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An Update On The Texans’ Offensive Line Configuration

Finally some concrete news.

NFL: Houston Texans-Training Camp Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Texans’ came into training camp confused, and and their week one offensive line configuration unknown. Yeah, sure, they had their ideas, and we saw their first idea dismantled against the Packers in their first preseason game where Joe Webb was stuck scurrying away from green monsters. The starting offensive line combination was Matt Kalil (LT), Tytus Howard (LG), Greg Mancz (C), Zach Fulton (RG), and Seantrel Henderson (RG). An ankle injury to Mancz quickly flipped Fulton to center and Max Scharping into the starting lineup.

Aside from the first preseason game, there hasn’t been an officially reported offensive line combination. Aaron Wilson divulged additional information yesterday:

The Texans are approaching the time when they need to settle on their starting offensive line.

The most frequent configuration the Texans have utilized is veteran Matt Kalil at left tackle and rookie first-round draft pick Tytus Howard at left guard, regular right guard Zach Fulton filling in for injured Nick Martin at center, rookie Max Scharping at right guard and Seantrel Henderson at right tackle.

When Martin returns, expect Fulton and Scharping to resume their competition at right guard with Fulton holding the edge at this point.

Martin is expected to return next week from a strained hamstring suffered during a conditioning test at the start of training camp.

“We’re getting more towards where we believe it’ll be,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “Nick hasn’t been in there, obviously, so that’s a big part of it. Greg (Mancz was), injured (ankle) last week in the game, so those guys are big parts of it. It’s good that we have Zach Fulton who can play in there in center, but I’d say that is still a work in progress, but we’re getting closer to what we believe it’ll be.”

It’s surprising, but kind of really isn’t, that the Texans drafted two offensive tackles who are now playing guard. Howard showed fundamental issues with his hands against Green Bay, and is trying to figure out how to go from a small school to the NFL. Scharping didn’t utilize a NFL pass set in college and is battling it out at right guard instead. Houston wants to get these guys on the field in a more cautious spot before leaving them way out on the edge by themselves. Or maybe Houston just wanted to ensure they were versatile enough to be true Houston Texans.

It’s strange that Fulton v. Scharping is even a position battle to begin with. It isn’t saying much, but Fulton was the team’s best offensive lineman last year. And really, the Texans maybe better off benching Martin, who struggles at combo blocks at the focal point of Houston’s rushing attack, for Fulton, who has started games at center before in Kansas City.

Whatever happens at left tackle is unknown. I expected for Kalil to start at left tackle because Houston gave him $7.5 million just to do that, but he was horrendous in last week’s preseason game. Holding penalties. A weak punch. His pass set was ok, but he couldn’t extinguish rushes whatsoever. The other options include Roderick Johnson who played well against Green Bay, and Juli’en Davenport, who wasn’t even out on the field against the Packers. I wonder what him and Martinas Rankin did to deserve this.

There are so many questions here to answer. Even if the Texans feel closer to finding out what they have at this position group, there are still two more games for players to be swapped around, and Bill O’Brien has made drastic changes to the starting lineup after a single half of football. Whatever combination starts week one maybe entirely different in the second half matchup against the New Orleans Saints. Regardless, the singular goal of the preseason at this point is finding out the best offensive line combination the Texans have.