The next phase of the Texans offseason begins on Monday, May 23rd. It's the first OTA, which stands for "organized team activity". Essentially, it's the first time that the team goes on the field for spring practice. Well, that's what the colleges call it, but that's, in essence, what it is - practice in the spring.
There are no pads and no contact, so there's little to see in the way of what happens on both sides of the line of scrimmage. But, the rookies are incorporated into the mix and the full team picture begins to take shape. These OTA sessions that take place over the next few weeks, leading into mandatory minicamp, are vital, yet can only tell only so much of the team's 2016 story.
Heading into the first OTA last year, Andre Hal was still a cornerback. Quintin Demps wasn't even a Texan. Benardrick McKinney and Kevin Johnson were still rookie question marks. No one knew whether Jadeveon Clowney would even see the field in 2015. Oday Aboushi was a Jet. T.J. Yates wasn't even in an NFL building, that I can remember. However, those players had an impact on the 2015 season at some point.
The reason I pointed that out is to illustrate that the season is a marathon and it takes many twists and turns. It's just that the first OTA is anyone's first look at what the season can be. What does the puzzle look like at this point? With that said, here are a few things I'll be excited to see on Monday.
See photos from the first day of Texans rookie minicamp on Friday.
- Speed. I've always been enamored with speed and this offense will finally have it. There will be at least five guys on this offense with legit 4.4 speed.
- Brock Osweiler, of course. We've seen Brock work in practice before, when we traveled to Denver in 2014 for a week of practice against the Broncos. But, now, it's with this team at the right time. How does he handle the offense? How does he operate the machine? I don't care how many throws he completes or doesn't. That part takes time, but how quickly does he get on the same offensive page as everyone else?
- Jadeveon Clowney being over 18 months removed from surgery. He's always going to be a polarizing figure, until he completely unleashes on opponents for a full season. I think his health and production are two of the five biggest keys to the defense's performance in 2016. If he's the Clowney we know he can be...uh, look out.
- Will Fuller and Braxton Miller against veteran defensive backs. Each group will get a taste of something different throughout this offseason and it'll make both groups that much better. The rookies have to learn how to get open, while the vets get a taste of speed at that position, which they'll face all year long.
- Jaelen Strong's progress. He can be a huge beneficiary of the additions on offense, if he's ready to build upon a relatively solid end of the 2015 season.
- A calm and serene coach O'Brien. Nah, just kidding. I love him the way he is.
There's not a ton to see on either offensive or defensive line, so I'm not slighting them at all. They'll get their time and focus as we near training camp. The team's been working on the 2016 season puzzle for a while and Monday is truly our first look at its progress.