May and June is the season of football played in shorts. It's easy for young players to impress before the pads go on, and it's easy to find glowing quotes from coaches who have seemingly limitless expectations for the future of their rookie class.
So when Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak took time to also point out what third-round wide receiver DeVier Posey and fourth-round receiver Keshawn Martin need to work on, it says as much about Kubiak as it does about his young receivers.
What Kubiak thinks of his young pass-catchers isn't trivial because the team released 2011 No. 3 receiver Jacoby Jones and asked 2011 No. 2 receiver Kevin Walter to take a $1.5 million pay cut to stay with the team. In essence, the No. 3, 4 and 5 wide receivers are up for grabs, and the No. 2 job will be soon.
The Texans' official website reported Kubiak's thoughts on his rookie wide receivers. On Posey, Kubiak did call him a "hard worker" and said he was doing "good things" and making "some plays," presumably to give him something positive to hang his hat on, because at the same time, he called out Posey's conditioning:
"I want his conditioning level, and I’m not saying it’s bad but all these young guys need to get to where you can go all day in this Texas heat."
At least Kubiak lumped Posey in with the rest of the new arrivals.
On Martin, Kubiak's praise was more specific and encouraging, but the problem he saw was also something more difficult to correct than less-than-optimal conditioning. Kubiak said Martin was "doing well" and really liked his explosiveness. He also liked that he was "automatic" in catching the ball as a return man, but on whether that will carry over to live action, he cautioned that "you never find that out until it’s time to go play."
The troubling part of his comments on Martin concerned his ability to finish plays:
He needs to learn some things about the pro athlete that he’s going against because sometimes when he separates, he thinks it’s over. You’ve got to keep playing.
This is more of a mental thing than something Martin can correct with reps, which is perhaps why Kubiak also expressed reservations about the fourth-rounder performing the same way in games as he does in practice.
The performances of Posey and Martin in OTAs are more important for the Texans than the typical mid-round rookies, because they could determine whether the team pursues a veteran free agent or two like Plaxico Burress, Roy Williams or Greg Camarillo because they don't trust them as quality depth right out of the gate. David Anderson, a former Texan, is also out there, and if the draft picks don't show improvement in the next few weeks, he could be getting a call from his old coach.