By: Matt Hammond @MattHammondShow
There’s being in shape, and then there’s being in football shape.
After their first day of fully padded training camp practices Friday at The Greenbrier in West Virginia, Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien stressed the importance of the latter for his team.
“The big thing is football shape,” he said. “You can run around a track all you want during the summertime with no pads on, but when you get the pads on and you’re still playing at a high level, speed-wise, it’s different.”
O’Brien didn’t appear to be talking about Duane Brown, whose contract holdout continued on Friday, but his comment does raise some pressing questions about the situation.
How long until he shows up to camp?
Will he be ready for the regular season?
NFL history is littered with examples of players who held out in July and August, and as a result, struggled from September on.
Darrelle Revis didn’t report for the New York Jets until Sept. 6 in 2010. Chris Johnson was a no show for the Tennessee Titans until Sept. 2 in 2011. Kam Chancellor took it a step further, missing the Seattle Seahawks first two regular season games in 2014.
None were the same player that season.
Brown, who’s 31 years old, entering his 10th NFL season and is only a year removed from a season-ending quad tear, would have already been worth watching this season for age-related decline.
Now? It’s almost the likelihood.
That could spell trouble for the Texans.
At quarterback, they’ll be starting either Tom Savage, who’s suffered major injuries in each of his first three NFL seasons, or Deshaun Watson, who’ll be taking his first snaps in a pro style offense. And the offensive line already had a glaring hole last season, thanks to Derek Newton’s injury and Chris Clark’s sub par performance in relief at right tackle.
With Brown out, that leaves Clark, fourth-round rookie Julien Davenport, veteran Kendall Lamm and former Jets tackle Breno Giacomini to fill out both tackle spots.
Barring something unforeseen, Brown can’t get back soon enough.
“I just want to make sure that these guys are working back into football shape, and I think we have a team that’s in very, very good condition for this time of the year, but we have to keep that. That’s the big thing you’re looking for on the first day of pads.”