Texans Training Camp Primer: Offensive Line

Texans Training Camp Primer: Offensive Line

It is closing in on Houston Texans 2014 training camp and here at State of the Texans we will cover all of the position groups and players leading up to day one of training camp.

Texans Offensive Line

Veterans Key to the Group

The Texans have a solid nucleus with veteran center Chris Myers and left tackle Duane Brown. Myers has been a quiet leader for the offense and has taken a bigger step on the field and will be introduced to a more diverse scheme offensively. Myers excelled in the zone blocking scheme with his undersized frame, but he will be asked to do much more this season with moving players off the line of scrimmage. It should be something to watch with the new scheme and how it might affect Myers’ previous playing style. One thing is for sure, Myers will not let the new responsibilities be an excuse for his play on the field.

Duane Brown struggled early in the 2013 season with all the weight he shed during that offseason, but he added his weight back on during the season to help him anchor against pass rushers. This season he has kept to what has made him successful and that is keeping the weight on to help keep his play at a high level. Brown will be counted on to provide what all NFL teams need, a book end left tackle to make life easy for quarterbacks. He will be a key component to help the new left guard get accustomed to how things happen during game time. Brown and Myers are key leaders for an offense heading into a new era for the Texans.

A Budding Star

It took a full rookie season of getting his weight right and splitting time to get Brandon Brooks on the field in 2013. The mammoth right guard had a solid sophomore campaign, despite a terrible team season, and has the makings to push as one of the best interior lineman in the NFL. Brooks can clear defensive linemen when he gets a flat back and drive them off the line of scrimmage. He still needs polishing as a pass protector, but when he gets his hands on pass rushers they are usually stopped in their tracks. He and Myers feed off of each other and showed when he is working in unison with Derek Newton they can cave in a defensive line to open running lanes.

Seeing what Brooks has in store for his third season in the NFL will be something to watch. With playing experience coupled with confidence, Brooks’ stock could not be any higher for the Texans.

Best Man Wins*

The left guard position will come down to Ben Jones and rookie Xavier Su’a-Filo*. The plan is to get Su’a-Filo into place before week one, but he will have to show that he can get the system down to unseat Jones. Jones is better suited for playing center, but since entering the NFL he has been shuffled around from right guard to now left guard. The movement around as a player has hurt him by not learning one specific position, but his value as a Texan lies in his versatility to play any of the three interior spots.

As for Su’a-Filo, he missed all of OTAs due to finishing up at UCLA. It is now up to him to catch up during training camp. Considered a sure plug and play player, Su’a-Filo was considered one of the best interior offensive linemen in the NFL draft. For the three-day Mandatory Mini-Camp, Su’a-Filo looked like he had a grasp of the offensive system, but the reality of the situation is he is playing catchup. He is the future at left guard for the Texans and how soon he gets there is just a matter of time.

Question Mark

The scapegoat of the offensive line in 2013, Head Coach Bill O’Brien has already named Derek Newton the starting right tackle for the season. Newton claims that he is healthy and his knee is no longer an issue, which slowed him in 2013. Newton was coming off major knee surgery in the offseason prior to the opening of 2013 but now he looks like he has shed some weight and is more athletic than previous seasons. The struggles were real for Newton last season, especially in pass protection where he struggled in his pass set. Seeing how the new offensive staff gets through to Newton will be key to see if there is any progress for the 4th year player.

The Group

The Texans offensive line is rounded out with veteran Cody White and newly signed Will Yeatman, who is coming off an ACL injury suffered with the Miami Dolphins in 2013. Rookies Matt Feiler, James Ferentz, Anthony Dimaand Brian Witzmann will all be vying for some spot on the team, but a better feel for what the group can do will happen when training camp opens.

One player to keep an eye on will be offensive tackle Brennan Williams, who is coming off microfracture knee surgery on an injury suffered during rookie mini-camp. Williams’ status is up in the air and, if the Texans can get him healthy in any way to be on the team when week one kicks off, it will be a big boost to an offensive line that needs tackle depth.

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