Vandermeer's View: Countdown to Camp


The first thing to remember is that although we make a huge deal about training camp, much of the design for what the 2016 Texans will be doing took place during off-season practices. Those 13 sessions along with all the meeting and conditioning work laid the foundation for what we'll be seeing in the coming weeks.

The biggest difference is that the team will be in pads for a big chunk of that time, finally giving the coaches a chance to fully teach and evaluate the physical part of the game. It's hard to tell how the offensive line and running backs truly operate unless they are getting hit.

Taking injuries out of the equation, the two biggest stories in camp will be how Brock Osweiler looks at the helm of the offense and how the top three draft choices assimilate.

Let's start with the quarterback.

After four years in Denver and seven starts last season, he has Houston's immediate football future in his hands. Players and coaches have complimented his command and leadership in and out of the huddle. He had a few weeks in May and June to work with his new weapons and now he is that much closer to his Texans debut. Every throw in practice will be scrutinized and over-analyzed. Osweiler knows this is part of the territory and is ready for his opportunity.

We've talked plenty about Will Fuller V and Braxton Miller but Nick Martin is equally important to the Texans' plans. Mike Mayock called him a 'ten-year starter' on draft weekend so it'll be interesting to see when the ten years begin.

He'll be battling with free agent acquisition Tony Bergstrom. Nevermind Martin's rookie status and the fact that he's vying to be the 'QB' of the O-line. If he's the right man for the job, he'll start.

Will Fuller and Braxton Miller will have a lot of eyes on them. They bring different skill sets to the party but both could factor heavily as the season progresses. And Jaelen Strong and Cecil Shorts are likely in no mood to give up playing time to the new guys, so this is going to be fun. Every rep will be super competitive against a secondary fortified with playmakers including safety Andre Hal who led the team last season with four picks.

Now on to the injuries.

With Duane Brown out for the time being, Derek Newton and Chris Clark are the top tackles. But don't forget about Kendall Lamm, who was often the 'sixth man' on the offensive line when they needed an extra blocker last season. Newton held a similar role in 2011 and look what it did for him.

Jeff Adams is also on the PUP list after getting a ton of reps at guard during last year's camp, so that affects depth a bit. But Oday Aboushi, who started five games last year after being picked up in September, is part of a group ready to help out.

While J.J. Watt works his way back, Devon Still, Christian Covington, Brandon Dunn and Jeoffrey Pagan will be among those fighting for time at defensive end. This is one of those positions that will require pads and preseason games for the coaches to get a good look at what they have to work with.

Camp is a journey and there's no substitute for the live reps, preseason games and the inter-squad practices the team will experience in the next six weeks. There's much work to do before taking on a hungry Bears team on opening day.

Check out some of the best shots from the Texans' first day of veteran minicamp.

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