Houston Texans training camp is now underway. As always, that means a few players aren’t available to contribute immediately. This season’s camp starts without cornerback Gareon Conley and backup linebacker Dylan Cole, as both were placed on the PUP list. As posted last week, reserve defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes has already opted out of the season due to concerns about COVID-19.
Texans cornerback Gareon Conley and inside linebacker Dylan Cole are on the active physically unable to perform list to start training camp, the team announced Friday.
Both players have undergone surgery since last season.
Conley had offseason ankle surgery, while Cole is recovering from a torn ACL suffered in his right knee in 2019.
While the absence of Conley and Cole was not unexpected, both need to get healthy if Houston’s seemingly unimproved defense is going to take any sort of step forward this season. Conley and CB1 Bradley Roby are the only starting caliber cornerbacks on the roster, and without Conley, the Texans’ 29th ranked passing defense from 2019 might actually fall further into the basement.
For Vanderdoes, the current pandemic is all too real and not something he wants to trifle with anytime soon.
[Eddie] called and we talked about it. He does have a pre-existing condition and he’s also had family members that have dealt with it over the last six months. He’s making a decision in the best interest of his family and we respect that decision.
As of this writing, 35 NFL players have opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. Trying to determine just how to prevent the spread of any sort of infection among players who sweat, spit, bleed, and sometimes vomit on and around each other is no easy task. NFL locker rooms are often breeding grounds for all sorts of contagious illnesses, with the flu having a direct outcome on many a game. If the NFL can’t keep the flu from sweeping through a franchise, believing they can do it with COVID-19 is a fool’s errand.
Welcome to 2020, where the Texans not only have to sidestep an injury bug that’s taken out star players J.J. Watt, Deshaun Watson, Will Fuller V, Whitney Mercilus and others over the last few years, but the team must also figure out how to insulate themselves from the physical and mental effects of a global pandemic.
In happier news, Watt says he’s in the best shape he’s been in since the 2014-15 season:
"My body feels as good as it's felt since probably 2014, 2015 somewhere around there."— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) August 1, 2020
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We all know what a healthy Watt means for the defense.
I would say that the quarantine situation has given me literally nothing to do but work out every day. I mean, there’s nothing else you can do. You can’t go out. You can’t go to the movies. You can’t go out to eat. So the workout program for me this offseason has been awesome because I’ve had a full offseason to do my workouts exactly how I need to do them. I’ve been able to focus on my nutrition every single day. I’ve counted every single calorie the whole way, basically try to fully transform my body from the beginning of the offseason until now and it truly has been one of the best offseasons from a workout standpoint than I’ve ever had and I’m very, very pleased about it.
Do you think Conley will recover quickly? Expect Cole to finally make it through a full season without injury? All in on #99 getting his unprecedented fourth NFL Defensive Player of the Year award?