The Houston Texans are a day away from getting on the field starting a two-day joint practice with the Detroit Lions. This week is an essential marker for the Texans as they continue to evaluate the roster moving forward. On who they will need and potentially who on other rosters they will target to help fill critical voids in their current roster.
Which Texans players have the most to gain or lose from this week's work against the Lions? We take a look at current names on the roster.
Wide Receiver Shuffle
The Texans wide receiver group seems to be established for the most part but with the recent injury to Keke Coutee and fear that it could push to the regular season. The Texans are trying to sort out their group outside of DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller.
The combination of Steven Mitchell Jr., Vyncint Smith, Tyron Johnson, and DeAndre Carter will be the group trying to figure out who will help at the slot position and on the outside. Mitchell and Carter have received work at the slot with Mitchell getting the early starter reps with Coutee out. Smith and Johnson have had their primary work on the outside. Johnson has a little more versatility with the ability to bump inside on occasion.
The Texans will have to decide whether to take five or six wide receivers with them to the season, but the pecking order has to be sorted out. Mitchell and Smith have to clean up their drops. The two have struggled to be consistent pass-catchers despite the coaching staff, giving them multiple opportunities.
As for Carter, it is about getting back on the field and into the swing of things. He missed so much time for an undisclosed injury. He is the favorite to land the backup slot position and primary return job. The rookie, Johnson, has to make a jump against an opponent. He has shown his big-play ability, but he has to continue to refine his ability to read coverages and being on the same page with the quarterback.
Rookie Has to Solidify His Spot
Damarea Crocket has impressed the coaching staff to this point of camp for the running back group. Crockett is going to have to continue showing he has an understanding of the offense. Crockett has shown he can run the football at this level, where he has to win in pass protection and knowing where to be helping protect the quarterback.
Crockett has had highlights running the football and catching it. He is going to have to show his all-around game, especially when the football is not in his hands.
Jordan Thomas Needs to Reclaim His Role
The imposing second-year tight end Jordan Thomas has been out for two weeks after sustaining a hamstring injury he suffered in training camp. Since that point, Thomas has seen both Jordan Akins and Darren Fells jump him in the offense.
Thomas did not take part in joint practices with the Texans in Green Bay. Now he has to show that he can get back into his offensive role being a viable target for Deshaun Watson. Thomas showed early in camp that he can control the middle of the field in the passing game and now is his time to show that again against the Lions.
Needing to Stop the Red Flags at Left Tackle
The concern with Matt Kalil is how training camp practices have piled on him, and his play has gone down since day one. Some will say the Texas heat, or he is getting his body ready, but there is still plenty of concern to pay attention to.
When paded practiced started on Kalil struggled with Whitney Mercilus and J.J. Watt, and it has progressively gotten worse. Add in some struggles in Green Bay, the issues for Kalil range from overall playing strength to slowing speed and power rushers down to down.
Some thought processes will attempt to say wait until the regular season but the regular season remains a grind and injuries will mount. If training camp is only in week three, what will the story be like for Kalil starting a left tackle midway through the season with more wear and tear on his body?
Joint practices is another test for the Texans to get one final look at him in a setting that will give them clear answers on Kalil. Even though there have been plenty along the way.
Also, add in Roderick Johnson and how he fits into the picture of the offensive line. The Texans know what they have in Julién Davenport, but they are careful with him after sustaining a knee issue early in camp and trying to get him healthy. The Texans feel they have something with Johnson at offensive tackle and if they can get any returns from him at the position that would be a welcomed sight for the offense.
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