Breaking Down Houston Texans' Biggest Training Camp Battles

Matt GoldsteinContributor IIJuly 20, 2013

Breaking Down Houston Texans' Biggest Training Camp Battles

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    How, you ask, can a team like the Houston Texans—who essentially have a complete roster—possibly have so many roster battles?

    Well, five isn't that much, but you get the point.

    The Texans' training camp will feature some high-profile, high-intensity and high-stakes roster battles. Players will be competing for starting jobs, roster spots and their careers.

    Find out which players will be participating in these battles, read on!

Third-String Running Back

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    Cierre Wood vs. Dennis Johnson vs. Ray Graham vs. Deji Karim

    By far, this will be the most fun roster battle to watch during training camp. Primarily, this is because each and every player participating has an equal shot to claim the job. 

    These four running backs will pour their hearts into winning this competition. All of them will likely have a minimal chance of making another NFL roster if they do not get the job.

    Interestingly enough, all four backs possess two common traits: they all have excellent vision, and they are all very effective when moving laterally.

    Sound familiar? It should, as those two traits are what have made Arian Foster's career.

    The Texans like very specific running backs—they need ones that can produce in their zone-blocking scheme—so it should come with no surprise that the four backs competing for the third-string job all share similar talents.

    However, this will also make it very difficult for the coaching staff to finally choose which running back they like most. Don't expect the decision to come until after the team wraps up all four preseason games.




Backup Nosetackle

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    Terrell McClain vs. Chris Jones vs. Ra'shon Harris

    The backup nose tackle job on the Texans is a much, much bigger backup job than other ones on the roster (pun intended).

    In all seriousness, the starting and backup nose tackle jobs are almost interchangeable on the Texans' defense. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips loves to rotate his nose tackles to keep them fresh and full of energy.

    So this roster competition for the backup job actually holds many implications for the Texans' future.

    Terrell McClain is currently the favorite to win the job, for obvious reasons; he actually has experience in the league. Also, McClain was the only one of the trio who impressed during OTAs.

    And while Ra'Shon Harris is a long shot, Chris Jones has a legitimate chance of usurping McClain. Jones was one of the Texans' sixth-round draft choices, and he has a ton of potential.

    Jones has an endless motor, much like J.J. Watt. He goes as hard as possible on every single play. The Texans coaching staff loves players like that, and if Jones can perform well during training camp, the Texans would definitely consider handing him the reins to the backup job.


Starting Right Tackle

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    Derek Newton vs. Brennan Williams vs. Ryan Harris

    The right tackle position for the Texans was ugly last season, and it isn't about to get any prettier. The very fact that there will be a major competition at this position for the starting job is a huge cause for concern.

    Derek Newton is the favorite to retain his starting job, but it is completely unknown whether or not he'll be healthy for the start of training camp, as he is recovering from major knee surgery

    Due to Newton's potential injury issues, Brennan Williams and Ryan Harris will both have excellent opportunities to claim the job from the incumbent starter.

    Williams is a pure athlete who can one day become a star in this league. He, however, has to develop his game before he even has a chance of becoming a starter.

    Ryan Harris is a veteran who has struggled with injuries in recent years. His experience is certainly appealing, but his natural talents may have degraded to a point where he's incapable of starting.

    If Newton is healthy for the start of the season, he will be the starter.

Starting Right Guard

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    Brandon Brooks vs. Ben Jones

    Many people don't even consider this a competition.

    According to general consensus, Brandon Brooks has already won the starting job. And it certainly looks that way. Brooks is in great shape, and he is a far superior athlete to Ben Jones. The Texans also played him as the starting right guard during OTAs.

    Furthermore, Jones had a terrible season last year. Pass-rushers flew by him on a consistent basis; he could not move defensive linemen back on running plays.

    Jones, though, will be given every opportunity to win back his starting job. If he outpreforms Brooks during training camp and preseason—which is unlikely—then the Texans will name him the starter.

Third-String Quarterback

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    Case Keenum vs. Texans Philosophy

    It's a rare time when a premier training camp roster battle involves a player competing against nobody, but that is exactly what Keenum will be doing this summer.

    Keenum has absolutely no competition for the third-string quarterback job; Stephen McGee is not even close to him. But that will not assure the former Houston Cougar a roster spot.

    On most teams in the NFL, keeping three quarterbacks is the norm. The Texans, however, usually only keep only two signal-callers, preferring to relegate the final roster spot to a special teams' contributor.

    If Keenum continues to perform as well as he did during rookie minicamp and OTAs, though, the Texans may be forced to consider a shift in their philosophy. Currently, the general belief is that they will.