Training camp starts in less than three weeks, and with it is another chance for receiver Lestar Jean to compete for playing time in 2013.
Last autumn as a second-year wideout from Florida Atlantic, Jean caught six passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. That scoring catch came on the game's opening drive during the Texans' Week 13 victory at Tennessee.
As a rookie in 2011, Jean showed flashes of potential during the preseason opener, catching a pair of passes for 53 yards against the Jets. A shoulder injury the following week against the Saints sent the rookie to the injured reserve.
Last season, the 14 games and one start (Week 11 vs. Jacksonville) were a good chance for Jean to dip his toes in the NFL water, and he thinks the limited experience in 2012 will serve him well this fall.
"It helps a lot," Jean said in late June. "Mentally, just knowing what to expect. The first time you do everything, the second time you're definitely going to be better at it."
Jean and second-year receiver Keshawn Martin were praised by Gary Kubiak for their progress and performance during OTA's. The Texans' head coach acknowledged that the starting receiver job opposite Andre Johnson is rookie DeAndre Hopkins' to lose. But he's enthused by what Jean did during May and June.
"He and Keshawn have had really good offseasons," Kubiak said. "They're pushing to play very quickly."
The road to starting is a steep one for Jean, and he knows that. But it hasn't extinguished his determination and commitment to improving.
"It's an opportunity," Jean said. "I feel like it's an opportunity not only for me, but for all the young receivers that come up and really show that we can be a supporting cast behind Andre."
Jean made a juggling catch and raced up the left sideline for a 46-yard gain during the Week 3 road victory over the Broncos. But he also injured a knee in that contest, and wound up having arthroscopic surgery on his meniscus. He was able to return for Week 6 against Green Bay, but wound up with just four catches the rest of the season. The reps during OTA's and minicamp have been a good chance for Jean to impress Kubiak, and Jean shared his thoughts on hearing Kubiak's praise.
"It means a lot," Jean said. "He recognized the hard work I've been putting in, and hopefully I can continue to impress him."