The Houston Texans gear up for their 20th season in team history, and this season’s training camp figures to be one of the most competitive.
With holes to fill across the roster comes a bevy of competitors to fill those holes. General manager Nick Caserio has worked all offseason to assemble a roster that focuses on competition as the top priority. New coach David Culley’s job is to establish a culture that breeds such competition.
Here is a look at the eight position battles worth keeping an eye on as summertime winds down and the Texans get back to football.
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Can Davis Mills be better than Jeff Driskel? If he is, then how soon can he be better than Tyrod Taylor to replace him as the Texans’ starting quarterback? These are the questions that will surround Houston throughout camp regarding signal caller. As it stands, Taylor is on track to be the Week 1 starter.
2. Running back
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Mark Ingram has the most familiarity with David Culley from their past two seasons together with the Baltimore Ravens. However, David Johnson had the second-highest yards per carry of his career last year at 4.7, and he did score six rushing touchdowns and catch two others. There may be tread left on his tire. Phillip Lindsay, a two-time Pro Bowler with the Denver Broncos, had an off year in 2020 and seeks to take over as the feature back.
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Brandin Cooks, Chris Conley, and Randall Cobb are safe. It is Keke Coutee, Isaiah Coulter, Alex Erickson, Damon Hazelton, and Taywan Taylor that aren’t necessarily safe as third-rounder Nico Collins from Michigan figures to compete with them for snaps. The further Collins moves his way up the depth chart will determine who he pushes out by the end of preseason.
4. Tight end
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Nick Caserio told reporters on May 1 that one of the reasons they drafted Brevin Jordan in the fifth round, despite how heavy they were at tight end, was to create competition. “I’d say when you look at the team, it’s really about competition and it’s about creating opportunities,” Caserio said. “The players are going to create their opportunities. We have to get them on the team, right, however they get them here, right, you draft them, you sign them in free agency, you trade for them, whatever the case may be. Then once they’re here, ultimately the competition is going to dictate who plays, who doesn’t play and what their role is.” Jordan Akins could be safe despite the selection of Jordan. However, Kahale Warring, Paul Quessenberry, Ryan Izzo, and Pharaoh Brown are all on notice.
5. Right tackle
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The fate of the right tackle battle will determine how the offensive line is constructed. If Tytus Howard keeps right tackle, then the Texans may go with more traditional guards in Cole Toner and Lane Taylor. If Howard loses to Marcus Cannon, the Texans could kick him inside at a guard spot, which then relegates either of those two, who are already in a position battle with Max Scharping, to the bench.
6. Defensive end
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Whitney Mercilus does have experience playing as a down lineman, but that was in college 10 years ago. Former 2020 third-rounder Jonathan Greenard has similar experience, too, and it wasn’t that long ago for him. Jacob Martin also came from the Seattle Seahawks, where he played in a 4-3 defense. Houston also brought in Jordan Jenkins to come off the edge as well.
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Houston will have a big cornerback battle on its hands with Bradley Roby, Vernon Hargreaves, Terrance Mitchell, Desmond King, Keion Crossen, Tavierre Thomas, and John Reid. Roby figures to have one of the starting cornerback spots, but the rest of the group is up for grabs.
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Justin Reid has one of the starting jobs wrapped up. Who starts opposite of him? The intention is to utilize Lonnie Johnson’s length and height on the backend, but A.J. Moore, Jonathan Owens, and Eric Murray want their shots at being a starting safety, too.