With organized team activities starting last week, and the Houston Texans getting their first look at their new additions in the receiving game for the first time, a familiar concern has already popped up in regards to depth after Andre Johnson.
With the news coming down that Johnson is to miss all of OTA’s after having his knee scoped and undergoing arthroscopic surgery a couple of weeks back, there is obviously cause for concern.
After missing nine games last year and finishing with just 33 catches for 492 yards, his lowest totals since joining the league in 2003, this is expected to be a concern. Since last offseason, Johnson has had knee surgery, ankle surgery and hamstring surgery. It happens to all of the greats around this point in their career.
So the news that the Texans would be working out free agent wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker today came as no big surprise, regardless of the reassurances from Andre Johnson that the surgery is “nothing to panic about.”
Sims-Walker, who has been on the Texans radar in the past appears to be a good fit for the scheme in Houston. The question is what version of the Central Florida product he currently is.
After a stellar 2009 season that saw him become the Jaguars’ leader in receptions (63) and receiving yards (869), he really fell off after that. Last season, after signing with the St. Louis Rams, he was released and hooked on with the Jaguars for a second tour of duty. He had just 12 catches in 2011 in six games.
At just 27 years old, it seems to be premature to say he has nothing left in the tank. He has had some work done to repair his knees and that is always a red flag on a player with the route-running style Sims-Walker exudes. So to ask if he has a shot at the final roster may be getting ahead of myself. But here is why I think the Texans will offer him a deal to come in and make the team, and why I think the chances are quite high.
First of all, this team has either lackluster or inexperienced depth at the position. Going to war in a season where championship expectations are being handed out with a pair of mid-round rookies in Devier Posey and Keshawn Martin, an average talent like Kevin Walter and someone who was an undrafted free agent behind Andre Johnson may not be the best contingency plan.
Everyone knew that the team would bring in a veteran to compete for a roster spot and, if healthy, Sims-Walker could be that guy.
With the story breaking about an hour ago that the highly rated undrafted prospect out of North Carolina, Dwight Jones, has up and “quit” the team, it certainly appears that this is a golden opportunity for Sims-Walker to make his comeback.
With a stout defense and a juiced running game, this is the kind of offense that makes average receivers good. A guy like Sims-Walker could excel in it and I think he will do enough in camp to get the nod. But, like all things for a receiver at this point in his career, it all depends on health.
If he’s healthy and in game shape, I expect to see Mike Sims-Walker wearing a Texans uniform in week 1 of the 2012 season.