With the first practice for the Houston Texans at Training Camp in West Virginia on Tuesday Mike Meltser and Seth Payne take a look at what to expect for Training Camp this year and bring you their 5 predictions.
Who is under the most pressure?
Seth: Jaelen Strong. He’s entering year three, and the Texans have historically had players emerge in that season (Kareem Jackson, Derek Newton). Strong has the prototypical size for the receiver. There are a lot of snaps and a lot of targets available for him this season, but he has to step up.
Mike: Xavier Su’a-Filo. He’s fighting for his career, sort of. XSF has been an overall disappointment, although a positive spin on his last season or two could be that he’s shown flashes while being inconsistent. Su’a-Filo will have competition for his spot at left guard and will be a free agent at the end of the 2017 season.
Who’s the most likely player to breakout or emerge as a significant contributor?
Seth: Braxton Miller. For three reasons: health, experience, and the addition of Wes Welker as a coach. Also, Bill O’Brien being the actual offensive coordinator should help Miller a lot. I don’t know that he’s going to be Welker, and probably would tell you that he won’t be, but I expect him to be a lot better than he was last season.
Mike: Tyler Ervin. He appeared to have a good offseason and seemed to play with more confidence. The Texans could always use all the help they can get on special teams, and he was spotty with ball security in 2016. If Ervin develops, he can contribute on both special teams and on offense.
Who is most likely to be a disappointment?
Seth: By the probability book—Deshaun Watson. Otherwise, Zach Cunningham. The reason I select Watson is because of the simple odds; most quarterbacks who are drafted don’t turn into really good NFL quarterbacks. Why Cunningham? I’m nervous about some of the things he didn’t do in college, namely his issues with tackling. It doesn’t get easier to tackle guys in the NFL. He does have all of the measurables.
Mike: D’Onta Foreman. I wouldn’t necessarily predict it, but his offseason got off to a shaky start by showing up possibly overweight, and then getting arrested in July in Austin. The Texans have had a history of some drafted players who took time to establish themselves after battling conditioning issues early in their careers, including Brandon Brooks and Strong.
Bigger Number: JJ Watt sacks or Tom Savage starts?
Seth: JJ Watt sacks. I base this on his hobbled start last year. In 3 games last season, when Watt wasn’t himself, he still had 1.5 sacks. He was able to do that through technique and guile. I would be surprised this year if he didn’t have at least ten sacks.
Mike: JJ Watt sacks. This isn’t with a ton of confidence, but my guess on Savage starts will be around 8-10. Our friend Matt Weston at Battle Red Blog had a good write-up on how long he thinks Watson will remain on the bench.
If Watt stays healthy, I think he will find a way to eek over that 8-1o total.
It seems that our listenership was heavily on one side of this particular question:
Who could be the most surprising cut?
Seth: Stephen Anderson. He would be the F-type tight end.
Mike: Jeff Allen. The Texans wouldn’t save much money, but this could happen if a Greg Mancz type steps up at RG and wins a competition, and Allen remains a disappointment. I wouldn’t bet on this, though.