*Here are five things to watch when the Texans hit the practice fields Saturday for the start of training camp.
1. Slot spot- Head coach Bill O’Brien and wide receiver Wes Welker both arrived in New England in 2007. O’Brien was an assistant that year, while Welker would pile up 112 catches for 1,175 yards and eight touchdowns. O’Brien saw firsthand how integral the slot receiver position was to an offense, and will likely place an emphasis on it in Houston.
Whoever rises to the top of that group has a chance to be a major impact on the offense in 2014 and beyond.
2. Kicker battle-
Last August, he wasn’t challenged in training camp. This year, however, rookie free agent
Special teams coordinator Bob Ligashesky will get a better look at them during camp and in the preseason games.
3. Savage vs Keenum-
How many reps Savage gets, and how many snaps in the four preseason contests will be a good gauge on how rapidly he’s digesting the playbook and speed of the NFL game.
For Keenum, who started eight games last autumn, this July and August are somewhat similar to last year, when he battled Yates for the backup spot. The NCAA’s all-time passing yardage leader repeatedly said how enthused he is with the new playbook and the opportunity in front of him, and spent the last month or so throwing with the receivers, tight ends and running backs during sessions at his alma mater, Houston.
4. Inside linebackers-
He’s joined by Dent, as well as
Without Cushing on the field, Tuggle took a lot of reps with the first team during that time, and had to call the plays. He also said he’s spent a great deal of time picking linebackers coach Mike Vrabel’s brain during the day, and his former NFL-standout father Jesse Tuggle’s at night.
5. Clowney progress- The first pick in the draft went through rookie minicamp and the bulk of OTAs
But he wasn't listed on Monday's PUP list, while fellow rookie Louis Nix, III was. That likely means the healing process and rehab have gone well enough to allow Clowney to hit the practice field on Saturday morning when camp begins. Whether or not he's actually in a helmet with his teammates, or taking part in conditioning work on a side field with trainers will be a question answered on Saturday.
Regardless, he'll rejoin the practices at some point during camp. His switch from defensive end as a South Carolina Gamecock to outside linebacker as a professional will be fascinating to observe.