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2024 Surprise possibilities, backups & the next J.J.? | Fans Wanna Know


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Jacqueline Pellegrino: Dear Drew, Who do you think will surprise us the most this coming season and why?DD: This is a terrific question, and I'll give you five answers for it: Dalton Schultz, Brevin Jordan, Dameon Pierce, Jimmie Ward and a Player to Be Named Later. You can take it a lot of different directions. I could see the tight ends Schultz and Jordan being in the mix for this, because I could see the offense going through a maturation process, and the tight end being more involved. After all, quarterback C.J. Stroud was lethal with the deep ball in 2023, and I could see defenses doing everything in their might to take it away. If that were to happen, stuff underneath might open up and the Schultz/Jordan tandem could feast.

Pierce is a possibility for a few reasons. Perhaps with another offseason in the system he improves and adapts and looks more like he did his rookie season. Also, with the changes to the kickoffs rule, Pierce might get more of an opportunity to shine in that aspect of the game. We saw him take a kickoff back 98 yards for a score on Christmas Eve.

Ward is a pick because we were only able to see him in 10 starts last season. Injuries kept him out of other seven games, and forced early exits in two of his starts. But when he was out there, the team captain played well and was a difference-maker. The Texans were 6-4 in games he started, with his brightest performance coming in the home game against Denver. He ended that one by picking off Russell Wilson in the end zone. A healthier Ward could pay major dividends for the Texans in 2024.

But perhaps the easiest choice: someone who's not on the squad right now. Whether that's a rookie who's drafted or not, or a free agent the Texans have yet to sign.

***Jacqueline, you win the Texas Lottery Scratchoff tickets. Someone from the organization will soon email you about this. Congrats!***

Gary Ruther: Dear Drew, What's up with Pierce? What is the status of his overall health?
DD: He wasn't listed on the injury report late in the season and should be healthy and ready to rock for the start of offseason conditioning in mid-April. He and Joe Mixon are the most-experienced running backs currently on the Texans roster. 

Michael Orr: Dear Drew, Why isn't there more talk of drafting the next J.J.? Braden Fiske of FSU has that look. He's very quick off the ball and his motor doesn't stop. Also, why won't we draft a fleet-footed running back?
DD: There's only one J.J. Watt, Michael. But Fiske is a tantalizing prospect. The defensive lineman erupted for three sacks in the Seminoles' ACC title game win, and then wowed scouts the week of the Senior Bowl in Indianapolis. He turned in impressive on-field scores in the Combine testing last month in Indianapolis, and many are predicting he'll get selected by somebody in the second round. Just because you're not hearing talk about him coming here doesn't mean the Texans--and 31 other NFL scouting departments--aren't impressed by him.

As for the speedy running backs, that's definitely a possible way to go for Houston. As mentioned above, Mixon and Pearce are the two most-experienced backs under contract, so taking one in the Draft wouldn't be a surprise. 

Patrick Mitchell: Dear Drew, Who are the backup quarterbacks and how many running backs do we have?
DD: Behind the starter Stroud, Case Keenum, Davis Mills and Tim Boyle are under contract in the quarterback room. Keenum started the two games in December when Stroud was out with a concussion. Mills came on in relief of Mills in the second of those two contests. 

Behind Mixon and Pierce in the running back room are Gerrid Doaks and J.J. Taylor. The former's never played in an NFL regular season game, while the latter rushed a combined 52 times for 156 yards over three seasons in New England, from 2020 through 2022.

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