The Texans complete the pre-training camp portion of their offseason this week, with a couple of mandatory minicamp workouts over at their training facility across the street from NRG Stadium. From there, the players will go their separate ways for several weeks before reconvening for training camp in late July, this year for the first time in Houston since 2016. (We will miss you, West Virginia!)
As I am about to list things that I will be watching for at these sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, I will be realistic —- Bill O'Brien's first press conference since the firing of general manager Brian Gaine will be far more of a main event than anything any player will do during these padless, non-contract practice sessions. So maybe I should call these the "Four Things To Watch For At Texans Mandatory Minicamp OTHER THAN BILL O'BRIEN TELLING US WHERE ALIGNMENT WENT WRONG!"
So here are the non-O'Brien things that intrigue me the most for Tuesday and Wednesday:
4. Watson continued seizing of title of “The Man” in this team
Maybe it's been the absences of J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins (at least at the OTA sessions I've been to), not to mention the absence of Jadeveon Clowney, thus making Deshaun Watson, far and away, the biggest star at these offseason activities, but this has truly felt like an offseason where Watson is taking the reins of the team. It's becoming HIS team. On top of that, he has looked crisp and in charge during all of the open throwing sessions, whether it's been 11-on-11 or just drills. I'm VERY excited for 2019 Watson.
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3. Offensive line — Tytus Howard development, is the specter of Trent Williams looming as left tackle solution?
Well, the general manager who selected them is gone, but Tytus Howard and Max Scharping remain a huge part of any progress the Texans will make along the offensive line. There are no pads at these practices, so the intrigue comes in (a) where the players are going to be lined up along the line (Nameless Hint: It's been pretty much everyone lining up everywhere these first few weeks.), and (b) how the players are grasping the mental side of the game. Also, a big topic in the chatter area (a/k/a the assembled media horde) at practice today will be whether a new general manager means a run at Washington Redskins tackle Trent Williams in a trade.
2. No Clowney, so how does Whitney Mercilus look?
We mentioned the absence of Clowney above, and unless the new general manager has a drastically differing opinion on the sixth year defensive end, it would appear we are on our way to a Clowney-less training camp. SO the time is now for Whitney Mercilus to regain the form and buzz he had back in 2015 and 2016, when he was productive enough to be considered one of the biggest bargains in the league. With Clowney gone, there should be plenty of reps for Mercilus at his more comfortable edge rusher spot, and keep him away from playing the bizarre inside linebacker spot he was playing for significant chunks of last season.
1. Secondary under siege
We've listed the opposing quarterbacks on the 2019 schedule plenty of times, enough times to where, like me, you have them committed to memory
and you are seeing them in your sleep, waking up in cold sweat on a nightly basis. Like the offensive line, the Texans' fix of the secondary has not seen any no-brainer, immediate impact moves. The closest thing in either position group, offensive line and secondary, to a quick fix is Bradley Roby, a former first round cornerback who was signed on a Tyrann Mathieu-esque one year, prove-it deal. Roby has been hobbled in his first few weeks as a Texan, so hopefully he will get back on the field so we can see how he looks in coverage.