Sean Pendergast

Four Big Questions for Houston Texans Mandatory Minicamp This Week

We saw Tytus Howard at J.J. Watt's softball game, and he takes the football field this week
We saw Tytus Howard at J.J. Watt's softball game, and he takes the football field this week Photo by Sean Thomas
The final phase of the most eventful, most exciting offseason for the Houston Texans in franchise history takes place over at the Texans' practice fields across from NRG Stadium this week, with three mandatory minicamp sessions.

Barring an unforeseen player looking to rack up unnecessary fines choosing to stay away this week, it's expected that the entire team will be in attendance. Once this week is over, the players will be given the next five weeks off before returning in mid-July, earlier than usual because of the Texans' participation in the Hall of Fame Game in August 1.

With that in mind, here are four big questions for which we hope to get answers or some semblance of clarity over the next few days:

How does Tytus Howard look?
The 2023 year was an interesting one for Howard. On the positive hand, he got life changing wealth with a three-year, $54 million contract extension early in training camp. On the negative hand, he was forced to play left guard all season because of injuries to other players, and then he himself had his season ended with a knee injury that he suffered in November. Howard did not attend OTAs, so the only public look we've gotten of him was at J.J. Watt's charity softball game where he was actually moving and running pretty well. If Howard is actually participating in team drills this week at right tackle (his natural position) with the first team offense, this is a great sign.

How much fun will it be watching Diggs continue to build chemistry in this offense?
With a new player like Diggs, the question at this stage might be more about IF he's able to build chemistry early on, but Diggs has already been working out with C.J. Stroud, and he was actually in attendance at the end of OTA's last week, which was a bit of a surprise, a pleasant surprise. So instead, I am assuming Diggs' building chemistry with Stroud and the offense as a given, and choose to gauge just how much fun it will be seeing the Texans and OC Bobby Slowik integrate Diggs into the offense.

Who heads into the summer leading at the second cornerback spot?
There aren't many starting spots still open to competition on this team, a sign that the talent level has certainly improved over the last year, but one job that is still an open audition is the stating cornerback spot opposite Derek Stingley, Jr.

The two names that are at the top of the audition list are former 2020 top ten draft picks, Jeff Okudan (3rd overall, Detroit) and C.J. Henderson (9th overall, Jacksonville), with rookie CB Kamari Lassiter, the Texans' top draft pick, lurking as a possibility, although he seems more likely to find work as the nickel cornerback.

Do we see signs of hope from Dameon Pierce?
In 2022, Pierce was one fo the only good reasons to watch Houston Texans football. His energy was infectious and his running style was inspiring, as he chose to run through defenders instead of eluding them. Pierce ran with self proclaimed "bad intentions," and we loved him for it. Fast forward to 2023, and Pierce was perhaps one of the biggest disappointments on the team, as he never really grasped Slowik's offense, and found himself getting literally zero snaps in playoff games.

Pierce is a really smart player, which makes last season's struggles all the more confusing, but he's come back this season looking great physically, and having spent the offseason studying where he most needs to improve. It will be interesting to see if we can glean any progress for Pierce from non-padded minicamp drills. I'm rooting for him.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast