Training Camp is such a great time for everyone, but it's probably best for the fans. As a player, those hot, arduous days are such a grind and fun isn't really the right word. Coaches? Same thing. Media? It's 25/8/425 work throughout those six plus weeks. The fans, though? Yes, they have to suffer in 100 degree heat but they get a look at the team for the first time. They see their favorite stars, guys like Brandin Cooks, Laremy Tunsil and many others.
But, one of the great things about training camp for the fans is the opportunity to see relative unknowns for the first time. Even more so, there's that thought that a relative unknown can rise up and become a star. A guy like A.J. Bouye in 2016. Arian Foster in 2009. Dylan Cole in 2017. Those guys were all UDFAs but used training camp to get the fans' attention. As such, there are players at each position group flying under the radar right now that could make that type of move in 2022. Let's be clear…we remember those names because it's not a regular thing, but it's also fun to discuss those surprises hidden in the background, so to speak. As such, let's look at a candidate at each position group that could be the surprise of training camp.
QB Kyle Allen - At the QB position, there are few surprises; everyone knows the QBs in every NFL city. But, what surprised me in OTA/minicamp was Allen's throwing acumen, not just his arm strength. Now, when he let it rip, whoa…quite impressive, but he made some touch throws to difficult spots that caught my eye for sure. He does need to make quicker decisions more consistently, but I'm more sold on him as Davis Mills' backup than I was when the Texans signed him.
RB Darius 'Jet' Anderson - His nickname gives it away; Darius can flat out fly. He's gotten bigger since college but hasn't lost a step. He's dynamic in the passing game/screen game and if he pops a run or two to get the fans hyped, look out.
WR Davion Davis - The Texans have signed a number of slot types to the roster since the last season, so the competition is fierce. However, Davis has nothing but untapped potential, twitch for days and explosiveness to put defenses on blast.
TE Seth Green (rookie) - The former Minnesota Gopher Wildcat QB turned University of Houston TE is one of the most talented tight ends to walk in this building. Now, taking that talent and turning it into production as a rookie is a TOTALLY different ball game. But, Green can make an impact with his ability to get separation and pass catching skills in his first NFL training camp.
OL Jordan Steckler - Back during our Media Days, we had the chance to interview about two dozen players, but one I really enjoyed chatting with was Steckler. I thought he had some moments last year at tackle during camp, but it was a bit up and down, as expected from a young player in his first year for a team. He may move around during camp to show his versatility and that could be his calling card in the future.
DL Kurt Hinish (rookie) - I've always had this theory about defensive linemen with a perimeter player's number in college (in short - not just a fat guy in the middle). Well, Hinish wore #40 and that always caught my attention when watching him at Notre Dame. He's a relentless, young attacking interior player who'll get a ton of playing time in the second halves of the three pre-season games. He won't make quite the impact of a guy like Roy Lopez Jr. last year, but I won't be surprised by any plays he makes in the preseason.
LB Blake Cashman - The question has always been health for Cashman who came over to the Texans in a March trade. He can fly to the football, has outstanding first step quickness and tackles everything in a different colored jersey. His career got off to a solid start before the injuries struck. Regardless, this is the defense that can accentuare his assets but did I mention staying healthy?
DB Kendall Sheffield - Coming out college, Sheffield was far from a polished product, but he was one unreal athlete. He was a star hurdler in high school and college and had the requisite height, weight and speed to be a perimeter cornerback in the NFL. Atlanta didn't see through the process with Sheffield, so the Texans snatched up a raw, but uber-athletic, cornerback with a ton of upside. During OTA/minicamp, Sheffield was competitive at the catch point throughout and should get plenty of opportunity to showcase his skills back in his hometown in this training camp.