David J. Phillip/Associated Press
Kicking Competition Remains Wide Open
According to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle, the competition for the starting role as the Texans' place-kicker remains wide open. Veteran Randy Bullock struggled badly during the first half of the year before turning things around and making all 12 attempts of his final seven games.
The Texans added local product Chris Boswell from Rice University as an undrafted free agent. Just like Bullock, Boswell also had a strong leg but shaky accuracy during college.
In what has become the norm for Bill O'Brien, he didn't say much, but he did hint that the competition wasn't closed. Per the Houston Chronicle: "Both guys have kicked well at times, and both guys probably wish they had a few kicks back."
The competition for the job will likely run through Week 3 of the preseason before cuts have to start being made. My expectation at this point is for Bullock to win the job.
Kareem Jackson Plays Well in the Slot
From P.D. Starr of State of the Texans, veteran cornerback Kareem Jackson was one of the few bright spots for the Texans secondary during their Thursday practice with Atlanta.
Kareem Jackson had one of the best days for the Texans today and he was all around the football. Matt Ryan’s first pass of the day was batted down by Jackson and almost had another one intercepted by Jackson who couldn’t control it before he could get his feet inbounds.
During the team session, the Falcons were having their way with the Texans moving the ball, but Jackson, playing the slot cornerback position, Jackson came up with a diving interception in the middle of the field to end the Falcons threat.
It appears that Jackson and not Brandon Harris will be the corner asked to play the pivotal role of slot corner this season. Whenever the Texans go into a sub-package and bring on an extra corner, Jackson will slide over to the slot with A.J. Bouye likely to come on as the new boundary corner.
With the growing trend of teams moving around their best receiver to take advantage of mismatches against the other team's third or fourth corner, Jackson's versatility and performance in the slot will be key for the Texans. Jackson has also been physical in run defense, which is a plus for the position.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is Locked In as the Texans Starting Quarterback
Despite an awful performance against the Cardinals during Week 1 of the preseason, Coach O'Brien hasn't wavered from his selection of Ryan Fitzpatrick to be the team's starting quarterback, which I've said many times on here would be the case.
From Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle, O'Brien was short but clear on who would be the Texans' starting quarterback.
Texans coach Bill O’Brien said a day after the loss that he would evaluate all spots on the team’s training-camp roster, including quarterback, in an attempt to improve from within. Monday, O’Brien used a one-word answer when asked whether Fitzpatrick is still locked in as the Texans’ starter.
“Yes,” O’Brien said.
The same brief answer was given when O’Brien was asked whether Case Keenum and Tom Savage are still battling for the backup spot.
The Case Keenum faithful seemed to get excited when news came out that the third-year quarterback got reps with the first-team offense on Thursday, but O'Brien quickly shut that down.
Like it or not, Fitzpatrick will be the guy for Week 1 of the regular season against the Washington Redskins.
Veteran Running Back Ronnie Brown Still Believes He Has Plenty Left in the Tank
From Dale Robertson of the Houston Chronicle, recently signed running back Ronnie Brown, who previously played with both the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins, believes he can still contribute after not seeing the field much in recent years.
Brown totaled only 133 carries from 2011 through 2013, although he did catch a personal-high 49 passes with San Diego in 2012.
"Going through two-a-days, we'll see," he said, smiling. "(But) health-wise, I feel pretty good. It feels good to get back on the field, get in the work, and get back into football shape. Obviously, it's a lot different working out at home (Atlanta) than being here in the Houston humidity."
I like the signing of Brown. Don't get me wrong: At age 32 he's not going to come in and make a huge impact, but he should be reliable, which is something the Texans need.
The big hit taken by rookie quarterback Tom Savage on the safety late in the Cardinals game was largely due to a missed block from second-year running back Dennis Johnson. It was an inexcusable mistake that cost Johnson his spot on the roster; as a longtime player Brown won't make that mistake.
Brown knows his role, knows what is expected from him, knows what it takes to prepare and get ready for a game and should provide good veteran leadership to young backs like Alfred Blue and Jonathan Grimes.