Rookie guards Brooks, Jones taking advantage

Rookie guards Brooks, Jones taking advantage
December 20, 2012, 8:00 am
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Most people probably viewed Antoine Caldwell’s hamstring strain as an injury.

Brandon Brooks viewed it as an opportunity.

Brooks, 23, is in his rookie season after being drafted out of Miami (Ohio). But before the Texans’ Thanksgiving Day matchup against the Lions, he hadn’t had his first NFL snap. Against the Lions, he had just three, but they’ve become more frequent in recent weeks.

“Whenever a teammate gets hurt, it is an opportunity but you don’t ever wish for a teammate to get hurt,” the rookie third-rounder said. “As far as me seeing it as an opportunity, I just tried to make the most of it.”

Caldwell actually started the season as the Texans’ starter at right guard. In the first game of the season, he played all 69 snaps. Since then, he lost snaps and then the starting role to rookie Ben Jones, out of Georgia.

Caldwell had been rotating with Jones at the right guard spot until he hurt his hamstring against Detroit. After that, Brooks has slowly been transitioning to fill his role – as the other player in the rotation with starter Jones.

“Obviously every rookie has his learning curve,” veteran center Chris Myers said. “Brandon is an unbelievable athlete. With as big as he is and as athletic as he is, to have that learning curve, once he starts understanding the game and gets that mental part down, the physical part will be there.”

Part of Brooks’ and Jones’ picking up the offense and offensive blocking scheme has come from learning the center position in the offense. Jones played center his whole time at Georgia and Brooks spent a few weeks working as scout team center earlier this season.

“There’s a lot more talking that goes on,” Myers said. “But the fact that Ben Jones played all training camp at center, him being able to understand the whole line as a center helps him out at guard a bit.”

Brooks said that his time at center for scout team “drastically” helped him. He was able to set everyone up and make the line calls, which he said made it easier to understand the line as a whole. It also helps to have a guy like Jones in front of him.

“I really lean on Ben a lot,” Brooks said. “As far as from a playbook standpoint, I say he has it down just as good as any guy we have up front.”

Myers said that there has been more communication this season on his part, especially on the right side of the offensive line. With the two rookies at right guard and Derek Newton, another young player, at right tackle, it has taken some time to nail down communication.

“With guys being gone now, you understood that there’s going to be a lot more communication on the offensive line,” Myers said. “Especially at the right tackles spot and right guard, there have been five guys transitioning in and out of there. There’s a lot more talking that goes on.”

While Brooks has transitioned into the role as the rotational player at guard, he hasn’t yet hit his playing time peak, according to head coach Gary Kubiak. In fact, Kubiak has been so impressed with Brooks’ recent production, he said Brooks will continue to play more.

“I knew that if I progressed, I knew things would happen,” Brooks said. “I knew that in order for me to get reps, I would need to show it over and over again at practice.”

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