This week I asked the BRB Staff to weigh-in on what it feels are the most interesting Training Camp position battles. With so much uncertainty on the offensive line, and scattered depth issues throughout, we have some nicely varied responses.
My biggest curiosity is the offensive line. There’s just so much uncertainty, but not all of it is negative. You have obvious questions at right tackle, both guards (despite any improvements by XSF), and we assume Duane Brown will at some point end his holdout and return to the team. On a more positive (but still uncertain) note - Nick Martin supposedly looked great at center before his injury last year and its been said he’s held his own better than his line-mates so far at camp. Greg Mancz was a pleasant surprise filling-in for Martin last season. Can Mancz make the move to guard and play better than the incumbents? How versatile is Martin - but even if he is versatile it seems he’s destined to be the center of the future.
I'm very curious to see how the wide receiver group ends up with the final 5-6 on the 53-man roster. On a positive note, they have Wes Welker as a position coach, but the challenge is they also have either Tom "holds the ball too long" Savage, or rookie Deshaun Watson throwing the ball to them this year. The obvious top three should be: DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller and Braxton Miller, all who should have better results in 2017 than they did last year, but who grabs the other spots? Will Jaelen Strong make the final roster and be a consistent asset for the Texans, or will he be a surprise cut? Can Coach Welker mold the second-year undrafted speedster Wendall Williams (40-yard time: 4.19) into an NFL-level receiving threat? This is the group I am very curious to see battle for reps throughout the preseason.
I'm anxious to see how the right side of the offensive line works out. Between Nick Martin and Greg Mancz we should have a solid interior, but the right tackle spot is a huge question mark with no pro bowl answer. Without someone to shield the edge it'll be hard to get great production from the run game or keep Savage off IR... I'm still holding out hope that Rick Smith finds a quality right tackle, but that hope has no basis in reality to stand on.
The safety spot is the position that intrigues me the most. Hal is a lock at free safety, but the hole at strong safety left by Quintin Demps's departure leaves a huge question mark. There is a handful of people with arguments to start there. Eddie Pleasant has been the backup safety for the past few years and could move his way up. Corey Moore saw a lot of action late in the year and didn't flop. Then there is also guys like KJ Dillon and Kurtis Drummond who are both young and promising but had their seasons cut short last year due to injury. However, the one guy whose name is also in the hat is perhaps the most interesting, Kareem Jackson. Jackson has taken snaps at safety this offseason, but are Mike Vrabel and Bill O'Brien comfortable with making that switch and hurting the cornerback depth?
Tight End. CJF is in the last year of his contract and Ryan Griffin got his extension this off-season but the real question is who's going to get the majority of touches and snaps considering CJF might be out the door at the end of this coming season. Also will Stephen Anderson put the injuries and lack of form from last season behind him and contest for playing time with the other two?
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Right Tackle. According to the FOA Chris Clark had more than 20 blown blocks in pass protection. I thought he was bad, but I didn't know he was that bad. The offensive line wasn't as bad as it was it was made out to be last season. It was mediocre, but not a disaster. That being said, pass protection is going to be critical for this offense next season. For Tom Savage to even scrape below average he is going to need a lot of time to throw the ball, he holds onto the ball forever and was blindsided a few times last year, and with Deshaun Watson probably going to play this year, it's always good for young quarterbacks to have time to process what's in front of him.
So, I'm just dying to see who wins this most riveting and crucial battle between Clark, Juli'en Davenport, and Breno Giocamini.
What say you, BRB? Please use the comments section to discuss your most interesting position battles and whether you agree with the Staff picks!