AFC South: Derrell Smith

Some wrapup thoughts from my visit to the Texans during their most recent three days of OTAs:

The confidence level of the defense is at an all-time high, and understandably so. These guys are young and hungry and well coached. I don’t believe any of them will be content to rest on their laurels from last year, and they’d hate to be seen as a one-year wonder. That doesn’t guarantee anything beyond top-flight effort, of course.

While Rashad Butler and Antoine Caldwell are at the front of the line to replace departed right tackle Eric Winston and right guard Mike Brisiel, don’t lock them in. I don’t think we’ll see two guys with no starting experience in the lineup, but I won’t be surprised if tackle Derek Newton or rookie guard Brandon Brooks fight his way into the lineup.

I wrap all talk of emerging receivers at this time of the year in a huge, cautionary flag. No position is in better position to look good in OTA and minicamp settings that wide receiver. In that context, Lestar Jean and Keshawn Martin are generating more buzz for the Texans right now than DeVier Posey is.

Nickelback Brice McCain is an underrated player who is coming on and looked to be the crispest of all the defensive backs in some settings. He’s got a huge up arrow on him. Also among defensive backs, undrafted rookie safety Eddie Pleasant from Oregon looks like a guy to keep an eye on.

We’ll hit on this more later, but the Texans should bail on the idea of a fullback. James Casey is really an H-back type. Use him that way. Derrell Smith’s been moved from linebacker to fullback and is worth rooting for. But this team has far too much proven offensive talent to put someone like Smith on the field for anything beyond a short-yardage situation. And that’s too small a role to carve out on a Sunday 46-man roster.

I see no reason to doubt that Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson will be ready to go for training camp as they come off of foot and knee injuries, respectively.

The versatile Connor Barwin recently wrote a concert review for the Houston Press. Check it out here.

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