Texans vs. Panthers: Blogger Q&A

I'm back up and running after a laptop hardrive crash yesterday so this post is coming out a little late. My apologies for that but we'll get right to it. Tim with Battle Red Blog was kind enough to answer five questions for me.

Question 1: How has the draft class looked so far? Any surprises?

Tim: Whitney Mercilus and Keshawn Martin have probably been the most impressive thus far. Mercilus' quick first step has been apparent in drills, and I think he'll be able to make an impact in the rotation at OLB. Martin has looked very solid at WR and should compete for time in the slot immediately. Even though Trindon Holliday will get first crack at returning punts on Saturday night, I would be surprised if Martin isn't the punt returner once the regular season rolls around.

On the other end of the spectrum are DeVier Posey and Jared Crick. Posey didn't look very good early, though recent reports out of camp are far more encouraging, and the veterans have spoken highly of his desire to put in extra work after practice. Crick, who was a guy most Texans fans were ecstatic to grab, has missed a fair amount of time with a neck injury, so he hasn't been able to show as much as we (perhaps irrationally) hoped. The good news is that it's still very, very early, and both of those guys have plenty of time to achieve what the Texans envisioned when they were drafted.
Question 2: What non-rookie has been the biggest surprise in training camp so far and why?
Tim: Now that you mention it, I guess there really haven't been too many guys I'd label as "surprises." To paraphrase Dennis Green, they kind of are are who we thought they are. If you pushed me on it, I suppose I'd say Derek Newton. He was a seventh-round draft pick in 2011, but he got a lot of buzz last year as a possible fit at RT. He's pushing Rashad Butler for the starting job there now.
Question 3: Is Matt Schaub fully healed? Is there concern he can last a whole season going forward?

Tim: All reports are that Schaub's fully healed, and he's confirmed as much in his comments to the press (though it's not like he'd say he wasn't 100% anyway). Schaub may have a reputation as injury-prone around the league, but I think it's inaccurate. It's not like the guy is getting nicked up and missing games; each of the injuries that have seen him miss any time occurred on truly fluke plays. People forget that Schaub played in every game from 2009 until he got hurt against the Bucs in Week 10 last year.
I'm no more concerned about Schaub missing time this year than I would be with any other QB. Every player is always just a hit or bad beat away from missing time.
Question 4: Are you happy with Kevin Walter as the #2 WR or were you hoping for someone else?

Tim: While Texans fans might talk a lot about upgrading from Kevin Walter at WR2, the fact is that K-Dub does his job in Gary Kubiak's offense very well. He's never been a burner, and he may have lost a step. But he's got good hands and he's a tremendous asset as a blocker. It's certainly possible to upgrade at WR from Kevin Walter, but it's not as easy as many seem to think it is. Although the hope is that Posey, Martin, or Lestar Jean can regularly force their way onto the field in two wideout sets, I don't see it happening this season.
Question 5: How long did it take before you knew you had something in RB Arian Foster?

Tim: Do you have any UDFA’s you think will make the roster this year? Arian Foster showed flashes in the last two games of the 2009 season when after being brough up from the practice squad, but no one had him penciled in as a difference-maker. Hell, the Texans were so impressed with Arian that they drafted Ben Tate in the second round a few months later. Tate was lost for the season in the first preseason game against Arizona that year, Steve Slaton never regained his mojo, and Arian Foster became the starting RB for your 2010 Houston Texans.
He then promptly went off for 231 rushing yards and 3 TDs on 33 carries against the Colts in Week One, and Texans fans realized Foster just might have a future in the NFL. We've been nuts about him since.
There won't be many opportunities for UDFAs to stick on this year's squad; there just aren't a lot of open roster spots. Nevertheless, I'd say that Case Keenum probably has the best chance of sticking as the third QB.
PREDICTION: At the end of the 2012 regular season, the Texans' record will be 10-6, which will be good for first place in the AFC South.

Thanks again Tim!

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