Breaking down 3 Texans position battles

Breaking down 3 Texans position battles
July 1, 2013, 9:00 am
Share This Post

Texans training camp doesn't start until July 26, but we're getting closer.

There will be plenty to watch during the couple of weeks under the hot Houston summer sun, but position battles are always intriguing. And every team has them.

Many of the Texans have their spots cemented either as starters or reserve players but there are some spots up for grabs and the team will make decisions after watching practices and preseason games.

1. Third-string running back

Last season the Texans had a real luxury with Justin Forsett on the roster. Forsett was a veteran with some NFL experience under his belt. He ended up with 63 rushing attempts (374 yards) last season, just two fewer than backup running back Ben Tate.

Tate had a great 2011 season, rushing for nearly 1,000 yards. But in 2012, a hamstring injury kept him off the field. He also missed his entire rookie season due to injury.

That's why the third-string running back job is so important for the Texans. They have a running back in Arian Foster, who ran the ball 351 times last year, and a backup who has trouble staying healthy.

In 2013, the Texans will have a few options for that third running back spot. It seems like the best candidates for the spot are Deji Karim, and undrafted rookies Dennis Johnson and Cierre Wood. They also have undrafted rookie Ray Graham.

Karim is the only one with NFL experience. He's been in the league since 2010 and the Texans know him well; he played for division rival Jacksonville.

But Karim isn’t the frontrunner. In the end, the job might come down to Wood and Johnson. Wood, from Notre Dame, seems like the better pure runner. He's the type of guy who might be able to fill in for Tate, who will be a free agent after this season.

Johnson is smaller, 5-7, 193, but is built well and does everything. He can block, catch out of the backfield and return.

Ultimately, this job might come down to this: Do the Texans need Johnson to return? If not, Wood might make more sense.

2. Right tackle

The right tackle position continues to be the biggest question mark surrounding the 2013 Texans and it could end up being a big problem.

There are really four possible starters at that right tackle spot: Derek Newton, Brennan Williams, Ryan Harris and David Quessenberry.

Newton and Williams were supposed to be the two battling for the job but both missed just about the entire spring with knee injuries. They are both expected to be back for training camp but will have to work to get back into shape. Newton was last year’s starter but is coming off a knee surgery. And Williams is talented but the rookie lost valuable OTA and minicamp time.

Harris re-signed with the Texans on a one-year deal but he’s not supposed to be a starter. The team likes him as a backup. He did work with the first team during the spring out of necessity and could be an option if Newton and Williams aren’t ready.

Then, there’s Quessenberry, a sixth-round pick from San Jose State. He looked good this spring but it’s probably a stretch to expect him to be a starter. Heck, he might have trouble making the team. How many tackles can the team really carry?

3. Backup nose tackle

OK, as long as Earl Mitchell stays healthy, the backup nose tackle position might not be that important. But the battle itself is pretty intriguing. It looks like it’s going to come down to Chris Jones vs. Terrell McClain.

Jones was a sixth-round pick this year and has been working at NT since rookie minicamp. McClain is a former third-round pick of the Carolina Panthers, who has never lived up to his draft status. McClain was actually the first pick in the third round of the 2011 draft.

This battle is interesting. The Texans would probably love to keep their draft pick. In fact, Rick Smith, when asked shortly after the completion of the draft, said Jones was his pick for a late-round player that will surprise people. But will the Texans keep a recent draft pick if McClain is outplaying him, even if it’s just by a little bit?

McClain has looked very good through the spring practices but those practices don’t have any hitting, so we’ll get a better idea once training camp starts. It’s possible the Texans keep McClain and try to get Jones to the practice squad.

Texans - Team News
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) remained limited in Thursday's practice. Johnson doesn't need full practices at this stage of his career. He's a solid WR2 for Sunday's game against the Titans.
Oct 23 4:37PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney (knee) said he'd be surprised if he doesn't play in Sunday's game... Clowney hasn't played since tearing his meniscus in Week 1. He says he plans to "push through" the soreness that's still in his knee. If the training staff lets...
Oct 23 11:41AM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Ryan Fitzpatrick admitted he "didn't get it to Andre [Johnson] nearly enough early"... Johnson finished with 5-77-0 on nine targets, but had just one catch for four yards through the first three quarters. After the game, coach Bill O'Brien said that Johnson...
Oct 23 8:03AM Read More
Brian Cushing - LB
Texans ILB Brian Cushing will miss at least one week with a knee injury. It's a blow to an already vulnerable Houston run defense, and a nice upgrade to Bishop Sankey's Week 8 matchup. Justin Tuggle and Mike Mohamed figure to start at inside...
Oct 22 8:32PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) was limited in Wednesday's practice. The Texans are limiting Johnson's reps coming off Monday night's loss. He'll remain a WR2 for Week 8 against the Titans.
Oct 22 5:22PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster was limited in Wednesday's practice. The Texans listed Foster as "not injury related," but he missed practice time last week with a groin issue. Foster has a matchup with the Titans' No. 22 ranked run...
Oct 22 5:15PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
According to HoustonTexans.com, there's a "decent chance" Jadeveon Clowney (knee)... "He feels good," coach Bill O'Brien said Monday. "Well see how it goes this week in practice. We'll be able to make a determination pretty soon about whether...
Oct 21 3:58PM Read More
Garrett Graham - TE
Garrett Graham caught two passes for 24 yards in the Texans' Week 7 loss to the Steelers. Graham was targeted three times, but dropped the other. It can be considered one of Graham's better statistical games of the season, which obviously means he's nowhere near...
Oct 20 11:31PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson caught five passes for 77 yards in the Texans' Week 7 loss to the Steelers on... Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins each saw a team-high nine targets. There was nothing special about Johnson's night. His biggest play was a 24-yard grab on a deep in route in...
Oct 20 11:25PM Read More
DeAndre Hopkins - WR
DeAndre Hopkins caught six passes for 108 yards in the Texans' Week 7 loss to the Steelers on... Hopkins and Andre Johnson each saw a team-high nine targets. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw it to whichever receiver was working against embattled Steelers CB Cortez Allen. ...
Oct 20 11:16PM Read More
Alfred Blue - RB
Alfred Blue rushed for 14 yards on five carries and caught an 11-yard touchdown in the Texans'... Blue was the vulture on the opening-drive 11-yard score after Arian Foster managed 59 rushing yards to get the Texans near the goal line. Foster is an every-down back,...
Oct 20 11:09PM Read More
Ryan Fitzpatrick - QB
Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 21-of-32 passes for 262 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception... Fitzpatrick played well for much of the first half, leading the Texans on three consecutive scoring drives to open the game. It was a train wreck thereafter. One play...
Oct 20 10:56PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster rushed for 102 yards on 20 carries in the Texans' 30-23, Week 7 loss to the... Foster got off to a blazing start, rushing for 59 yards on the Texans' 94-yard opening touchdown drive, but was vultured by Alfred Blue for the 11-yard touchdown catch to...
Oct 20 10:47PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
Jadeveon Clowney (knee) is inactive for Monday night's Week 7 game against the Steelers. Clowney's lateral agility wasn't where the Texans wanted it to be in pre-game warmups. He's been out since undergoing knee surgery after Week 1. Whitney Mercilus is...
Oct 20 6:09PM Read More
DeAndre Hopkins - WR
DeAndre Hopkins (hand) is probable for Week 7. The Texans listed Hopkins on the injury report, but his status was never in doubt. He'll be a WR3 for Monday night against the Steelers.
Oct 18 2:54PM Read More

More Team Talk