While the Texans have been adding offensive linemen in free agency, Derek Newton has been quietly rehabbing. The starting right tackle's return status has been unclear after he suffered a devastating injury in both knees against the Denver Broncos on Oct. 24, 2016.
"I would say he's on schedule, but he probably, I wouldn't say that he'd be able to do a ton of things this spring," O'Brien said at the Annual League Meeting in Orlando. "Nobody's worked harder than Derek Newton to try to get back to where he's at."
Newton, who ruptured the patellar tendon in both knees, was carted off the field after starting 56 consecutive games from 2012-16. Newton spent 2016 on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. Last May, he was placed on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list for the 2017 season.
The Texans return on April 16 for the start of the offseason workout program, but it appears that Newton will not be participating in OTAs during the final three weeks of that progam.
"He's a hardworking guy that, I mean, that guy's been in there every single day at 6 a.m. five days a week," O'Brien said. "He probably comes in on the weekends on his own. I would say he's probably not able to do a bunch of field work – he can rehab-wise, but not in team periods and things like that."
Newton received the Ed Block Courage award last year for his extra efforts off the field and ability to overcome adversity. The seven-year veteran has played both guard and tackle in his career with Texans and continues to work on his recovery in the hopes of returning to the field soon.