This Houston Texans training camp has been marked by enthusiasm over certain developments (J.J. Watt all the way back to Peak Watt, Deshaun Watson being Deshaun Watson, and all those weapons on offense) and concern over others (Matt Kalil, Matt Kalil, and oh, did I mention, Matt Kalil?),
Perhaps the most underrated encouraging thing about camp this season, though — man, I will probably regret tempting the football gods by saying this — the Texans are a really, really healthy football team. It's a good thing, too, because they will need to remain relatively healthy to navigate this schedule. Health with their key players was a big reason the Texans went 11-5 in 2019.
(Again, I'll appeal to the football gods, please don't punish me or the city of Houston for mentioning health. I know it's like mentioning a no hitter while it's going on. Somewhere, there's probably a Chargers blogger in Los Angeles who wrote a post for the 32 Charger fans in town, basking in the glow of Derwin James' health, and then two days later, James had foot surgery.)
Still, there are some banged up Texans, as well as some being handled with kid gloves, so let's take an inventory of the squad, and gauge our concern level over the Week 1 availability of these injured (or slightly coddled) Texans heading into the back end of training camp. We will do this on a scale of 1 to 10, and include all of the players who missed the game this past Saturday (and add in the players who got banged up in that game).
S Tashaun Gipson Sr.
DE/NT D.J. Reader
RB Lamar Miller
CB Johnathan Joseph
DE J.J. Watt
These are all veteran players who were held out on Saturday and back at practice on Monday. Barring something unforeseen, all are locks to be in the starting lineup in a couple weeks.
T Matt Kalil
Kalil is clearly banged up in some fashion, as he's missed extensive time over the last week, including Saturday's game, but my concern level is low because I'm low key hoping he needs to continue convalescing (possibly with another team). Long live Roderick Johnson!
C Nick Martin
Martin was back at practice on Monday after returning from a hamstring injury suffered during conditioning drills early in camp. I was fine with Zach Fulton at center, so whatever.
CB Lonnie Johnson Jr.
Johnson missed the game on Saturday, but was back at practice this week. Concern is above the minimum because he's had a couple nagging injuries during camp.
RB Duke Johnson
Johnson was back at practice on Tuesday and was moving very, very well. It's going to be exciting having him as a weapon with Deshaun Watson.
CB Xavier Crawford
CB Deante Burton
DE Johnny Dwight
S A.J. Moore
These are all young players who are fringe guys, and whose exact injuries I don't know, so I can't say I'm super concerned.
DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney
Sure, it's not an injury, but I am mildly concerned that Clowney might sit out a game or two to send a message to the Texans. It wouldn't be wise, but at this point, this relationship has veered into a slightly bizarre state.
G Tytus Howard
Howard came out of Saturday's game with a broken finger. O'Brien said on Monday he should be ready for Week 1.
WR Will Fuller V
Fuller is fully healthy, but by definition, because he's Will Fuller and he is always injured (it seems), concern must be at a minimum of 3.0 always.
DE Carlos Watkins
I'm not sure exactly what Watkins is dealing with, but if he doesn't come back soon, he may not even be on the team in Week 1, let alone suiting up in New Orleans.
TE Kahale Warring
Warring started camp on the Non Football Injury list, which embedded him in O'Brien's doghouse. Then he came back for the practices in Green Bay, where he was promptly concussed and placed in concussion protocol, following in the footsteps of frequent concussion recipient tight ends C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin.
QB A.J. McCarron
McCarron hurt his hand in one of the joint practices in Green Bay. The hope is that he will be back for the regular season, but my concern level is higher on this one than normal, because we are one bad block by Matt Kalil away from the Joe Webb Playground Show in New Orleans.
C/G Greg Mancz
Mancz was banged up against the Packers, and has yet to return, so we'll see.
S Justin Reid
Reid left practice on Thursday with a shoulder injury, missed the game on Saturday, and missed practice this week. Reid is one of the ten most important players on this team, and the secondary can't afford any medical shakiness at safety. It has enough regular shakiness at cornerback.
WR Keke Coutee
Coutee hurt his leg slipping on the turf in Green Bay. Given that he missed most of his rookie year with hamstring injuries, I am going to err to the side of worrying heavily on any lower extremity injuries with Coutee.
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And let's hope that they the 9.0 and 10.0 slots remain vacant.