On Tuesday morning the Texans kick off the first of 10 organized team activities (OTA). They take place at the Houston Methodist Training Center, and it’s the first time the rookies will work out with veterans on the field. Coming off a 2-14 campaign last season, with a brand new coaching staff in place, there are obviously many things to observe. One thing to keep in mind when reading all this: there’s not hitting, and very little contact during OTA’s. So it’s not the very best place to form an analysis. Here are 5 Things to Watch during OTA’s.
1. The Right Stuff- Derek Newton was the starter at this spot for the last two seasons, but he’ll likely be challenged by second-year lineman David Quessenberry. The latter missed all of 2013 after impressing during OTA’s last spring. Rookie second-rounder Xavier Su’a-Filo from UCLA is likely plugged in as the starter at left guard, but he played left tackle last year for the Bruins and is capable of playing at right tackle as well.
He might see some action there, but Quessenberry is the main challenger right now for Newton.
Second-year tackle Brennan Williams took part in the first day of rookie minicamp in May of 2013 before suffering a leg injury. He watched from the sidelines a few weeks ago when the Texans took part in offseason training.
2. Savage Not Solo- During the three-day minicamp last week, rookie Tom Savage was the only quarterback on the premises. Now, he’ll join the mix with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum and T.J. Yates. Those three have all started NFL games, and Fitzpatrick’s been in the League since 2005. The amount of reps Savage gets will be key, as the entire offense is learning a new system with head coach Bill O’Brien in place.
3. Young Receivers- Veteran Andre Johnson won’t likely take part in OTA’s, so everyone in the wide receiver corps will benefit from a few extra reps. DeAndre Hopkins managed to amass 802 receiving yards as a rookie. He’s the most accomplished of the pass-catchers without Johnson in the fold.
DeVier Posey’s had a star-crossed football journey over the last four years: in 2010 he started 13 games at Ohio State and wound up with 53 catches for 848 yards as a junior. He missed his senior season due to suspension, and played sparingly in 2012 as a rookie.
In December of that year he drew rave reviews from the coaching staff, based on what he was doing in practice. But in the playoff loss to the Patriots, he ruptured an Achilles. So last year was a comeback season, with just 15 catches for 155 yards. But he’s healthy now, and ready to compete for playing time. Also, the slot wide receiver position might be emphasized a bit more under O’Brien, so look out for Keshawn Martin and other challengers in Mike Thomas, Alan Bonner, EZ Nwachukwu and Travis Labhart.
4. Where is Brooks Reed?- His first three seasons in the NFL were spent at outside linebacker. But with the drafting of Jadeveon Clowney, and a thin inside linebacker rotation with Brian Cushing recovering from a knee injury, there’s a chance you’ll see Reed slide to the inside spot. He did so during OTA’s last year, but played the season on the outside.
5. All Eyes on Number One- Clowney was the first pick of the entire draft, so naturally he’ll draw the lion’s share of attention in this rookie class. How much he gets moved around, and how quickly he picks up the new defensive scheme employed by coordinator Romeo Crennel are two questions that will be answered to a degree over the next three weeks.