- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Texans open training camp tomorrow. Here are four primary storylines we will be monitoring.
Matt Schaub’s return: The perception is he gets hurt a lot. I thought he got past it with complete 2009 and 2010 seasons, but bad luck knocked him out with a serious foot injury last season. Critics wonder if he’s clutch. We do need to see him in situations with a lot at stake. It’s a contract year. It’s a good team. The table is set for him to excel. The spotlight will shine on his play brighter than ever before.
Potential extensions: Schaub’s not the only guy unsigned beyond this year. Outside linebacker Connor Barwin and left tackle Duane Brown are not far from free agency. Progress toward an extension for someone won’t unfold on the field. But if GM Rick Smith can get one deal done before the regular season kicks off, the tension over potential losses would ease considerably.
Offensive line development: Right tackle Eric Winston was cut to save money. Right guard Mike Brisiel left for a big contract in Oakland. The team is confident it’s got quality replacements in Antoine Caldwell (who will be challenged by rookie Brandon Brooks) and Rashad Butler (who will be challenged by Derek Newton). But cohesion on the offensive line was a big key to last year’s success. Can they reformulate that?
Receiver battles: If Andre Johnson stays healthy, the Texans have as good a No. 1 as virtually anyone. Kevin Walter is not explosive, but he is reliable. Beyond that, the team is sorting through a group of kids with DeVier Posey, Keshawn Martin and Lestar Jean. Gary Kubiak can find ways to use them all if they show areas where they can excel. Veteran Bryant Johnson was recently added back into the mix.