July 22, 2024

Position battles to watch in Texans training camp


The Houston Texans’ surprise run to an AFC South title in 2023 changed the team’s offseason outlook from a potential playoff team in 2024 to a dark-horse Super Bowl contender.

Here are three key position battles to watch when training camp opens on July 18.

Wide receiver

Projected starter(s): Nico Collins, Stefon Diggs

Player to watch: Tank Dell, Noah Brown, John Metchie

The Texans currently have 13 receivers under contract, and eight of them should be on an NFL roster in 2024. It’s clear that Diggs, Collins and Dell are the top three guys, but where do guys Noah Brown, John Metchie and Robert Woods fit in?

Dell is the real wild card here. He was having one heck of a rookie season (47 receptions, 75 targets, 709 yards, seven touchdowns) before he was derailed by injury. If he comes back fully healthy and picks up right where he left off, does that push Diggs down the depth chart?

Because of his resume, which includes four Pro Bowls and two All-Pro selections, many expect Diggs to step right in as the de facto No. 1 or No. 2 WR, but what if Stroud, who’s already built a strong rapport with both Collins and Dell, doesn’t target Diggs as much as he’d like? Does the locker room suddenly become toxic?

Defensive end

Projected starter(s): Will Anderson, Danielle Hunter

Player(s) to watch: Denico Autry, Derek Barnett, Mario Edwards

Anderson is the reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and Hunter finished fifth in the NFL with 16.5 sacks last season, so it’s face to assume both of their jobs are safe. But Autry was 12th in sacks last season (11.5), and he’s clearly more than a rotational player. Does he take over the other defensive end spot and push Hunter to outside linebacker?

Barnett and Edwards are both depth players, so it’ll be interesting to see how they’re incorporated into the game plan. Do they play more on early downs and allow the big guns (Anderson, Hunter and Autry) to come in on third down or obvious pass-rush situations, or are they used primarily when the big three need a breather?

Cornerback

Projected starter(s): Derek Stingley Jr., Jeff Okudah

Player(s) to watch: Kamari Lassiter, C.J. Henderson

Stingley Jr. is the unquestioned top cornerback on Houston’s roster, but the rest of the depth chart isn’t so certain. It’s presumed that Okudah, who had a solid season with the Falcons in 2023 (61.5 completion percentage allowed, eight passes defensed, zero touchdowns surrendered), is penciled in as the No. 2 guy.

But Lassiter is disruptive in coverage downfield and he really shined with his play recognition at Georgia last season. He could be someone to keep an eye on. Henderson left much to be desired during his stints in Jacksonville and Carolina, but he’s a former ninth overall pick who at one point was viewed as a potential shutdown corner. Perhaps a change of scenery does him well.





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