Texans Sign First Round Pick As Rookies Report to Camp: Five Players/Positions to Watch
The Texans got busy getting prepped for camp by signing first-round draft pick DeAndre Hopkins to a four-year deal (three years guaranteed) worth $7.62 million including a $3.92 million signing bonus Monday morning. Hopkins is expected to be the second wide receiver and the heir apparent to Andre Johnson.
The Texans have never had a player hold out in their entire history as a franchise, and it doesn't appear that will be an issue this year, either. While it was common to see players hold out 15 years ago, new rules and salary cap slots for the NFL have alleviated many of those issues.
Rookies reported to training camp on Sunday, with veterans scheduled to report on Thursday and the first workouts beginning on Friday.
Though we are only closing in on the end of July, the first preseason game for the Texans is two weeks from Friday on August 9. Their regular season opens one month later in San Diego on September 9.
For sports fans, the opening of training camp will no doubt be a welcome change from what has been a dismal baseball season for the Astros. And while the Rockets certainly left their mark on the summer with the signing of Dwight Howard, their training camp doesn't open for another two months.
With the Texans reloaded for another playoff run, an argument could be made that, barring significant injuries, they are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. But much remains to be seen from a crop of new talent mixed with veterans, including safety Ed Reed, who will miss much of camp after recovering from surgery.
For now, the position battles should be good, but here are five particularly interesting spots to watch as camp opens.
Third Wide Receiver With the two Andres seemingly sewing up the first and second receiver positions, it will be interesting to see who is able to be the next man up. Having a threat from Keshawn Martin, LeStar Jean or even Devir Posey, who was injured in the playoffs, will be a must as the long season wears on.
Ben Tate Tate is in a contract year and coming off another subpar season thanks to more injuries. He and Arian Foster have a chance to be the best running-back tandem in the NFL, but Tate must stay healthy, something he's been unable to do.
Right Tackle When there is no real frontrunner for a position, it usually means you don't have anyone particularly good. There are a handful of guys vying for the position, including Derek Newton and a group of rookies. Solidifying that side of the offensive line, especially after last year's inconsistencies and breakdowns, is a must.
Inside Linebacker Much has been made of the potential move of Brooks Reed to ILB. All reports indicate that probably won't happen and that some combination of Daryl Sharpton and Tim Dobbins will play alongside Brian Cushing on the interior. While this is a concern, the frequency with which the Texans go to nickel and dime coverage mitigates this somewhat. Still, if Sharpton can't stay healthy, it will create some issues for the defense.
Whitney Mercilus The sacks Mercilus got last year were largely due to his being in the right place at the right time. This year, he will need to improve and show he can shake off defenders. Speed on the outside is key to Wade Phillips's defense, and Mercilus must provide it if the Texans are to succeed on that side of the ball.
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