Houston Texans Training Camp Preview: Wide Receiver Depth
Though the Houston Texans barely missed out on a playoff berth in 2009, quarterback Matt Schaub had a breakout season with a league-high 4,770 yards, 29 touchdowns, and 15 completions of 40 yards or more.
Schaub will readily admit much of the credit goes to his receivers, who have continually improved over the past several years. While Andre Johnson remains a model of consistency and the embodiment of a complete receiver in the National Football League, others such as Jacoby Jones, Kevin Walter, and Owen Daniels have made the receiving core more complete.
Look for more improvements from them this season.
No. 80 Andre Johnson: Can star receiver put contract issues aside?
Johnson continued to produce gaudy statistics in 2009 finishing with 101 catches, 1569 yards and nine touchdowns.
For the Texans coaching staff, on the field production from Johnson is not a concern. In May, he missed several days of OTAs to express his displeasure towards the team with his contract.
Johnson has five years remaining on his current contract and will earn a base salary of $5.8 million. The University of Miami receiver will likely seek a deal similar to one the Miami Dolphins reached with Brandon Marshall in the off-season.
Johnson, team owner Bob McNair, and general manager Rick Smith said they are open on discussing the restructuring of the contract before training camp begins.
No. 12 Jacoby Jones: Can speedy wideout complement Johnson?
Texans coach Gary Kubiak said the receiver has matured immeasurably since an incident last season kept him off the team plane at Tennessee. Kubiak said Jones was one of the team's top players during OTAs last month.
Jones only had 27 catches for 437 yards last season, but will likely push Kevin Walter for the No. 2 position in training camp.
No. 83 Kevin Walter: Has consistent receiver turned into a deep threat?
Over the past two years, Kevin Walter has developed a knack for making catches on underneath routes. In the offseason, Walter added a new component to his game: the ability to get open on deep routes down the sideline.
Walter's newfound speed prompted Matt Schaub to joke "Walter got faster in the offseason." Walter has had at least 53 catches in each of the last three seasons.
No. 11 Andre Davis: Can veteran remain on team?
With the addition of speedster Trindon Holliday in the draft, many questioned whether veteran receiver and returner Andre Davis was expendable.
At times during OTAs, Davis looked like the Texans best receiver in the absence of Andre Johnson. Davis made several spectacular catches down the field and impressed the coaches with his work ethic.
"I'm not going down without a fight," Davis said.
No. 85 Owen Daniels: Can the All-Pro tight end rebound from injury?
Tight end Owen Daniels was on his way to another Pro Bowl season last year when he tore his ACL at Buffalo and missed the remainder of the season. Daniels said the rehabilitation process on his knee is going smoothly, but coach Gary Kubiak is unsure if he will be ready to return for training camp.
Daniels' presence will be critical for the Texans' playoff chances.
No. 17 Glenn Martinez: More production needed from backup
Backup receiver Glenn Martinez provides speed and help on special teams, but has caught the ball infrequently over the past two seasons. During that time, Martinez only has a combined three catches.
He didn't help his cause that much during OTAs as he was forced to the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
No. 19 Dorin Dickerson: Can rookie make transition to receiver?
During the combine, Dorin Dickerson impressed Texans scouts with his 4.4 speed, his vertical leap that approached 40 inches and his 230 pound frame. Now Dickerson will have to make the transition to receiver after playing running back, fullback, linebacker and tight end in college at Pitt.
Kubiak thinks Dickerson has all the tools to be a productive receiver, he just thinks it might take some time.
No. 16 Trindon Holliday: Former track stars looks for playing time
Trindon Holliday owns a personal-best of 10.00 in the 100 meters and nearly set Chris Johnson's record for fastest 40 at the NFL Combine. He has little experience, though, at receiver and coach Gary Kubiak said it showed during OTAs.
Kubiak wants Holliday to learn the playbook better and get acquainted with the nuances of the position as soon as possible. Holliday has a good chance to make the team on special teams.