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Houston Texans

2012 Texans Season Preview: Special Teams


Season Preview: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB
Coach's Commentary: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB |ST

With ongoing position battles at kicker, punter and kick returner, long snapper is the Texans' only settled position on special teams entering training camp.

At kicker, rookie fifth-round draft pick Randy Bullock is competing with 12th-year veteran Shayne Graham. Bullock, the 2011 Lou Groza Award winner at Texas A&M, was the first kicker ever drafted by the Texans. Graham, who has played in 12 games over the past two seasons, has made 85.9 percent (214-of-249) of his career field goals, which makes him the fourth-most accurate kicker in NFL history.

"Obviously, we've got one kicker who's kicked in the NFL for years and then you've got one who's very, very young that we're counting on big-time," coach Gary Kubiak said during OTAs. "We've got to create a team environment that puts some pressure on them and so their teammates see that the best man wins the job."

At punter, a competition looms between Donnie Jones, a ninth-year veteran who signed with the Texans in March, and Brett Hartmann, an undrafted free agent in 2011. Hartmann is suspended for the first three games of the season because of a failed drug test, and he was unable to participate in OTAs and mini-camp after tearing his ACL last season in Week 13.

Hartmann averaged 37.8 net yards per punt as a rookie and set a team record with 23 touchbacks on kickoffs. Jones has a career net average of 38.8 yards per punt and has extensive holder experience. He spent the last five seasons with the St. Louis Rams and ranked in the top four in the NFL in net average each season from 2007-10.

The Texans cut longtime returner Jacoby Jones this offseason, and safety Danieal Manning is unlikely to return kickoffs because of his importance to the defense. Rookie wide receiver Keshawn Martin, an All-Big Ten returner at Michigan State, is among the leading candidates to return kicks in 2012.

Long snapper Jon Weeks is in his third season with the Texans. The former Baylor walk-on and undrafted free agent has not had an errant snap in his NFL career.

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