Sean Pendergast

Four Most Significant Developments From Houston Texans Training Camp

C.J. Stroud is everything the Texans thought they were getting on draft night, and more.
C.J. Stroud is everything the Texans thought they were getting on draft night, and more. Photo by Eric Sauseda
As the ongoing roster cuts with the Houston Texans continue to rain down up until 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, the dust has settled from training camp, the first camp of the DeMeco Ryans Era. Like training camp in any season, there were some very positive developments for the Texans, but also some disturbing ones.

As we count down the days until the 2023 Houston Texans participate in a REAL NFL game, in Week 1 at Baltimore, let's dissect the most significant developments from 2023 training camp for the Houston Texans, understanding that "significant' can mean significantly good OR significantly bad. Here we go, starting with the bad:

4. Kenyon Green still is trending toward "bust".
For the second straight season, Green was coming into the offseason activities recovering from an injury, and that's been a huge theme for Green's 16 months as a Texan, so far — he can't stay healthy. Perhaps that's the reason why his play has been so poor, or at least a contributing reason why. At this point, the reasons matter less and less, though. The fact of the matter is, as of right now, Green just is not a good football player, and on Sunday night, he was running with the backups, and not running well:
Nick Caserio's using the 15th overall pick in 2022 on Green seemed, to me, like a bit of a reach at the time, based on positional value of guards versus almost any other position. The fact that Green has been a failure to this point only exacerbates the pain of the selection. Also, it doesn't help that the pick they used on Green was, essentially, one of the picks they received in the Deshaun Watson trade. There is still time for Green to reach his potential, but DeMeco Ryans clearly doesn't care about how high a draft pick Green was. If Green doesn't deserve to play, he won't.

3. Derek Stingley had no medical hiccups
Then, there is the Houston Texans' other first round pick from 2022, the third overall selection, cornerback Derek Stingley, Jr. Like Green, Stingley was drafted (much higher than Green) with a well earned "injury prone" label. After being perhaps the best cornerback in the nation in 2019, as a true freshman at LSU, Stingley played in just ten games over two seasons in 2020 and 2021. Once drafted, Stingley was miscast in Lovie Smith's zone heavy coverage scheme in 2022, and then missed the second half of the season with a hamstring injury. (Wow, who could have seen THAT coming!) Fortunately, Stingley made it through all of camp this season healthy, and more importantly, he looks like he is ready to take a big step forward in 2023. This is great news for Texans fans who are still angry that Nick Caserio didn't draft Sauce Gardner (2022 Defensive Rookie of the Year) last spring.

2. This rookie class is primed to contribute right away.
The cornerstone of this rookie class is, of course, C.J. Stroud. That's just the inherent math of drafting a quarterback with the second overall pick, so we will talk about Stroud in a minute. The great news is that the remainder of this rookie class, by and large, is either on schedule or ahead of schedule to contribute to this team in a big, big way. Will Anderson is the favorite to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year, and that looks correct, thus far. Beyond that, the class has at least two more starters (or starter equivalents) in center Juice Scruggs and wide receiver Tank Dell, while linebacker Henry To'o To'o should, at minimum, be in the linebacker rotation and contribute on special teams. Additionally, sixth round wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson looks like he may have slipped through the draft cracks.

1. C.J. Stroud has the makings of "the man."
Of course, the quality for the rookie class overall will be determined by Stroud's progress. For any rookie class that includes a quarterback, the quality of the quarterback is like the final exam in a college course — it counts for, like, two thirds of your grade. Throughout camp, Stroud has consistently shown an ability to internalize and learn from his mistakes. He's been far from perfect, but he's an eager learner, and the boxes on his scouting report that had high grades coming into the draft process all appear to be accurate — ball placement, leadership skills, mechanics. Also, his athleticism is probably slightly underrated. In short, if the offensive line gives Stroud time, he should have a decent rookie season, and if he has the Texans mathematically still in the playoff hunt in December, that is major progress.

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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