The theme around Houston Texans training camp is to forget what has happen in 2013 and concentrate on the here and now. Those words come with a clean slate passed out by Head Coach Bill O’Brien and his staff when they arrived in Houston to players held over from the previous roster.
A new set of evaluators and coaches are working to put forth a new plan, players who were overlooked and have a new lease on life with their football career in
2014. With training camp opening it has helped some put these new teachings in motion and help push some Texans into discussion for making personnel decisions
tougher as the preseason approaches.
Mike Mohamed, Jawanza Starling and Jonathan Grimes have all taken this new opportunity and made the most of it since camp opened. It has shown up with
their play on the field and what they have produced on the field heading into their first preseason game.
With Akeem Dent and Brian Cushing on the mend from their respective injuries, Mike Mohamed has slowly crept up the depth chart since the Texans started
their full contact practices.
Mohamed has played some stout run defense and is playing the physical brand of football Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel wants to see from the inside
“You just want to go out there and be physical and it’s real football now.” Mohamed said, “Moving around without the pads is great and all, but you don't
really don’t get that football sense.”
The key to Mohamed’s rise is his increased time on the field and putting good practices on film,
“I think whenever you get more reps and more practice you get used to playing.” Mohamed continued, “More reps is definitely good.”
He showed he can play special teams in 2013 and now he is proving he can succeed in the new defense. His early production in camp has caught the coaches
attention and he has been a standout for the run defense.
In 2013, Jawanza Starling was brought in as an undrafted free agent from USC and was cut at the end of camp then eventually was picked up by the New York Giants. He returned to Houston after injuries and the overall disappointment with the safety position. Starling was on the 53 man roster but saw action in
only two games on special teams.
“I have to take advantage of every opportunity that I have.” Starling said, “Being undrafted I don't have as many chances as a guy that comes in the
first round. I just have to make the most of all the opportunities I get.”
Starling understands what it takes to take the next step from year one to two and he feels like he has done that. The second year free safety said, “I feel
like I have taken a big step from last year.”
His big step came from eating right, understanding offenses and what the opponents are trying to accomplish play to play. His offseason preparation has
made a big difference and produced some good progress at free safety during training camp.
It has been enough to put him on the field pushing for a spot at free safety and he is knows what he is up against to make this team.
“I am just trying to improve from where I came in from last year.”
The familiar face in running back Johnathan Grimes is trying to make his third year with the Texans the one that makes him a household name in Houston. Arriving in
2012 as an undrafted rookie, he has joined the Texans two different times late in the season and only given one true game to be an every day back where he
rushed 21 times for 73 yards and touchdown.
Now he is being utilized to his strengths and that is a pass catching running back who can do a little bit of everything.
Grimes said, “Like any opportunity I am going to work as hard and I can, the best I can. Then let the chips fall as they may.”
Grimes notices the difference for him arriving to camp this is a new year and it is a new opportunity. “Every year is definitely different. It is a brand
new team and brand new staff. It is all new, everyday is different.
The third year running back has been pushed by this offense and is asking him to be more than just a runner. His dynamic pass catching ability is
separating him from his main competition in Andre Brown.
“They are asking me to do a lot. I think I can do it and I think he (Bill O’Brien) understands me.”