Let's call this an occasional look at the Houston Texans' process of putting together the team they'll take to training camp. There are many steps left in this, but the Texans have made several moves since my last glance at their roster.

We'll start with offense today, and look at defense tomorrow afternoon.

Fitzpatrick
Quarterback: Ryan Fitzpatrick, T.J. Yates, Case Keenum
Analysis: Fitzpatrick is the grizzled veteran of this group, signed in free agency to either hold the Texans over this season or mentor the rookie who they want to become the future of their franchise. They've said they'll add a quarterback or two in the draft, and coach Bill O'Brien indicated three weeks ago that Yates and Keenum would likely go into training camp with the Texans. Yates wants a real shot at being a starter, and I can't blame him. Last week, Yates said he hadn't yet gotten a sense of his role from the new staff.

Running back: Arian Foster, Andre Brown, Jonathan Grimes, Ray Graham, Dennis Johnson, Toben Opurum, Chad Spann
Analysis: Foster is the (now healthy) starter and he said he will participate in organized team activities. Brown offers a good veteran presence and is by all accounts a great guy. But the Texans will need him to stay healthy as he's had injury problems throughout his career. As I said on my video earlier today, the Texans will draft another player, somewhere in the mid-rounds, that could grow into Foster's backup.

Posey
Receiver: Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, DeVier Posey, Keshawn Martin, Mike Thomas, Alan Bonner, Alec Lemon
Analysis: This group doesn't need much work, though O'Brien mentioned the need for a slot receiver during a recent town hall. I'd love to see Posey incorporated more into the Texans' next offense.

Tight ends: Garrett Graham, Zach Potter, Ryan Griffin, Brad Smelley, Phillip Supernaw
Analysis: Griffin and Graham both return from last year's roster, with Graham suddenly something of an elder statesman in this group. Since the Texans have 11 draft picks, and could accumulate more before it's over, there could be another tight end added to the mix, but there doesn't have to be.

Offensive line: Duane Brown, Chris Myers, Derek Newton, Brandon Brooks, Ben Jones, Brennan Williams, Cody White, Alex Kupper, David Quessenberry
Analysis: Don't have to worry about left tackle, center or right guard right now. Brown, Myers and Brooks have those positions locked down. Left guard Wade Smith hasn't been (and probably won't be) re-signed and right tackle, which featured Newton as the starter and Ryan Harris on some plays, was a position of concern last season for the Texans. Quessenberry had a lot of people excited before he went on injured reserve with a broken foot last summer. He played tackle at San Jose State, but can play guard as well and could be a good fit at left guard. The Texans are reportedly visiting with Auburn tackle Greg Robinson next week. While that's likely a contingency plan if they trade down, it wouldn't be outrageous to think Robinson could come to the Texans and play right tackle to start his career.

NFL Nation Buzz: Houston Texans

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
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Houston Texans reporter Tania Ganguli examines the team's needs at the running back position and how it may address those needs in the draft.
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Former UCF quarterback Blake Bortles arrived in Houston last night and James Palmer of CSN Houston caught up with him. If you, like me, don't get that channel, you can watch Palmer walk and talk with Bortles through Hobby Airport and read Bortles' quotes here. Bortles was flying in from Oakland, where he met with the Raiders on Tuesday. As you might imagine, he is excited.

Agent Leigh Steinberg, who contributes to Forbes, checked in with his opinion that the Texans should draft Johnny Manziel first overall. He writes: "Houston has to believe they will never be this high up in draft order again. Jadeveon Clowney may be a great player, but Houston has already taken the Mario Williams route. They need a quarterback. 100 miles up the road at Texas A&M is where to find the solution. Johnny Manziel is a freakishly gifted savant at the QB position – bright, good arm strength, a fiery leader, and the most amazing ability to sustain plays of any QB in modern history. With him at the helm, every game is winnable. I don’t represent Johnny, but if I owned or managed a team, I would start with him on May 8th."

The Texans signed their sixth unrestricted free agent of this offseason, writes John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. Ricardo Mathews, 26, becomes the second nose tackle to join the team in the past month.
How Johnny Manziel's electrifying style throughout his college football career will translate to the NFL is an evaluation crucial to teams considering drafting the former Texas A&M quarterback.

In a piece on Yahoo.com, NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell discussed some of his questions about Manziel's skill set, taking us through what internal conversations teams should be having as they evaluate him.

Among his discussion, this:
He does not have a refined sense of anticipation, and that's a concern considering the speed and reaction time of NFL defenses, but there were many throws in which he looked like a comfortable pocket quarterback.

And this:
You see a quarterback who creates his own problems with what appears to be a lack of understanding and discipline, and then once in a while he makes an unbelievable unstructured play. There's a sense that he makes it up as he goes, a shoot from the hip element that is so much fun and entertaining to watch. But you're not sure that will work in the NFL. Entertaining is great for fans and highlight shows, but it's not a quarterback attribute. A QB cannot live on the edge, play randomly and be consistently successful against NFL defenses.

Reining in the "shoot-from-the-hip" element can be very difficult for a young quarterback, but those who figure out how to do it become the most successful players. Cosell noted several positives in Manziel's game, including the fact that when he did remain in the pocket, he made some NFL throws. The problem was in the frequency of those situations.
ESPN The Magazine, with Sportingintelligence, sorted through 294 teams in 15 leagues and seven sports to determine the biggest spenders and highest-earning athletes.

Not surprisingly, the NFL ranked low in per-player spending, despite the popularity of the game.

The Houston Texans ranked 142nd among all teams surveyed, with an average five-year spending per player at $10,415,444. The Texans' average annual pay per player was $2,056,137. Houston's numbers saw a 3.7 percent increase from the 2013 survey.

Eight NFL players rank among the top 25 highest-paid athletes worldwide. As you might imagine seven are quarterbacks, and the other is Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson.
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We begin with a story that isn't exactly about the Texans and is exactly about the Texans at the same time. On TheMMQB.com, Peter King writes from a conversation he had with Mike Holmgren, who thrice found himself in the position of needing a quarterback. Once with the Packers, once with the Seahawks and once with the Cleveland Browns. For all the talk about the lack of a perceived star in this year's quarterback class, Holmgren notes one thing that is almost certainly true. “Somebody in that group can play, I feel sure of that,” Holmgren said of the quarterbacks in the 2014 draft class. “You list them, you evaluate them, you discuss them as a scouting and coaching group, and you pick one. Now—and this is very, very important—once he’s with you, you never, ever let anyone believe he’s not the right guy, not the quarterback of the future. In the building, obviously, that’s a given. But in public too. Every time you talk about him, he’s your guy."

While the headline on this piece seems to indicate a look at the future, Will Grubb of SportsRadio610 recounts a conversation on the station with former Texans general manager Charley Casserly in which Casserly says the Texans didn't get any offers to trade the top pick in either of the two times he presided over that selection. That doesn't mean the Texans won't trade this pick -- in fact if they get the right offer they certainly will. But it's interesting to get a look at the team's history through a former member of its front office.

Channeling his inner Charles Barkley, Arian Foster thinks athletes are held to too high of a standard by society, writes James Palmer of CSNHouston.com. He wants more realism in expectations. I think Texans owner Bob McNair would proudly say he holds the players and coaches he employs to high character standards.
Mock drafts are an ever-changing beast. In the case of the Houston Chronicle's John McClain, this week's about-face was a big one.

After sending Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel to the Houston Texans in his first two drafts, his mock revealed today has the team selecting Jadeveon Clowney.

While I've never gotten the sense that the Texans are all that enamored with any of the quarterbacks -- in part because of statements made by both general manager Rick Smith and head coach Bill O'Brien -- McClain has vehemently insisted the Texans will take a quarterback with the top pick. The thought has crossed my mind that the team's comments could very well have been smokescreens.

When Houston signed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, McClain wrote it was another sign that the Texans will take a quarterback with the top pick. Less than two weeks ago, while poking a little fun at himself for thinking the Texans would take Reggie Bush first overall in 2006, he reiterated his tendency toward a quarterback.

I texted McClain to ask for a couple lines about why he made the switch.

"Bortles started but was benched for Manziel, who was sacked by Clowney," he quipped. "I have 3 mocks left and I hope to get one right."

Chances are, he will!

Draft season is misinformation season. Some of what we reporters hear in our research is true. Some of it isn't. It's hard to separate what we know from what we think we know. It's best not to take mock drafts (or ourselves) too seriously.

And while there is a growing sentiment that Clowney will be the Texans' choice, consider this: Clowney is also the Texans' best chance at trading the first overall pick.


Back in the 1970s, presumably when Houston Texans defensive line coach Bill Kollar played for the Cincinnati Bengals, in the days when players had to find ways to make some extra money in the offseason, a PR person called him for the opportunity to earn $50 to take a picture with a bear.

And, well, I'll let him finish from the story he relayed during his induction into the Senior Bowl hall of fame.

"I said, 'OK, that sounds pretty good,'" Kollar said. "I go downtown, I get down, there’s probably 50 people there. I walk in I say what’s going on? They say, 'Somebody’s going to wrestle the bear.' I said, 'What?' They said, 'Somebody’s gonna wrestle the bear!' I said, 'I wonder who the heck’s going to end up doing that.'"

Him, it turned out.

"They said, 'Just stay in tight with it, you’ll be all right, it won’t be a problem,'" Kollar continued. "I start going and I lock up and I take one little step back and the bear just tackles me right? Gets on top and I’m over here kicking and stuff. It’s on TV and I’m thinking holy Christ, this looks bad. So they get the bear off of me and I get back up you know. ...They tie us up again and I just bulled it. I just went and put it over backwards, I’m on top of him now. Everybody went nuts. This bear was probably 7 feet. I told the guy, 'I know how to do it now.' He said, 'We’re going to Columbus next week, we’ve got a Kodiak coming in. Would you like to wrestle him? He's 10 feet.' I said, 'No I’ll end up passing on that.'

"Nowadays these guys walk across the street and they get a thousand bucks."

Ain't that the truth.

Watch Kollar tell the story here. And a huge thanks to Drew Doughtery of the Texans' official website for initially tweeting about this. My day has improved as a result. And I bet yours did, too.
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Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus hasn't had a lot of time for in-depth conversations with the new Texans coaches about what his role will be in their defense, but he likes what he's heard, writes Dave Zangaro of CSNHouston.com. He also said this: “I wouldn’t be opposed to having a great addition to the defense in Clowney. The guy seems like he’s an animal and if we do happen to get him onto the team, he’s just a great addition to the 3-4 package that we have.”

If former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel succeeds as a professional football player, he could become the face of the NFL, supposes Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle:
Manziel's teenage-like face and relatively small frame have dominated ESPN's "SportsCenter" for two highlight-filled, controversial years. His shoulder-pads-and-helmet statement became a pro day trendsetter. His Wonderlic score was a national Twitter trending topic Friday. And while Adidas, Under Armour and New Balance attempted to lure in the biggest name in the 2014 NFL draft, only Nike, with its multiyear promotional contract at an undisclosed sum, was awarded the right to attach its worldwide brand to Manziel.

Chris Wesseling of NFL.com wonders if former Texans quarterback Matt Schaub is broken beyond repair. He details why Schaub imploded last season, but begins in 2012.
His struggles began shortly after uncorking a whopping 103 passes in back-to-back overtime victories over a five-day span in November. Schaub soon began playing without confidence in his arm or in his pass protection.

Check out the two underthrown play-action bombs in the video to the right. After Vontae Davis intercepted a dying quail intended for James Casey in Week 17, that weapon left Schaub's arsenal rarely to be seen again.


No longer standing in against the pass rush, Schaub started bailing in the pocket while falling into the habit of checking down horizontally as opposed to testing defenses vertically.

Entering his first career playoff game against the Bengals in early January, Schaub acknowledged to sideline reporter Alex Flanagan that he had been pressing, thinking too much and afraid to make a mistake. "His goal today is just to cut it loose," Flanagan summarized.

That theoretically renewed, aggressive Schaub never materialized.

Reminiscent of an obviously injured Carson Palmer in his last years with the Bengals, the postseason version of Schaub proved incapable of consistently moving his offense outside of garbage time against slackening defenses.
On Thursday, before a showing of the movie "Draft Day," Houston Texans running back Arian Foster said he is healthy, has been working out for a couple months and will be available for organized team activities.

Foster
Foster
It's great that Foster is feeling well, having had back surgery in November. At this point, that's obviously better than the alternative. But the real test of his health will come much later.

After all, recall that Foster entered last year's OTAs in great shape. Former Texans coach Gary Kubiak said at the time it might have been the best shape he'd ever seen Foster.

What followed was a difficult season for Foster, physically speaking. He had a calf injury in May that caused him to start training camp on the physically unable to perform list. He missed the preseason, but played starting in Week 1 of the regular season. Then on Oct. 20, Foster suffered a hamstring injury during a pass play that left the Texans with only one -- a broken-ribbed Ben Tate -- running back that day.

So while it's great Foster's body has healed, the real tests for him will come later. They'll come when practices begin, and when, more importantly, games begin and Foster deals with the grueling nature of his position.
Texans punter/holder Shane Lechler has been doing his job a long time and lately he's seen more change than he'd like in the NFL.

Lechler
One such change will get a test run in the preseason this year -- moving the extra point back to increase the degree of difficulty.

"I’m not a big fan of messing with tradition at all," Lechler said earlier this week during Matt Schaub's charity golf tournament. "It will be interesting to see how it works. It’s one of those things, I think in my opinion, I think it’s gonna have to be supported by all the teams to make this change. Messing with tradition is just tough for me, I think."

The idea behind this change is that the extra point is not a particularly important play because it's too easy for kickers. And while Lechler doesn't agree with that, he does admit the change would add intrigue.

"I mean, it’s still gotta be a great snap, a hold and a kick," Lechler said. "It’s still all three things and I think, yeah, everybody, it seems to be a given every time you kick it, but all of a sudden there’s three or four a year that don’t make it and that’s a big difference in a ball game. Now, if you move it back, yeah, would it bring more interest in the two-point conversion? Of course. If you just go 50 percent you cover up for missed PATs. I think there would probably be more interest in it, but I just don’t like changing the game. I think we’re doing way too much of that right now."
video

Field Yates discusses how Arian Foster should be able to fit into the Texans' new offensive system upon his return from back surgery.
video

ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates discusses Johnny Manziel's score on the Wonderlic and how it could affect his draft stock.
Reading the coverage of the Houston Texans...

Texans defensive line coach Bill Kollar was inducted into the Senior Bowl Hall of fame, writes Mark Inabinett of the Birmingham News. Kollar was the Senior Bowl MVP in 1974.
"He's definitely a heck of a talent," Kollar said of Jadeveon Clowney. "Obviously, he didn't have the year that he would have liked to statistic-wise this year like he did the year before. You still see it. He got double-teamed a lot and everything else, but without a doubt, he's still a heck of a football player.

"And the same with that Khalil Mack. I mean he is something when you end up watching him. I don't know if you'd say he's a dark horse, but you really hadn't heard that much about him earlier in the year. As the year progressed, he just kept playing better and better and has really put himself in a good position right now."
And speaking of Hall of Fames, Andre Johnson was inducted into the University of Miami sports hall of fame, writes Susan Miller Degnan and Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald. Marc Vandermeer, currently the voice of the Texans, was the voice of Johnson's Miami team and posted this photo.

Arian Foster said again on Thursday that he would participate in organized team activities, writes Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. Foster, who had back surgery in November, made the statement at a media availability before he Houston premiere of "Draft Day," the movie starring Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner in which Foster had a part.

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