All teams enter training camp with questions surrounding the beginning of the season. The questions take on a different tone in Cleveland than they do in New England than they do in Houston, but no team is immune. Based on questions I get on a daily basis and my own thoughts, here are the most significant questions the team will face heading to training camp in late July.
1. Quarterback, quarterback, quarterback
Every time I’m out and about with friends or family, someone invariably asks the question about the quarterback. It’s at the top of the list and there’s so much that has to play out over the next few months. No matter what happens, though, I feel as good about this trio of signal callers as any group that’s been here in Houston the past four seasons.
2. How will J.J. Watt respond when the pads go on?
My gut tells me that 99 is looking to make a statement in 2017. Not only does he want to show that he’s 100% and healthy, but that he’s even better than he was prior to 2016.
3. Who earns the right tackle position?
If the season started today, I know who I’d start at right tackle, but for offensive linemen, it’s ridiculous to make any declarations after an offseason when they didn’t hit anyone at all. That’s what it’s all about, right? I’ll say this, though, I’m not as concerned about this position as many fans and followers are.
4. Without Quentin Demps at safety, how will the Texans configure the safety position?
Keep in mind that Andre Hal has started 22 games at safety over the past two seasons, while Corey Moore started eight games last year in Demps’ stead. Now, like every group on the field, they need to make significant improvement for this defense to really take a gargantuan step, but that can certainly happen. The story at safety in the offseason, though, was the play of Kurtis Drummond, who missed all of 2016 on injured reserve. Drummond, K.J. Dillon and Lonnie Ballentine will all be in the competition, but they have to be healthy (something they weren’t in 2016) to do make it a tough decision.
5. Will Tyler Ervin build off an outstanding offseason?
He seems to have his confidence after an up-and-down rookie season. His turn-and-burn capabilities were highly noticeable this offseason and could be immensely valuable in this offense in 2017.
6. Martin or Mancz at center?
Greg Mancz did an outstanding job for this team in 2016, stepping up to be the center when Nick Martin was injured. With Martin back, will Martin step back into the starting role or will Mancz continue as the starter? Injury created opportunity for the Texans to see what Mancz could do in 2016 and he was one of the most consistent players on offense all year long. Perhaps both of them find a way on the field on this offensive line. Either way, they’ll compete for that starting role all camp long.
7. Does David Quessenberry have a shot to make this team?
Had you asked me that question back in March, I’d have told you that I hope it happens, but the chances are long. Ask me that question now and my answer is 180 degrees different. He got a ton of reps during the offseason and handled them well. Now, without pads, again, no definitive decisions can, or should, be made, but are you going to count this man out after what he’s been through? If he can make this 53-man roster, it won’t be long before he finds a way to get on the field to help this offense. Trust me on that.
8. Where does Kareem Jackson play in 2017?
Surprisingly, I get this question ALL the time from the football geeks on my timeline. I mean, ALL the time. Here’s the thing, Kareem can play every single position in the secondary if needed. He’s outstanding playing inside at nickel. He can play outside as he has for years and he’s played some safety along the way. Injuries will happen and having a guy like Kareem that can play different spots from game to game, or even from play to play, is incredibly valuable, to say the least. The point is that I don’t think there’ll be this major declaration by the team that Kareem is a safety or a corner, which makes preparation for this defense difficult from week to week. If we don’t know, opposing offenses won’t know either, right?
9. What’s the Greenbrier like?
I’ll tell you in a month or so.
That’s about it for now, I’ll have more training camp fodder for you next week. See ya then.