8 Early Winners and Losers of the Houston Texans' Offseason

Matt GoldsteinContributor IIJune 17, 2012

8 Early Winners and Losers of the Houston Texans' Offseason

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    The regular season is still far, far away, but the Houston Texans have had a fair share of winners and losers early this offseason.

    Some players are performing way above expectations, while others have not played well enough yet to earn more playing time.

    Some players have been given new opportunities in the NFL due to the Texans' free-agency losses, while others are losing chances quickly.

    Here are the early winners and losers of the Texans' offseason. 

Winner: Keshawn Martin

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    When the former Michigan State wide receiver was drafted in the fourth round of the NFL draft, many thought that the only contribution he was going to make to the team would be his returning ability.

    Martin, however, has been turning heads at OTAs, and he is in serious contention to win the much-sought-after third receiving job.

    His playmaking ability that the Texans drafted him for has been evident so far, both as a receiver and in his return game. He has displayed great pass-catching ability and also has shown fluidity in and out of his cuts.

    Martin has shown that he is much more than just a punt/kick returner, and if he can continue his hot play throughout training camp and the preseason, then he may very well end up with the final starting job in the receiving corps. 

Loser: DeVier Posey

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    DeVier Posey, who was drafted in the third round of the NFL draft, is in the exact opposite situation that Keshawn Martin is.

    Posey was selected to take over the job of the released Jacoby Jones as the team's third receiver, and for good reason. 

    Posey had an excellent career at Ohio State University, where he flashed potential of having the skills to be a big-time receiver in the NFL. He caught everything that was thrown at him, ran great routes and made huge plays for the offense.

    Then, after the Ohio State scandal, he was suspended for 10 games in his final year in college, which may have hindered his development as a player.

    This fact caused him to drop all the way to the third round to the Texans on draft day, and it may be causing him to lose his grip on the third receiving job.

    Posey has been incredibly inconsistent so far this offseason, and it has led to wide receivers coach Larry Kirksey to say that Keshawn Martin is actually ahead of Posey at this point.

    Posey has been stellar at certain times during OTAs, but other times he has played like a lackluster athlete. He could very well drop far short of his expectations and receive little playing time in the regular season.

Winner: Brooks Reed

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    Brooks Reed helped make Texans fans forget about Mario Williams' season-ending pectoral injury last season, and now he has the opportunity to make them easily forget about Williams' departure in free agency.

    The former second-rounder got his chance to play last season when Williams suffered his injury, and he exceeded the expectations that were placed on him when he was drafted.

    Reed compiled six sacks in 11 games started last year, and the rookie showed that he could excel in Wade Phillips' defensive scheme.

    With the loss of Mario Williams in free agency, Reed instantly becomes one of the biggest winners in the Texans' offseason. In his sophomore year, he will get to back up his impressive stats from last season as one of the team's full-time starting outside linebackers.

Loser: Kareem Jackson

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    Things never seem to go right for the oft-criticized Kareem Jackson.

    When Jason Allen signed with the Cincinnati Bengals, it seemed that Jackson was finally going to get the opportunity to be the team's undoubted starter as the second cornerback.

    None of the players behind Jackson could be completely trusted to step up and split playing time with him the way Allen did last season.

    Then, the Texans went out and signed Alan Ball, and Jackson was thrust into the same role he played last season: the starting cornerback with no room for mistake.

    If Jackson begins to struggle, he will not be allowed to stay on the field and try to play himself out of it. Instead, Ball will come in to replace him, much like what Allen did last season.

    The signing of Ball showed once again that the coaching staff did not have complete faith in Jackson.

Winner: James Casey

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    James Casey is living the life right now in the NFL.

    In the upcoming season, he will get to embrace his loves of the game: blocking and catching the football.

    Already the team's starting fullback, Casey received word from Gary Kubiak that he would also be the backup tight end, a role that receives a good amount of playing time since the Texans often utilize two tight end sets.

    Casey will get to be the lead blocker for one of the best running backs in the NFL, while also gaining the opportunity to be a dangerous receiving threat in passing situations.

    He will be an important piece of the Texans' offense next season, and his versatility should allow him to succeed.

Loser: Garrett Graham

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    James Casey's promotion to being the team's No. 2 tight end was not good for everybody.

    Garrett Graham, who was slated to take over for the departed Joel Dreessen, now finds himself in almost the exact same situation as last year.

    After spending years as the team's third-string tight end behind Owen Daniels and Dreessen, Graham's chance to prove himself finally came when Dreessen did not re-sign.

    Now, after the announcement that Casey will be the team's backup tight end, Graham will continue to receive little playing time off the bench.

Winner: Lestar Jean

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    Lestar Jean was a winner of last year's offseason, and now he is currently a winner of this year's offseason.

    Jean is impressing everyone at Texans minicamp right now, even the veterans Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning, whom he streaked by for a huge reception.

    His work ethic, which actually caused his stock to fall in his draft, is now astounding everyone. Not only is he pushing himself to the limit physically, but he is also working to vastly expand his understanding of the game.

    He is constantly quizzing Andre Johnson in an effort to further his football knowledge, and he has demonstrated a complete understanding of the playbook.

    If Jean can continue to amaze, then the former undrafted free agent may very well end up as one of the team's starting wide receivers.

Loser: Darryl Sharpton

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    The trade of DeMeco Ryans opened up new chances for Darryl Sharpton to succeed in the NFL.

    The middle linebacker, who was actually outplaying Ryans before he was placed on injured reserve with a quad injury, was going to start alongside Brian Cushing as an inside backer.

    Then, the Texans went out and signed Bradie James, a linebacker who excelled in Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme in Dallas and led the Cowboys in tackles for six straight seasons.

    James, who is a leader, will likely claim the starting job at middle linebacker, forcing Sharpton to spend another season as the team's primary backup, awaiting his opportunity to be a starter in the NFL.