Shooting the Bull: Texans training camp kicks off
Rookie third-round pick Brennan Williams and incumbent starter Derek Newton were both back at practice on Friday after long absences.
The rookie out of North Carolina injured his knee early this spring and missed all of OTAs and the mandatory mini camp.
“I’m a guy who hates watching,” Williams said. “You get the mental reps and all that but there’s only so much you can do with that. Today, they were trying to ease me back into it. I got to go in here and I feel good, feel ready to go.”
Newton is also returning from a knee injury and a surgery this offseason. He also had to watch during the spring workouts. On Friday, he declared that he was 100 percent.
“It was hard,” Newton said. “There were days it was frustrating for me. I had to sit back and wait for my time to come.”
Williams was placed on the Active/PUP earlier this week but said it was more of a precaution after he had an offseason surgery (cleanout) on his knee. The team explained that as long as he looked good and healthy, he would be removed from the list. He was taken off the list on Thursday but was eased into action on Friday.
“I know when I’m good and I think I’m good,” Williams said breaking into a smile. “You know, if I gotta cuss somebody out when I get back to the training room, I’m gonna be practicing full-go tomorrow.”
Williams also said the team told him he’s still in competition for the right tackle spot with Derek Newton. The team won’t hold being a rookie or his injury against him.
“We’re very talented there, but we’ve got a lot of work to do because we missed a great deal of time,” head coach Gary Kubiak said of the right tackle battle. “We’ve got to have some patience here as we get them both to full speed. We have a young player in (David) Quessenberry who we think can go out and compete, but we don’t want to run him all over the place right now, so we’re starting him inside and we’ll see what happens. But we’ve got to get them both to where they’re 100 percent, competing every day and then see what happens.”
Newton was the starter last season and showed some good signs. “I feel like I did some good things here and there but there are still some things I have to do to prove myself,” he said.
Kubiak said if the season started on Friday, veteran backup Ryan Harris would be the starter because Newton and Williams aren’t totally back. Harris returned to the Texans on a one-year deal but he’s supposed to be the backup. He rotated with starter Newton last season.
While Harris would be the starter if the season began now, it would be surprising if he was the starter when the season does start on Sept. 9. Newton and Williams have 44 days until the start of the season.
The right tackle spot and the ride side of the line was a problem for the Texans last season. They rotated at both the right guard and right tackle positions and struggled, while their center, left guard and left tackle all went to the Pro Bowl.
“I think the criticism was necessary,” All-Pro left tackle Duane Brown said about the right side. “The offensive line is where it starts in the running game and passing game. When you’re not playing up to a certain level, it’s definitely gonna show. And that’s what’s going to happen.
“We had young guys over there that were learning on the go and guys that couldn’t really get a rhythm because they rotated so much. So I think with this offseason, we’re going to get two solid guys over there that are able to play together and get that chemistry going and it will definitely show.”
Brandon Brooks is expected to be the starting right guard. He’s been working there the most in practice and is trying to make sure he solidifies the job and plays most of the snaps once the season comes.
But right tackle is still up in the air. Missing time as a rookie certainly hasn’t helped Williams, which makes it seem like the job is Newton’s to lose. But on Friday, Newton acknowledged that there is a competition going on for the starting job.
“I feel like I’m always in a competition,” Newton said. “We have four great tackles, so nobody’s job is ever secure. You have to come out every day and give it your all.”