This NFL combine is different for Houston Texans general manager Bill O’Brien.
Achieving a successful offseason won’t be easy for the newly appointed general manager. For reasons that include the tight salary cap, personnel gaps and zero first-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, as the Texans traded it away to the Dolphins in the Laremy Tunsil/Kenny Stills deal.
But the combine is the first step.
O’Brien has emphasized a desire to get to know players on a personal level, and this is the chance to do that.
Here are 4 of the biggest takeaways of the 2020 NFL Combine:
Tytus Howard appears to be in good health
The Texans were impressed by offensive tackle Tytus Howard at last year’s combine.
After being drafted in the first round, he battled several injuries. He was out Week 1 against the Saints with a broken hand and sprained his MCL in Week 6. Howard was placed on injured reserve Week 13.
According to O’Brien, Howard is making progress.
“To put a timetable on it, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you,” O’Brien said.
He added that Howard should be able to “do some things in the offseason program.”
O’Brien is aware of salary cap challenges
The Texans have about $41 million in cap space, but that won't last long.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson and offensive tackle Tunsil are expected to take most of that, which doesn’t leave the Texans with much to work with.
“It’s very challenging,” O’Brien said. “You have to do as good a job as you can of making sure you take care of your quarterback. I think that’s important when you have a great young quarterback. But at the same time, you’ve got to have a team around him.”
Tim Kelly calling the plays is a big deal
O’Brien trusting offensive coordinator Tim Kelly to call the plays this upcoming season should satisfy Texans fans.
Kelly will be a breath of fresh air, although it’s only fair to point out he is a direct product of O’Brien. Kelly began his career as a graduate assistant for the Penn State back in 2012 when O’Brien was the head coach.
O’Brien has a lot of respect for Kelly, who will also serve as the quarterback coach.
“Players really respect him, and he just does a great job," O’Brien said. "Great knowledge of the whole offense from the passing game to the running game.”
Team schedules interviews with running backs
This isn’t a shock, but the Texans are seeking to add depth to the running back position.
According to Mark Lane of Texans Wire, several players have captured the Texans’ attention.
The team has set up interviews with Lamical Perine of Florida, Anthony McFarland of Maryland, Salvon Ahmed of Washington and Cam Akers of Florida State.