- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Houston’s young receivers will be a storyline throughout the preseason. The spots on the depth chart after starters Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter are up for grabs, and with Johnson out at least a week with a groin injury, guys are getting significant opportunity.
Coach Gary Kubiak told Houston reporters Monday that he will shift people around with the opportunity to move up, giving Lestar Jean, DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin chances to be with the first team. Kubiak also liked what he saw from Jerrell Jackson today.
“I think our whole team is kind of watching it too, because they know our identity is going to change at that position for the first time in a while around here,” Kubiak said. “Players sense that, they really watch those battles closely. We’ll let them prove to their teammates that they’re the guy.”
Somebody new is going to get playing time.
In such situations I always wonder about coaching philosophy. Some coaches don’t like to use a receiver unless he knows at least one of the three positions inside-out. Others will send a player on the field if he’s able to effectively run one play.
Back during organized team activities I asked Kubiak his thinking on that.
“I want guys to know all the spots, that’s important to me, but at the same time if I get a young talent that it’s taking him time to get there, then I’ve got to be smart in how I use him to get him a chance to help the team,” Kubiak said. “We’re going to throw everything at everybody we’ve got and find out what they can handle. I don’t think there is such a thing as overload in football. I learned from George Seifert, it’s your job to do what they can do. That’s what I’ve got to figure out between now and the fall.
“I want to see how much a guy can handle and the only way I can find that out is to challenge him every day.”
Quarterback Matt Schaub said it’s a difficult position to get a handle on in the Houston offense and made it sound as if the young wideouts are swimming at times.
“Obviously, there are going to be growing pains as we go through practices here mentally, just working through everything,” he said. “We ask our receivers to do a lot of adjustments with their routes and we do a lot of motioning and a lot of formation adjustments. It’s a lot for them, but they’re doing a great job handling it.”
The guy who does the best sorting through things could wind up the one with the easiest route into the huddle, whether he's the best route runner or pass-catcher of the bunch or not.