Mays a part of competition for starting ILB

Mays a part of competition for starting ILB
July 30, 2013, 2:00 pm
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Kubiak on new addition Joe Mays

(USA Today Images)

The Texans signed veteran linebacker Joe Mays to a one-year contract on Monday. But they did it for more than depth purposes.

Mays, who spent the last three years in Denver, does give the Texans some much-needed depth at the inside linebacker position, with Brian Cushing recovering from an ACL surgery and Darryl Sharpton on the Non-football Injury list.

But he’s also going to be given a chance to win a starting role.

Sharpton arrived to OTAs healthy after finishing last season on the Injured Reserve. He worked well this spring and was penciled in to be a starter next to Cushing. But he showed up to training camp with a groin injury and hasn’t been able to practice because he’s on the Non-football Injury list.

According to linebackers coach Reggie Herring, there will be competition for the spot next to Cushing. And it’ll start with Mays, who is expected to practice with the team for the first time on Wednesday.

“Right now, when Joe shows up, we’re going to give him the opportunity to be the one linebacker,” Herring said after Tuesday’s morning practice. “He’s started in this league. He’s healthy, he’s ready to go. We’ve got Tim Dobbins also, who’s done a great job, who’s given us some stability there also.

“At the end of the day, when Joe gets here, we’re going to give him an opportunity to be that MO and see what he can do. He’s healthy, he’s ready to go. That we do know. As far as Darryl, when he gets back, it’s always competitive. It’s important to note this: it’s a competitive position. Always, the guy that’s being the most productive will end up being the starter.

“Right now, we’re more concerned with getting Darryl on the field and getting him reps than who’s starting at MO. That’s a moot point. When Darryl gets back, that just means we have more depth at linebacker. And any one of them could be a starter at any time because they’ve proven they can play. That’s a good thing.”

Herring pointed out that Sharpton is just as frustrated at his latest setback as everyone else and made sure to note that Sharpton has proven he can play when he’s on the field. But Mays brings a wealth of experience; he’s started 22 games in his NFL career.  
 
“In reality, nobody has earned a starting job at MO here right now,” Herring said. “So we’re going to take the recourses we have on the field, implement them competitively. And whoever plays the best, will play that week. But we’re not going to get into all of that right now. We just need to get Darryl back on the field. He’s gotta get on the field and play and sustain. We have to get Joe Mays on the field and caught up.”