Slant \slant: n.
1: a slanting direction, line, or plane : SLOPE
2: a. something that slants
b. SLASH 4
c. a football running play in which the ball carrier runs obliquely toward the line of scrimmage
3: a. a peculiar or personal point of view, attitude, or opinion
b. a slanting view : GLANCE
Math teaches that the shortest distance between two points is a line. My learning curve in one week has transcended the curve and quickly stretched itself into a straight line. This happened on my second day as the new Houston Texans Integrated Media Manager (unofficially known as the Texans Insider). I had my coming out party, as I joined the broadcasting team of Marc Vandermeer and Drew Dougherty on Texans All Access Radio. I visited Fire Stations 51 and 68 with T.J. Yates, Whitney Mercilus, Jon Weeks, and several cheerleaders to honor fallen firefighters. That evening I answered fantasy football questions as part of a five-person panel at the House of Blues for the Battle Red Ladies “Fundamentals of Fantasy."
Day 3 was a blur as I posted some articles and made futile attempts to finish out my HR training requirements. By Day 4, my Vanderboss had me on Texans All Access Radio for the second time that week. By Day 5, when the entire office filed into a four-hour meeting which kicked off with an NFL Films highlight reel of the Texans 2012 season, I felt as if I had been here all along.
Coming from SportsRadio 610, I have written about the Texans. I have also been on air at KPFT Houston for the past eleven years. This is different. Being part of team, literally and figuratively, is an experience in itself.
This week kicks off the Texans countdown to training camp. The rookies reported Monday but everyone else is also in the building, or so it seems. As a side note, I am not one to get star struck but I nearly tripped over myself when Wade Phillips held the door open for me. The season is kicking into gear and soon I will be heading down the slope at breakneck speed, i.e. a deep slant.
Point of View
As the new Texans insider, I get to write about the team and the players from a unique perspective. Getting to peel back the layers and really understand the individuals, both collectively and separately, is a privilege. The Deep Slant column is my perspective on the Texans. As the season gets underway, so will the Deep Slant.
With training camp just days away and the first preseason game two weeks away on August 9, there are a bunch of storylines emerging. Here are just a few that jump out at me.
1. The Battle for Right Tackle
With starter Derek Newton returning from offseason patellar tendon surgery on his right knee, this spot should be a lock, right? On April 9, the Texans re-signed Ryan Harris, who started in place for Newton in 2012. The draft also beefed up depth at right tackle with the addition of third-rounder Brennan Williams and sixth-round pick David Quessenberry. The starting position could be an interesting battle to watch in training camp.
2. Ed Reed's presence
Reed showed up in Houston for the final week of OTAs for the final stages of his rehab following hip surgery to repair a torn labrum. Reed's presence off the field, as well as his limited participation on it, will be the first time we get to see what the nine-time Pro Bowler brings to the Texans defense. Like the mythical Phoenix that rises out of flames, we wait with bated breath to see what Reed's famed ball-hawking skills are all about. Even if he does not take a single rep, his leadership will surely be felt among the younger safeties like second-round draft pick D.J. Swearinger, who would be taking reps in his place.
3. Return of Cushing, Sharpton
How exciting is it that the inside linebacker position will be at full strength again? Brian Cushing and Darryl Sharpton were never on the field at the same time during the 2012 season. Cushing returns to the field for the first time since suffering a season-ending ACL injury in Week 5 against the New York Jets. Sharpton, who participated in OTAs this offseason, started in 2012 on the Physically Unable to Perform list. He did not return until November 18 against Jacksonville, well after Cushing was placed on injured reserve. Both will be back together again for the start of training camp.
So here we are at the top of the slope. The roller coaster ride that is the 2013 season is about to begin, on the heels of the best year in franchise history. The Texans will have their ups and downs, racing towards the championship at breakneck speeds. After waiting eight long months, we have front row seats, so buckle up. The ride is about to begin.