Training camp is three weeks away and I wrote on Thursday about the five players (which became six because I cheated…so to speak) that will be in the spotlight throughout camp, for some reason or another. But, there's another group of players that Marc and I have christened the "Don't forget about me" group. Now, over the years, players have evolved out of the "Don't forest about me" category, if you will, into quality starters or contributors for that year's team and beyond. Here are some players that don't have a ton of hype around them heading into camp, but could play a vital role for this year's Texans squad.
DL Jordan Jenkins - With the additions of Ogbo Okoronkwo, Mario Addison and Jerry Hughes, along with the healthy return of leading sack artist Jon Greenard, it was easy to overlook the potential contribution of Jenkins from the edge for the 2022 season. He was unstoppable in the Miami game last year and it was a shame that the offense couldn't really get anything working to reward Jenkins's effort. He has length, power and a relentless attitude rushing the QB and he'll have plenty of time to shine in TC/preseason games to earn regular season game reps.
OL Charlie Heck - The return of Laremy Tunsil and the move of Tytus Howard back to right tackle garnered all the offensive line headlines at the tackle position this offseason. As a result, the now third year edge protector toiled in relative anonymity throughout the offseason. But, Heck has been a major contributor to the offensive line mix the past 18-19 months. His game has improved month over month since arriving in 2020 and he lives at NRG Stadium in the offseason. Well, at least it seems that way because he's always there when I'm at work. The best case scenario for the OL is that Tunsil is healthy and Howard gets super comfortable back at RT, but if anything happens to either one, Heck is more than capable to step in either one's stead.
DB Jonathan Owens - On Thursday, Owens was at the White House with his fiancee Simone Biles as she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But, JO has made plenty of noise on his own since stepping into the starting lineup last December against the Jaguars. Unfortunately, an injury set him back for the final couple of games and the beginning of this offseason. That said, Owens is often mentioned by head coach Lovie Smith as fitting the profile at the safety position (5-11, 210 lb. and blazing fast) and he has the football IQ and relentless nature to play the safety position in this defensive scheme. It's hard to miss him on the field and I can't wait to see him back again healthy and ready to roll.
OL Justin McCrayand OL Max Scharping - Both veterans have started plenty of games in the league and for the Texans. Along with Tytus Howard, Scharping is the most senior position player on the Texans roster and found confidence and consistency at the end of last season at the guard position. McCray can play any of the inside positions, including center, which provides flexibility and versatility to the 46-man game day roster down the road.
RB Royce Freeman - It's a jam packed backfield for RB coach Danny Barrett as the Texans signed two RB (Marlon Mack & Dare Ogunbowale) and drafted another (Dameon Pierce) this past offseason. However, GM Nick Caserio brought Freeman back to give him an opportunity to earn carries in this crowded backfield. He's impressively thick and doesn't have a ton of tread off the tires, even though he's heading into year number five in the league. I've said this many, MANY times, I don't care who finds success at the RB for this team, shoot, it could be a guy on the proverbial street right now. DOES. NOT. MATTER. Freeman should provide value to the room and on the field, so the three preseason games could go a long way in showing us HOW MUCH impact Freeman can make.
That'll do it for this week - have a great weekend, everyone and see you on July 28th!!