Competition warming on the slot receiver


One of the more interesting battles for position in the camp is the slot receiver. Keke Coutee, Anthony Miller and Alex Erickson compete for playing time between the outside receivers.

When coach David Culley was asked Friday about Miller, who was acquired in a dealership with Chicago three days before camp started, he said, “He’s a perfect fit for Keke and Alex in this position. All he has done is to make the competition even (better). “

Inside receivers rely on speed and robustness. They bounce around like pinball machines and have to read reports and make shared decisions.

Miller (5-11, 199), Coutee (5-11, 187) and Erickson (6-0, 195) play for money. Miller and Coutee are in the final year of their contract. Erickson signed a one-year free agent contract. The decision of who to keep will depend on production, especially when preseason games start in Green Bay next week.

Dial down

Even though the players like to practice with shoulder pads, the coaches and staff are even more excited. Trainer David Culley, General Manager Nick Caserio and their staff saw enough Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to take the intensity down a few levels on Friday.

The coaches made it easy for the players on Friday with a short training session in mussels. The hardest thing they faced while preparing for training on Saturday night was a rainstorm.

“We’ve had three really good pad days,” said Culley. “Basically, today was just a day of rest and we can do a really good job tomorrow evening. Today was what we call assignment, alignment, communication and guys (working) on ​​their tech.

“I couldn’t ask for more than these three pad days, especially the last one. The effort was outstanding. The finish (games) was exactly what we wanted (but the consistency is still not there. “

John McClain discusses the easy training of the Texans in front of fans and Olympic gymnastics great Simone Biles. Video: Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle

He has legs

One reason the Texans signed quarterback Tyrod Taylor, an 11-year-old veteran, was his mobility. They aren’t asking Taylor to be Deshaun Watson, one of the NFL’s most creative quarterbacks when the games crash and he’s on the move, but they want his running skills to have an impact on defense.

“If you have a guy back there who can use his feet to get positive meters, that’s a plus,” said David Culley of Taylor.

During the first two weeks of camp, Taylor demonstrated his mobility inside and outside. He can run for yards or he can avoid the rush to buy time until a receiver is opened. His agility will put pressure on the defense.

The last time Taylor stayed healthy enough to be a regular starter was during a three-year period (2015-17) in Buffalo, where he scored 14 touchdowns.

Overcrowded field on DL

If the squad is reduced to 53 in the week leading up to the regular season, the Texans may not have a tougher cut than on their line of defense.

Bobby King, the defensive line coach, has 15 players, including nine newbies. Of the nine new linemen, eight are veterans. Four of his linemen are 3-4 converted linebackers – Whitney Mercilus, Jacob Martin, Jonathan Greenard, and Jordan Jenkins.

Watching the training and trying to find four starters in two weeks of training is impossible, probably even for King. You have so many linemen going in and out that it’s hard to keep up with them.

But based on practice, that group should help the defense improve significantly against the run and put enough pressure on the quarterback to secure more than the nine takeaways the Texans recorded in 2020.

Pie-in-the-sky projections

The Texans’ four best running backs are proven NFL veterans who have been successful with other teams. When fans see Mark Ingram II, David Johnson, Phillip Lindsay and Rex Burkhead in action, they can imagine what it would be like if everyone combined their best seasons with runs, landings and touchdowns.

Johnson would have 2,118 yards to scrimmage and 21 touchdowns. Ingram would be next with 1,540 yards and 17 touchdowns. Lindsay would have 1,278 yards and 10 touchdowns and Burkhead 598 yards and eight touchdowns.

Of course, that won’t happen this season, but the coaches want at least one of them to come close to their best career performance in an offense that seeks more balance between run and pass.

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