- Tania Ganguli, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Bill O'Brien regime has begun its transformation of the Texans, but there's still a lot we don't know about them.
After organized team activities (OTAs), here are my top five remaining questions about the team. Feel free to chime in with your own.
1. Will Ryan Fitzpatrick throw fewer interceptions? We're going a little broken record here that turnovers have been an issue for him throughout his career. There is a huge difference between protecting the ball in practice and protecting the ball during games, so this is a question for which we won't truly get an answer until games begin.
2. Who will back up Arian Foster? The Texans currently have Dennis Johnson and Jonathan Grimes returning from last year's squad, plus free-agency pickup Andre Brown and draft pick Alfred Blue. I think this will come down to Brown and Blue. Brown has an edge on starting experience. Blue has an edge on youth and lack of mileage. Evaluating the status of the running game requires seeing the backs and the linemen blocking for them in pads.
3. Who will start at inside linebacker next to Brian Cushing? Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel was asked if he now sees Brooks Reed as an inside linebacker and he said no. Crennel insisted Reed was simply learning inside linebacker to increase his versatility. Reed is one option to start next to Cushing. Akeem Dent, for whom the Texans traded quarterback T.J. Yates with the Falcons, is another option.
4. Who will return punts and kicks? It's my view that special teams aren't a full third of the game, as is sometimes extolled, but they can give a team a boost in the right circumstances. For the past couple of seasons, the Texans' special teams haven't been great. That led to former special-teams coordinator Joe Marciano's firing during the season. He was the only assistant who lost his job before the season was up. The team's search for a returner or returners has included several players who are challenging incumbent Keshawn Martin.
5. Will Foster and Cushing stay healthy this season? In May CSN Houston's Twitter account asked Texans fans how confident they were Cushing would play in all 16 games. They weren't banking on Cushing's own reply of "pretty damn confident." His presence is a stabilizing force on the Texans defense. They've historically been better with him than without him. His injuries in the past two seasons were not related to each other, so there's no reason to think he won't stay healthy this season. As for Foster, his absence last season was a big reason why the Texans' offense struggled so much. I have more concerns about Foster's health than Cushing's, as I addressed in yesterday's reasons for pessimism.