A big camp from Yates could mean a big payoff for the Texans
Sometimes I wonder if Gary Kubiak doesn't wonder if he somehow switched places with Bob Newhart.
After a long climb to the top of the AFC South in Houston, surely he has wondered if 2011 wasn't all a dream.
No, everything didn't go perfectly, but given the injuries his team suffered, it's hard to ask for anything more than a division title and a playoff win.
So other than being married to Suzanne Pleshette, what does Kubiak dream about now?
My guess is that he's concerned with running the perfect training camp.
Here's what it would look like.
Lestar Jean Would Be A Camp Star
Jean was impressive last year in camp before being lost for the season with injury. Now, a year later ,he finds the opportunity of a lifetime on his plate.
With Jacoby Jones mercifully put out of his (and the fans') misery in Houston, the Texans have an opening at wide receiver.
And by opening, I mean a gaping hole.
There's no need to cover the problem again, because the Texans would love for Jean to be the solution. While on the surface, it's the third wideout job that's open, Jean has a chance to rise far higher.
Kevin Walter is probably ill-suited as a No. 2 at this point. The Texans would love to see Jean, or any of the other young wideouts, make a strong argument in camp for more snaps. They already used Walter and Jones as a hybrid No. 2 for a few years, so it's clear they have no qualms about mixing things up.
Beyond Walter, Andre Johnson is the best wideout in football when healthy, but he's not always healthy. If he were to go down, Jean could find himself as the top target on a Super Bowl contending club.
For a former UDFA, that would be a dream come true. All it could take is a stellar training camp to set the wheels in motion.
T.J. Yates Would Light It Up
Obviously, Matt Schaub is going to be the starter, and I predict he'll be a top-three quarterback in the AFC if he holds up all year.
When you have a team as solid as the Texans, you can afford to worry about things like the backup quarterback. In this case, a huge preseason from Yates has the potential to help the Texans down the road.
First, great play from Yates improves the team's bargaining position when dealing with Schaub come contract time. I expect them to re-sign him, but having Yates in their back pocket increases their leverage and could help lessen the sting of what is sure to be a monster deal.
Second, even if Schaub is healthy all year, if Yates is great in camp and preseason, his value goes off the charts as a trade chip. If the team does lock up Schaub, they'll have a commodity in Yates that they could flip for a first or second-round pick in the draft.
Nothing is more attractive to teams than someone else's backup quarterback. Yates could bring a haul from a team desperate for a perceived upgrade at quarterback.
The Offensive Line Would Gel
Of all the moves the Texans did and didn't make this offseason, the most criticized was the decision to cut Eric Winston for cap purposes.
If the offensive line doesn't come together in camp, those complaints will intensify.
What Houston has going for them is that they are promoting from within on the line. As much as individual linemen get attention, true line value is formed in cohesiveness and continuity. The Texans may be rebuilding the right side of the line, but they are doing it with familiar faces.
Rashad Butler and Antoine Caldwell may be uninspiring replacements on the surface, but the fact that they are well versed in Houston's blocking scheme makes them ideal.
It's never worth mentioning injuries in these pieces, because obviously, all coaches dream of not having injuries. The Texans are especially sensitive to the topic based on what happened last year. If they want to keep Schaub upright all year, seeing the line coalesce would be a big step toward accomplishing that.
Kubiak would love to run five Pro Bowlers out there every week, but he knows it's not necessary. A good line is bonded and formed in training camp, and seeing it happen in training camp is a consummation devoutly to be wished.