This coming weekend, the Houston Texans will open their on-the-field work with their annual rookie minicamp, the fourth under head coach Bill O’Brien. O’Brien uses the upcoming four-day window with the rookies to submerge them into the “Texans Way” to which players currently in the locker room are already accustomed.
With rookies flying into Houston on Thursday, O’Brien and his staff use the time with them to teach them how to be professionals as well as beginning to install all three phases of the game that the Texans use for the season. Coaches teach verbiage and review film from the practices, correcting mistakes. It is literally a crash course for the 45+ rookies who will be in Houston for the three-day work period, building the foundation for their next step into OTAs.
Houston has been known to produce some notable names as rookie free agents most notably Arian Foster and A.J. Bouye, both of whom developed into top end players in the league at their respective positions. The Texans continue to use this time to find talent not only from their drafted rookies but their rookie free agents.
“We’ve had some success in that part of the process in terms of signing players that have come in and contributed to our football team,” Rick Smith said of the rookie free agents coming to Houston. “It’s how you round your roster out, so it’s a very important part of the process.”
“This group that we have coming in – and we have guys that will be in next weekend that we did not sign to contracts," Smith said of the rookie group coming to Houston for the mini-camp.
Coach Bill O’Brien knows there is work to be done with these rookies who are headed to the facility.
“There’s a lot of work to be done with these guys but we have about 45-plus guys coming in, so some of it is evaluation,” O’Brien explained of the upcoming mini-camp. “We’ve had a number of guys over the years since we’ve been here that have been on our 53, that were undrafted (or) tryout guys. Then some of it is installation and how much we can get in with these guys. It’s a fairly long weekend for them.”
Free Agent Rookies Signed by the Texans Currently on the Roster
|Kendall Lamm||Appalachian State||Since winning a roster spot coming out of the 2015 camp, Lamm has appeared in 30 games for the Texans.|
|Brennan Scarlett||Stanford||Looks to be the ideal replacment for John Simon, but has to stay healthy. Appeared in 7 games in 2016.|
|Max Bullough||Michigan State||Played in 30 games since arriving in 2014, player in 16 games last season totaling 25 tackles.|
|Greg Mancz||Toledo||Injured when he arrived with a shoulder issue, Mancz overcame a knee injury to start all 16 games at center in 2016.|
|Kurtis Drummond||Michigan State||Won a roster spot on the 2015 roster and appeared in 9 games mainly on special teams. His 2016 season was cut short with a knee injury.|
|Corey Moore||Georgia||The only known player currently with the Texans to turn a tryout to contract and end up on the 53 man roster. Started for the Texans in 2016 at safety.|
|Joel Heath||Michigan State||An unknown name prior to the 2016 season, Heath locked down a roster spot and started late in the season for the defense at defensive end.|
|Ufomba Kamalu||Miami||Another edge player the Texans used standing up and with his hand in the dirt. Was in the defensive line rotation in the last quarter of the 2016 season.|
|Stephen Anderson||California||The prized player of the Texans rookie free agent class in 2016. Anderson won the 3rd tight end spot and caught 11 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown.|
|Wendall Williams||Cumberlands||The speedster from Cumberlands was originally cut prior to the season but brough back late in the season. Caught 4 passes for 75 yards in 2016.|
|Eddie Pleasant||Oregon||One of the longest tenured Texans on the current roster, Pleasant arrived prior to the 2012 season and appeared in 62 games over that stretch.|
|Jon Weeks||Baylor||Weeks has turned himself into one of the top long snappers in the league.|
Under O’Brien, the Texans have had rookie free agents win roster spots when the 53-man roster was set. Currently on the roster, rookie free agents like Jonathan Weeks Kendall Lamm, Brennan Scarlett, Joel Heath, Max Bullough, Greg Mancz, Kurtis Drummond, Corey Moore, Eddie Pleasant Wendall Williams Stephen Anderson and Ufomba Kamalu have all appeared in NFL games, while past rookie free agents like Ka’imi Fairbairn, Shakeel Rashad, and Eric Lee will be in the discussion to lock down roster spots this upcoming season.
All the rookies under O’Brien have a right of passage: blue lockers in the middle of the locker room until the regular season starts. Even past big name rookies have shared lockers and it is a reminder that rookies have to earn their keep when they arrive to Houston. Deshaun Watson will have a blue locker just like Jadeveon Clowney, Kevin Johnson, and Will Fuller had as rookies when they were drafted.
“They’re in the blue lockers just like every other rookie, and I think the big thing for us is – and we’ve proven this as a staff,” O’Brien begins, “I mean, I don’t think there is any question that we’ve proven our ability to develop players here and give these guys the opportunity to come in here and show us what they can do and then reward them with playing time down the road if they show us that they can help us.”
The football season is arriving as the rookies open up this coming weekend with the first football practices as a team for the season.
Rookie mini-camp runs from May 12-14th.
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