Texans Training Camp: Top burning questions
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. – You can forget about mini-camps and OTAs because real football is about to start.
Your Houston Texans arrived in West Virginia to open training camp Thursday, so the journey to the opener at New England begins. They will set up at The Greenbrier resort for 12 days, but it won't be a resort atmosphere as Bill O'Brien treats the stay as a business trip.
Camp consists of early mornings, late nights of film and meetings. There is nothing fun about training camp.
Last season the Texans were a dismal 4-12 and fell apart by Week 6 thanks to a rash of injuries to key players. O'Brien had a string of three straight 9-7 seasons prior to this setback so in 2018 he and the Texans are poised to make a run at the playoffs out of the AFC South if they can stay healthy and get some answers regarding key positions.
Here are the top questions entering camp:
Deshaun Watson: This will be the top story line of training camp as Watson looks to respond and rebound from his ACL injury last season. He played in six games and in five starts the Texans averaged 39 points a game. Don't expect them to match that, but it was fun to watch in 2017. Watson is a superstar in the making, but has a small sample size and questions on if he can stay healthy in 2018. If so, look out.
JJ Watt: He is coming off of a tibial plateau fracture and has been on a long road to recovery but he has made tremendous progress. He is itching to get back on the football field. Will we see the Watt of old where he was a three-time Defensive Player of the Year or will he be at the level of being just a productive defensive lineman?
Whitney Mercilus: He returns to lead the defense at linebacker after he suffered a torn pectoral muscle last year that ended his season after five weeks. With Jadeveon Clowney on the field, they will provide a potent one-two punch.
Romeo Crennel: That familiar face returns as defensive coordinator for the Texans after a year away from running the defense while serving instead as assistant head coach while Mike Vrabel ran the defense. This group needs work especially in the secondary. Last year's defense gave up 27 points a game which was the worst in the league. Crennel's defense two years ago was ranked No. 1 and he plans to get that label back with Watt, Mercilus plus new additions like safety Tyrann Mathieu and veteran cornerback Aaron Colvin to bolster the defense. Last year they gave up 30 touchdown passes. The secondary has to improve.
Running Game: Good news is that they have a few to work with. Lamar Miller is back as is Alfred Blue. They will get most of the camp reps until D'Onta Foreman returns from his torn Achilles. He is close but opens on the PUP list. O'Brien hopes Foreman is ready for Week 1, but that's not likely.
Other areas of concern: Obviously the offensive line, which is a huge question mark, along with tight end, which lacks depth after the retirement of C.J. Fiedorowicz.
The journey begins now in West Virginia and in two weeks when camp returns to Houston.
KPRC Channel 2 Sports has you covered on air, online and on social media. Follow sports director Randy McIlvoy, and reporters Adam Wexler and Lainie Fritz throughout camp and the preseason.
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