Reporting Paul Gallant
With wide receiver Andre Johnson nursing an injured groin, the youngster wide-outs have been making the most of their opportunities at Texans training camp.
Friday morning was no different. Lestar Jean made a circus catch over a defensive back on a deep post. And DeVier Posey showed off his skills with a beautiful diving snag for six in the redzone.
But a week into camp, Keshawn Martin has consistently outshined his colleagues. And the work has paid off, as the rookie out of Michigan State practiced with the first-team offense today.
“I think he’s showing that he’s capable of doing it,” said head coach Gary Kubiak. “There are some growing pains, there are some things that he’s got to go through, but he’s very professional in his approach.”
He isn’t big like Jean and Posey. In fact, at 5’11, Martin is one of only two sub-six-foot receivers on roster (5’5 Trindon Holliday the other). But what he lacks in size, he more than makes up for with big play potential.
“He’s got great speed,” said Kubiak. “He can catch some little ones and turn them into real big ones. That’s what you look for in the pass game. You don’t have time to sit back there and wait on things to get way down the field, but you can throw a slam a guy can make somebody miss and go to the house, that’s what you want.”
“As a quarterback, the best thing you can do is throw a five yard route and turn it into a 30 yard gain,” said quarterback Matt Schaub. “The change in direction and the wiggle that he has in his routes really gives you that opportunity.”
Hell, he’s even caught Andre’s eye. Because he’s one-upping number 80.
“He doesn’t say anything,” said Johnson. “I thought I was quiet. He’s quieter than me.”
Silence aside – a rare trait for most wide receivers - Martin’s performance in camp has done a lot of talking.
“He really understands his role, really listens, and takes in all the information he can,” said Schaub. “He just makes plays. He creates a lot of separation from corners to give you a chance to make a throw.”
“He’s been having a great camp so far,” said Johnson. “I told him just keep working hard and doing what you’re doing.”
Who knows if Martin’s week of success will translate to the pre-season, let alone the games that actually matter. But it’s imperative that the Texans see at least one of their inexperienced wide receivers grow up quick. Especially if Johnson misses more time in 2012. One week into camp, Martin is that guy.