety at end of season, and his slight struggles as a slot corner could facilitate a switch to safety where he can utilize his excellent tackling and nose for the ball as another weapon in the Texans’ loaded defense.
Who do you think is going to emerge at the safety spot during training camp?