With Smith injured, Texans have battle at LG

With Smith injured, Texans have battle at LG
August 16, 2013, 10:00 am
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(USA Today Images)

Without Pro Bowl left guard Wade Smith, the Texans have a battle at the left guard position.

Smith had a bone bruise on his knee that eventually required an arthroscopic surgery this week. While he’s out, Ben Jones will start the preseason game on Saturday but rookie sixth-round pick David Quessenberry is battling for time too.

“Actually, (Quessenberry) and Jones are basically splitting reps so it’s a competitive situation with Wade out and we’ll see what happens,” head coach Gary Kubiak said on Thursday. “But Ben’s been having a very good camp. (Quessenberry) has probably come as far as any young offensive lineman we’ve had in a while. So it’s going to be a competitive situation.”

Jones was a fourth-round pick out of Georgia last season. He was a center in college but with Chris Myers’ manning that position in Houston, the Texans switched Jones to guard. After Antoine Caldwell began the season as a starter at right guard, Jones eventually won the job, starting from Game 7 on.

But coming into training camp this season, Jones lost that starting job to Brandon Brooks, who rotated in last year and began to make strong strides. He hasn’t done anything to lose that job in camp and it’s looked like a good decision to go with Brooks.

“It just makes me more motivated,” Jones said of losing his starting job. “You just want to come out here and compete and just come out here and do everything you can do to get back there so that you can start again.”

Jones was a center in college and has played that position with the Texans during practice. He said knowing the center position has helped him learn both right guard and left guard positions, because the center needs to know what everyone one the line is doing.

Jones said switching from left guard to right guard to center throughout practices sometimes makes it difficult to get enough practice at each position but he makes it work. The biggest challenge isn’t mental, it’s technique as the respective positions.

“You just have to take the mental reps and anytime you’re on the downside after practice, you can get a couple extra reps on the sled and stuff like that just to work on your technique,” he said. “You never know when you’re gonna be called upon. Hey, you might only get one shot to show you can play this position so you gotta be ready.”

Like Jones, Qussenberry didn’t play guard in college either. The sixth-round pick from San Jose State was a tackle in college and has played there some with the Texans already. But now with an injury concern at guard, he’s learning that too.

“I played tackle in college. And playing guard here is really not that much different, just a couple feet,” Quessenberry said. “Just know my plays and go out and execute when I’m called upon and go out and win.”

He doesn’t feel more comfortable at either position.

Quessenberry admitted that learning two positions while transitioning from the college game to the NFL has added some extra work but he actually thinks it’s helping him to learn the playbook and how the line functions as a whole.

He’s leaned on some of the veterans like Duane Brown and Myers for advice, but he’s also asked Brooks and Jones for advice too. Those last two are able to remember their rookie season from a year ago and can help accordingly.

It didn’t take Quessenberry long to start impressing the Texans’ coaches. He looked good in rookie camp, OTAs and finally training camp, just like he knew he would.

“I knew as soon as I got an opportunity to show my stuff, someone would be impressed,” he said. “Luckily, here they gave me that opportunity; they drafted me. In OTAs and camp, they let me show my skills. There’s still a lot of football to play but I feel like I’ve been doing my job so far.”