Wide receiver Jacoby Jones returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders last season, one of three return touchdowns in his career.
The following article contains excerpts from the 2010 Houston Texans Yearbook, the Texans' official season preview magazine, that goes on sale July 30 at Texans Training Camp, presented by Comcast, and the *Go Texan Store at Reliant Stadium.*
SPECIAL TEAMS Who's here: K Kris Brown, K Neil Rackers, P Matt Turk, KR Jacoby Jones, KR Trindon Holliday, KR André Davis, KR Glenn Martinez, LS Joel Dreessen, LS Jon Weeks
Who's new:Rackers (free agent signing), Holliday (rookie draft pick), Weeks (free agent signing)
Who's gone:LS Bryan Pittman
Kris Brown, the only kicker in team history, will battle free agent addition Neil Rackers through training camp and the preseason for the Texans' kicking job. The career numbers for the two kickers are nearly identical: Brown has made 252-of-326 attempts (77.3 percent) in 11 seasons, while Rackers has made 205-of-262 attempts (78.2 percent) in 10 seasons.
Brown made a career-high 87.9 percent (29-of-33) of his field goal attempts in 2008, but he made a career-low 65.6 percent (21-of-32) in 2009. He did pass the 1,000-career point plateau last season and made two game-winning field goals.
Rackers is 41-of-45 (91.1 percent) on field goal attempts since 2008, including 16-of-17 in 2009. He set the NFL single-season record for field goals with 40 in 2005, when he also made the Pro Bowl and was named first-team All-Pro.
"They're both fine kickers, and it's going to be a great competition," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "One of them is going to kick for us and the other one is going to be kicking somewhere else. They're two quality kickers, and we're lucky to have that type of competition in our camp."
Punter Matt Turk, a 14-year veteran, averaged a franchise-record 42.8 yards per punt last season. The Texans allowed the fewest punt return yards in the NFL with only 104, an average of 4.3 per return. Linebacker Kevin Bentley, a special teams co-captain, recorded 20 special teams tackles to lead the team in that category for the second consecutive season. He set a Texans record with 23 special teams tackles in 2008.
Jacoby Jones solidified his status as one of the most explosive kick returners in the game in 2009. He averaged 10.9 yards per punt return and also returned 24 kickoffs for a 26.6-yard average, including a 95-yard touchdown return against the Oakland Raiders. He has three return touchdowns in his three-year career.
Trindon Holliday will vie with Jones for return duties. Holliday (5-5, 165) is the shortest player in Texans history, and he just might be the fastest, too. He clocked a 4.34-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, and he won the 2009 NCAA 100-meter sprint championship with a time of 10.00 seconds. Wide receivers André Davis and Glenn Martinez are veteran options who have had success as kick returners in their respective careers.
Tight end Joel Dreessen was the Texans' long snapper for most of last season. He was relieved of those duties late in the year because of a litany of injuries at tight end, which is still a concern with Owen Daniels and Anthony Hill on the mend from ACL injuries. Jon Weeks, who signed with the Texans in April, is the lone long snapper specialist on the Texans' roster entering training camp.
Spotlight on: Trindon Holliday Coach's commentary
"Hopefully, we'll get to a point where teams don't kick to him. That means he's doing real good. The kid obviously has speed, and for his stature, he has toughness. Big guys won't be able to catch him, so I'm not worried about him lasting. He's not going to take many big hits. We'll design some returns that meet his abilities. I think our guys will be excited to block for him and get him a crease, and if he gets a crease then he has a chance to be very, very explosive. He's as fast as the fastest in the league."
- Special teams coordinator Joe Marciano