State of the Texans spent the week at Super Bowl 51 and worked to find out as much information, thoughts and analysis on the Houston Texans. Discussions with some of the prominent people in the NFL we put together 51 things we learned about the Texans from the busy week in Houston. -pds
The Houston Texans are moving training camp to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, at The Greenbrier (not officially confirmed by the team). The New Orleans Saints helped develop the football facilities at the Greenbrier and now the Texans take their turn to have camp at the idyllic location. The word is that Bill O’Brien wants his team to get going much earlier as a cohesive unit than in the prior three seasons; he wants them isolated and focused on developing a team mentality. Also there is some thought that O’Brien wants to limit exposure to the team by moving camp away from Houston. The distance will cut the size of the local media group, but with the focus needed for a make or break season for O’Brien, less distractions are going to be welcomed. The organization has been exploring this potential move for a few seasons, citing heat and humidity being an issue for their players and the move to West Virginia would cut that concern down.
The players thoughts are mixed on the camp being moved to West Virginia and rightfully so since camp has been held in Houston since 2002. Part of the reason the Texans have wanted to keep camp in Houston is due to the close proximity of the facilities for the Texans with NRG, the Methodist Training Center, and the team hotel all within blocks of each other. Now, with change looming, early thoughts are on both sides of the fence, some are excited for the change while others are not too pleased with the move. Either way, the fans will lose out in the situation, with the Texans leaving the area and preventing fans from attending open dates for practices.
Word is that the New Orleans Saints are working to bring the Texans in to have joint practices during training camp. The practices would be in New Orleans and this would be a trade-off for the Saints, also spending a day in Houston to have a joint practice prior to their preseason game. The Saints and Texans have an open partnership during the off-season and try to use each other to get early work in by looking at opposing teams.
ESPN’s John Clayton sat down with us at radio row and suspected that soon-to-be free agent, A.J. Bouye’s price tag on the open market will be at minimum at $12 to $12.5 million mark per year. There is plenty of talk that Bouye is not only the top cornerback to possibly available but one of the top three free agents in this year’s class. Bouye’s name has already been mentioned by teams this week at the Super Bowl and those talks will get louder as the off-season progresses.
Sources monitoring the Bouye market feel that Kevin Johnson’s emergence has an influence on the Texans choice to retain Bouye or not. Some feel that Johnson has a higher ceiling that Bouye but sources close StateoftheTexans.com feel that the Texans are interested in keeping all four cornerbacks together for the near future.
DeAndre Hopkins is moving into his 5th year and, with some sticky contract issues prior to the start of the 2016 season, Hopkins is going to have to respond this coming season with a strong performance. The Texans are trying to get the numbers together to extend Hopkins and keep him in Houston but his contract numbers are going to have to fall in the top 10 range of wide receiver contracts. Most feel that Hopkins' downward turn this season was all about Brock Osweiler’s struggles and he is worth a top 10 contract when he finally gets a deal.
Jadeveon Clowney is focused on working on his pass rush moves this coming off-season. Last offseason, he worked with Jay Glazer in California to develop his hand game and it made a difference on the field. Praise for Clowney and how much he wanted to learn about the game, carrying that onto the field. Clowney always had the knack since arriving to the Texans, being very aware of the game, but it really took off this season.
Clowney also learned to play hurt and understood how to be a professional. Most feel that he has grown up and made sure he has done everything in his power to stay healthy. It started during his rookie season behind the scenes with coaches.
Many feel the absence of J.J. Watt helped Clowney be the player he was in 2016. The situation in dealing with Watt’s injury forced the Texans to develop a defense that featured Clowney and Whitney Mercilus. Early success helped Clowney gain confidence. The defense learned it could survive without Watt and Clowney’s emergence was directly reflected by being the linchpin in the Texans defense, back with his hand in the dirt and on the edge.
Nick Novak is a free agent and the Texans intend to bring him back to compete with Ka'imi Fairbairn for the kicking duties in 2017. The Texans are high on Fairbairn, who has already changed his body by gaining close to 15 pounds of muscle for the upcoming season. The concern with Novak is his lack of leg strength, which really shows on kickoffs, but the consistency he brings to the field goal part of special teams is a plus that the Texans like.
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