Hear that? The sound of helmets slamming together? The whistles and screams of coaches? The silence coming from the rookies, seeing as they're too busy carrying Andre Johnson's pads.... Well, that can only mean one thing; training camp is here. Our steel blue boys are back in pads, back to hitting eachother, back to getting paid way too much money to play a game. But I digress. To this fan, those wonderful sounds are better than Beethoven. Add in the fact that Andre Johnson has agreed to stick around till 2016, and I’m grinning like a cheshire cat. Bob McNair is even going so far as publicly expressiong expectations for Johnson to be the team's first Hall of Fame player. He may be the highest paid reciever in the NFL, but he didn’t make a spectacle about it like some people might have. On top of that, we’ve now signed every draft pick, as well as resigning Bernard Pollard, DeMeco Ryans, Kevin Walter, andOwen Daniels. (free angent tender)
The rookies getting the most attention in camp are first and second round picks CB Kareem Jackson and RB Bent Tate, as well as return specialist, Trindon Holliday. Jackson is lining up against Andre Johnson every day and getting the best education possible in the NFL. This is going to help to add experience to a very young secondary. Projected to start accross form Jackson is Glover Quin, who started twelve games for us last year as a rookie. His impact was undeniable, leading the team with eleven passes defended. He's going to need to maintain that level of intensity and skill in order for us to stay competitive. A couple interceptions wouldn't hurt my feelings, but hey, I'm not complaining. I've seen us start far worse CBs than Quin, and the kid is an extreme talent. Until the NFL allows Go-go-gadget type arms on defensive backs, we're going to need to have consistent top talent in the position as long as Peyton Manning is the king of the AFC South.
Ben Tate is looking good, but isn't quite where he'll need to be to at be considered worth the pick we used to get him. He, however, is pushing second and third year backs, Arian Foster and Steve Slaton, to live up to the hype surrounding them. Foster, for the breakout game against New England, (20 carries, 119yds, 2 TD) and Slaton for the amazing rookie year of 2008 (1,282 yds, 9 TD) Tate can be a fast, strong, and slippery guy, and will probably be given a great oppurtunity in the red zone to punch it in for six, where we fell short so often last year. (Not to mention, I'm looking forward to seeing Tate and former tennessee S Eric Berry go at it once again during the Texans-Chiefs meeting on Oct. 17th)
Trindon Holliday broke two punt returns for touchdowns in a single practice. He may not be able to enjoy many roller coasters or water slides, but he can have a grand ol' time on a football field eluding men twice his size. Said Joe Marciano "If you can't touch him, you can't tackle him." Truer words were never spoken, Joe. The real test for this tiny titan will be during pre-season where he'll be attempting to juke and duck people who aren't helping him stock his my-size Barbie garage. Hopefully, the recent hamstring injury won't keep him out of the August 14th pre-season opener against the Arizona Cardinals.
Speaking of injuries, don't count on seeing Owen Daniels this pre-season. While he's expected to play in the regular season opener Sep. 12th against Peyton Manning and the Colts, I don't think Kubiak will want to risk bringing him back any sooner. Xavier Adibi, who was expected to start in place of Brian Cushing during his four game suspension, unfortunately injured his groin. I got the chance to meet Adibi shortly after he was drafted by Houston, and he was an incredibly nice and funny guy, as well as a hell of a talent. Kub's comments aren't exactly what you'd call inspiring.
"I'm concerned right now with Adibi, I think everybody (else) will get back here pretty quickly, but he's going to miss some time. Obviously, we were counting on him very much so as a team. I feel bad for him because it seems like every time he gets on the brink, something happens. Hopefully, we can get past this and keep him healthy for a period of time."
Hopefully, like another famous Xavier he'll rebound just fine. I'd love to see someone really step up and fill the sizable void that'll be left by Cushing's absense. Fourth round pick, Darryl Sharpton, has been looking good and impressing people, and its a good thing with Adibi and Zac Diles both out with similar injuries.
So, after seven days of training camp, its still looking like the Texans are on track to have their best year yet. Will this campaign be the one to finally get us a ticket to the play-offs? Maybe, maybe not, but its looking good, dare I say, even likely? Thats right, "likely." Obviously, a few things would have to happen. Matt Schaub would have to stay healthy for all sixteen games for the second year in a row. Owen Daniels would have to recover enough to match his numbers from the previous two years. We've got to get the CBs on track to replace the hole left by Dunta Robinson, and have the LBs survive the four games without Brian Cushing. Of all these 'ifs,' theres none bigger than our widely publicized running woes. However, if Slaton or Foster can live up to their aforementioned hype, or Tate can rise to meet expectations, especially in goal line situations, than I'm sold. If I'm eating my words along with my humlie pie come January, I doubt I'll be alone. The fact that #80 is ready and willing to spend his entire career in Houston speaks volumes. So that begs the question, if he's willing to bet his legacy(?) on the franchise, aren't you willing to bet a couple hours on Sundays?
Article by Chase
Follow on Twitter @ChaserJames