It’s been awhile since I attended a Houston Texans training camp. I’d go with my dad and watch the players practice in the scorching heat with nothing better to do on a summer morning right at the beginning of the school year. Being so far away from Houston now, training camp always has a nostalgic sentiment for me and has become something I follow with great interest.
From predicting who makes the rosters to watching rookies don Texans uniforms for the first time, there is something sacred about the training camp process. Maybe it’s the idea of a clean slate and pure potential for the team, but every preseason comes with news and storylines that can will be played out in the coming weeks. Here are the top 10 developments of this edition of Texans training camp.
10. New Coordinators Making Their Mark
The Texans will feature a completely new set of coordinators in 2020. All three - offense, defense, and special teams - will have new, albeit familiar, faces taking over. Bill O’Brien handed over the play card this year to Tim Kelly. Many see this move as a puppet master/puppet scenario where O’Brien is still in charge and Kelly simply follows orders, but either way it’s a step in the right direction of divvying up the responsibilities.
On the defensive side, Anthony Weaver got promoted from the Defensive Line Coach to Defensive Coordinator. Romeo Crennel moved upstairs to be as an assistant coach and guide for the new coordinator. Weaver will need to impart his wisdom on the three rookie defensive draft picks the Texans took this past year to get them up to speed.
Special teams saw Brad Seely retire; he was replaced by longtime assistant Tracey Smith. Smith has a high standard to live up to, or Houston’s special teams could take a sizable step back in 2020.
9. Texans Take Chance on P.J. Hall
The Raiders let go of 2018 second-round pick P.J. Hall after just two seasons. They attempted to trade the defensive tackle to the Minnesota Vikings, but he failed his physical and the trade was off. Now, the Texans have brought in the Sam Houston State product with the hopes that he can reach his potential with some tough love and time. Hall is currently not practicing with the team, instead working to get in shape on the sideline. The low-risk/high-reward opportunity is relatively outside O’Brien’s comfort level, but we’ll see how Hall does throughout training camp.
8. Stills and Cole Activated Off PUP List
It’s always a good thing to get players back to health before the season. WR Kenny Stills and ILB Dylan Cole were activated this week from the PUP list. Cole, more seriously, tore his ACL last season and has suffered two straight season-ending injuries in his young career. Cole is a great cover linebacker and can be a huge asset to the defense when healthy. Stills was out with an undisclosed illness for a couple days but has made his way back to the practice field. He will be in a tough competition for his job, and not starting Day One healthy is a setback he couldn’t afford.
7. The Media Hyping Up David Johnson’s Physique
The Texans’ new premier running back is supposedly looking sharp, and people are taking notice. Not since Ryan Mallett’s arm talent have I seen such glamorous praise for a new addition on the roster.
New Texans running back David Johnson is in outstanding shape, looked quick and fluid out of the backfield— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) August 14, 2020
Oh Aaron, you’re making him blush!
The media is all over Johnson like white on rice. It’s either the ten people from the media given access to the team were told to cover him with pure optimism, or Johnson is truly looking good in 2020. We hope for the best, expect the worst, and can only reminisce about DeAndre Hopkins.
6. Rookies Placed In Rotational Roles
It may not have been said outright, but even for second round pick Ross Blacklock, there does not appear to be a starting job readily available for any rookies. You can speculate that may not be a bad thing at all, considering the depth on the roster, but in this case it’s more of a comment on the climate of football in general. Without the necessary preseason experience rookies usually get before their first professional season, they are left without many opportunities to earn a starting role.
Right now, the Texans should be gearing up for their second preseason game against the Seahawks; instead they are going through the motions of a strange training camp. For most rookies, this will be a tough learning curve in an already unforgiving league.
5. Kahale Warring Practicing
The 2019 third-round pick has finally shown signs of progress from his hamstring injury and concussions by suiting up this week. Warring took to the practice field this week after being placed on IR in the last week of the 2019 preseason. Far down the depth chart, Warring will be looking to differentiate himself from the other tight ends.
4. J.J. Watt In Full Health
Watt did end the 2019 season active and suited up in the NFL Playoffs. Anything concerning Watt usually takes a high priority for this franchise. A long offseason allowed Watt to repair and reshape his body for the 2020 campaign. With Watt at full strength, the defense takes a big leap in its potential. As the most veteran player on the defense, Watt’s knowledge and experience will be crucial with the influx of young defensive linemen that surround him. We may not see another 20-sack season out of Watt, but this team is undoubtedly markedly better with #99 on the field.
3. Initial Receiver Depth Chart
New faces across the wide receiver group have made initial strides and appear to be starting in practice so far. As of now, Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks have emerged as the two starters on the outside with Randall Cobb in the slot. That means Keke Coutee and Kenny Stills have fallen down the depth chart. Even further, rookie receiver Isaiah Coulter and return specialist DeAndre Carter will be fighting for reps and playing time as specialists. Once Stills gets back to full health, we’ll see how this position battle plays out.
2 . Duke Ejiofor Out For The Season
Ouch. The master of the spin move may have twirled his last whirl for the Texans after tearing his ACL in practice last week. The outside linebacker drafted in 2018 flashed in his first preseason, but has been constantly hampered by injuries throughout his football career. His absence paves the way for Jonathan Greenard to be the designated rotational outside linebacker for the Texans behind Whitney Mercilus, Jacob Martin, and Brennan Scarlett. Two straight years of season-ending injuries does not bode well for any athlete. Hopefully 2021 is more promising for the Wake Forest prospect.
1. Tytus Howard Returns From Partial MCL Tear
The Texans’ 2019 first-round pick suffered a partially torn MCL halfway through his rookie season, but he appears to be well on his way back from the season-ending injury. This is a great sign for the Texans, as they took a chance on Howard’s raw talent over several other seemingly higher-rated prospects in the first round. Howard started the season at left guard before making his way to right tackle after a few games. Once there, he began improving game after game in his pass blocking skill. Howard made the 2019 All-Rookie team after only playing eight games. With Howard back in the fold, the Texans look to have their best offensive line in quite a while.
That’s the main news so far from Texans Training Camp. How do you keep track of the Texans during training camp? Leave a comment down below!