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 Defensive Line
Cream of the Crop
It is hard not to argue that defensive end J.J. Watt is the best defensive lineman in the NFL, especially because of what he has done the past two seasons for the Texans. Watt has a rare blend of size, speed and power that allows him to be a technician in the trenches.
He has been able to free lance some the past two seasons and this year it will be something to watch on how Romeo Crennel will use Watt with his two gap
scheme. Watt will be asked to two gap like the rest of the defensive line, but expect Watt to do what he does best and make plays.
Watt is the most talented player on the defense and he will be leaned on heavily to make plays. With a retooled front seven, there could be bigger things
on the horizon for Watt.
Crick is the only one of the group that is a sure lock for the week one roster and should be the starting base defensive end. It is a big season for Crick
who is entering his third year with the Texans and will be counted on to occupy blockers to free up the linebacker.
Jamison and Browner could be odd men out in Crennel’s new system. Jamison is a touch undersized and last season he was not utilized much by the team, which
led to some questions on why he was not used more. His best attributes as a player is his ability to heat up the passer by pushing the pocket in his pass
rush. Jamison’s future rests with injury concerns in front of him at defensive end, but it will be an upward climb for the 6th year Texan.
As for Browner, he has been on the practice squad for the Texans the past two seasons and has morphed into a pro typical NFL defensive end at 6-4 and 288
lbs. Browner’s biggest issue has to be if he gets a fair shot at trying to win a roster spot with the Texans. With younger players and new faces brought in
by the new coaching staff, Browner could easily be a early victim of the numbers game.
Romeo Crennel brought in a familiar face that he had with him in Kansas City in nose tackle Jerrell Powe, who will more than likely start at nose tackle when week one opens up. Powe is the nose tackle, size wise, that the fan base has been clamoring for over the past two seasons. At 331 lbs., Powe provides some veteran leadership for a relatively young defensive line group. He will do the dirty work on the defense to help the inside linebackers make plays.
Nose tackle Ricardo Mathews was added via free agency from the Indianapolis Colts and should be considered a depth player at the moment. Mathews, for 300
lbs., is a mover and a shaker that makes things happen, especially in his pass rush. He can work from any of the defensive line positions and could fill an
important depth role for the team. His versatility could be too much of an asset to overlook for a team that is looking for those qualities.
The Texans tried to handle their future on the defensive line by drafting nose tackle Louis Nix III and defensive end Jeoffery Pagan.
Nix is the headliner of the rookie defensive linemen and should be a contributor on day one for the defense. His 331 lbs. frame is another positive for a
defensive line that has not had this type of size in a long time. Nix is a mix of strength and some quickness that can allow him to be more than a two down
player. How he handles the transition when the pads come on is key and one thing to be impressed with is the amount of weight he has lost since he left
Notre Dame. Nix at one point last season was listed at over 350 lbs., but since arriving to Houston his movement skills look much improved.
Pagan is expected to be able to play all three defensive line positions when he gets healthy from off season surgery. He underwent a shoulder procedure
which caused him to miss mini-camps and OTAs in an effort to get him ready for training camp. He could be a huge asset as another big body for the defense
that could create some impressive space eating defensive linemen.
Rookie nose tackle Julius Warmsley turned a tryout from rookie mini-camp into a contract to get him to training camp while defensive end Tim Jackson was
added late in OTAs to help add some more bodies to the defensive line. Both will be pushing for practice squad spots heading into training camp, but more
will be known when they get mixing it up in pads.