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Houston Texans

Training camp preview


Matt Schaub has a lot on his shoulders this season.

Storylines abound as the Texans prepare to enter their second training camp under Gary Kubiak. Following a 6-10 season in which the team won three out of its' last four games, hopes are high for the 2007 campaign and rightfully so.

Some savvy offseason additions have bolstered both the offensive and defensive units and the roster, as compiled now, is easily the finest collection of talent in team history.

Still if the Texans are to make the leap from NFL punching bag to playoff power, there are questions to be addressed over the next three weeks as 80 players fight for 52 spots in the Texas heat at the Methodist Training Center.

Here's a look at five key questions that need to be answered during two-a-days which begin Friday.

Is Matt the man?

First year quarterback Matt Schaub won't be blessed with the same honeymoon period that David Carr enjoyed after becoming the first draft pick in team history.

Texans fans want a winner now and all signs point to Schaub being the leader to get Houston to the next level. But as they say around the building here, everyone looks good in shorts and helmets, how will Schaub respond on Sept. 9?

Schaub is neither a rookie nor a savvy veteran making him the biggest wild card for the Texans this season. He has starting experience and has looked good in limited duty during his first three years in the NFL, but Schaub's pro career begins in earnest on Sept. 9 against the Chiefs.

Fair or not, the Texans will only go as far as their quarterback will take them.

Does Green have gas left?

The four-time Pro Bowl running back looks to be in great shape as he enters his first training camp with Houston. Perhaps no other player on the Texans treats his body as well as Green does, stretching constantly and maintaining a strict diet and training regime.

However, Green has fewer years in the NFL ahead of him than he has behind him so the question is: when will that drop off in production begin?

More important that getting Green familiar with the Texans offense, he has a pretty good idea already after working with Texans offensive coordinator Mike Sherman in Green Bay anyway, is keeping Green off the training table and fresh, not just for the regular season opener, but for December when the Texans will hopefully be making a run at a playoff birth.

Will Mario make the leap?

Williams' foot problems of a year ago have been well documented and despite an injury-riddled rookie campaign, Williams still played in every game, collecting 4.5 sacks while learning on the job.

Typically defensive linemen take at least a year to grow accustomed to the NFL. Physically, Williams is already among the elite players in the league with a body that many players would kill for.

The question now is whether Williams can take those lessons learned last season and turn them into sacks this year. If he doesn't lead the Texans in quarterback hits this year, it would be surprising, but with how many? The franchise record is eight set by Jeff Posey in 2002. Will Mario add his name to the record books in 2007?

Who's No. 2?

Andre Johnson, one of the NFL's best receivers, will continue to build upon a stellar career in 2007. In fact only one receiver in NFL history, Anquan Boldin, has more receptions during the first four years of a career than Johnson.

But who will draw coverage away from Johnson? Kevin Walter is the frontrunner now, but he's yet to catch 20 passes in a season during four years in the NFL.

Competition will be stiff with the offseason additions of André Davis and Bethel Johnson, not to mention rookie Jacoby Jones.

There's enough talent on the roster at receiver, but in the end it could be receiver by committee that protects Johnson from double coverage.

Is the o-line okay?

The Texans have allowed a lot of sacks since play began for the team in 2002. It's no secret around the league either and many have blamed the men up front for Carr's failures in Houston. That criticism could be fair, it could not, but one things for sure, we're about to find out.

The offensive line is out of excuses. As they enter year two in Kubiak's system and without any significant losses to date, this year's offensive line should be the team's finest yet. Will it be good enough?

With a Pro Bowl running back behind them and All Pro receiver next to them, if the offense sputters this season, it's not going to take long to point the finger at the line…again.

Care to take in any training camp action?

Free tickets are still available to open practices, including this weekend. Click here for more information.

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