clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2021 Houston Texans Training Camp: Three Battles To Watch

8 shall enter, 3 shall leave.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Bay Area News Group Archive

With training camp knocking on the door, the Houston Texans ‘competition’ campaign is about to come to a head. There’s plenty of room for competition, with over 90 players currently on the roster, according to ESPN.com, and only 53 slots on the final roster available.

Fans Are Not Welcome At Houston Texans Training Camp

Since Cal McNair and Jack Easterby don't want actual Texans fans at training camp, we’ll have to take what glimpses we can get from the in-house “reporters” and old school media McEasterby will invite to camp. In order to focus those glimpses, the fine folks at PFF have put together a handy spotter’s guide for 2021 Houston Texans Training Camp Battles to watch.

Houston Texans 2021 Starting Quarterback

Pro Football Focus:

QUARTERBACK: TYROD TAYLOR VS. DAVIS MILLS

Taylor had a successful three-year stint as the starting quarterback of the Buffalo Bills from 2015 to 2017. During those seasons, he ranked eighth at the quarterback position in PFF grade (81.7) and helped lead the Bills to their first postseason appearance in nearly two decades. Taylor has started just four games since that 2017 campaign, losing his starting job to a rookie quarterback in both Cleveland and Los Angeles. There’s a good chance it happens again at some point next season in Houston.

The Texans will need to see if Mills shows any promise as the future starter as another quarterback decision looms in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Not sure how much of a battle this is in training camp since Davis Mills is vastly inexperienced when compared to the 11-year veteran Tyrod Taylor. However, it will provide the first public outing of Nick Caserio’s idea of the savior of Houston’s offense in Mills. How he’ll look under live fire will have to wait until preseason, if he doesn’t get hurt during training camp.

Houston Texans 2021 Starting Running Back

Pro Football Focus

RUNNING BACK: DAVID JOHNSON VS. MARK INGRAM VS. PHILLIP LINDSAY VS. REX BURKHEAD

This is one of the strangest collections of veteran running backs in the NFL, and there won’t be enough touches to go around for all four players. Lindsay has been one of the more underrated pure runners in the league over the past several seasons, ranking in the 87th percentile in rushing grade since 2018. Ingram is next on the list (78th percentile) and has familiarity with new head coach David Culley from Baltimore. Yet, Johnson and Burkhead offer more as receiving threats out of the backfield, leaving little clarity at the position entering training camp.

At this stage, David Johnson should fall into the passing down back role, while Phillip Lindsay gets the RB1 spot, with mark Ingram spelling Lindsay. Rex Burkhead will most likely be a short yardage/goal line weapon. That is, if they all make the final roster, which is unlikely.

Houston Texans 2021 Starting Right Tackle

Pro Football Focus

RIGHT TACKLE: TYTUS HOWARD VS. MARCUS CANNON

Per The Athletic’s Aaron Reiss, Texans offensive line coach James Campen said earlier this offseason that he didn’t see Cannon kicking inside from tackle to guard. That leaves Cannon in a competition with the incumbent at right tackle, unless Houston plans to move Howard inside to right guard. The 25-year-old Howard improved his overall grade from 59.4 as a rookie to 62.1 in 2020.

Cannon will put some pressure on the former first-round selection to continue improving. He earned PFF grades of at least 70.0 every season from 2016 to 2019 in New England before opting out of the 2020 season.

This is the single biggest head-scratcher of the ‘competition’ campaign. Tytus Howard was drafted, controversially, as the right tackle of the future for Houston. The Texans finally have an alleged quality offensive line coach in James Campen, who might actually develop players. They traded for another right tackle in Marcus Cannon. Common sense would have Howard at RT, slide Cannon into the right guard slot, and make Campen earn his paycheck by coaching up Howard to be the guy he was drafted to be.

But this is the McEasterby Texans, where common sense is apparently outlawed. So, who knows?