At Houston Texans OTA last week, the team fielded seven receivers at practice which have no career NFL receptions between them, a weakness which could create some issues for the team this season as the Texans embark on the defense of their franchise first AFC South division title. Houston has two 10-year veteran receivers on the roster but outside of Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter, how will the Texans receiving corps look when the regular season rolls around?
Appearing on NFL Sirius radio on Sunday, Houston beat writer John McClain spoke about the current state of the Texans receivers and offered up his insight. He believes the team will start the season with five receivers on the roster. Five year veteran WR Jacoby Jones is gone, joining the Baltimore Ravens this offseason. Barring the late signing of a veteran, the Texans will start the season with a very youthful receiving corps.
On May 30, the Texans worked out free agent WR Mike Sims-Walker. Sims-Walker has played four seasons for the Jacksonville Jaguars with his best season coming in 2009 with 63 receptions for 869 yards and seven scores. The Jacksonville quarterback play has been suspect over recent years, a factor which should be taken into account when evaluating Sims-Walker.
Houston has some interesting options in their crop of young pass catchers. 2011 undrafted free agent Lestar Jean out of Florida Atlantic is a physical receiver who was unable to make the roster last season after suffering a shoulder injury early on. He possess Andre Johnson size, coming in at 6’3″ 218.
In the second round of this year’s draft, Houston selected Ohio State DeVier Posey out of Ohio State. A four-year player for the Buckeyes, Posey recorded 18 touchdowns and 1,955 career yards. Second round picks rarely get cut so unless he absolutely bombs in training camp, expect Posey to make the final 53-man roster.
In the fourth-round, Houston selected Keshawn Martin from Michigan State. I fully expect Martin to make the Texans roster based on his return abilities. Martin, a two year starter for the Spartans shows exceptional quickness and will likely become a talented slot receiver for the Texans.
As it stands right now, if McClain is correct in his assessment that the Texans will carry just five receivers, I see the roster shaping up as Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, Lestar Jean, DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin. However, I could see the Texans carrying six receivers. Veteran Andre Johnson has only appeared in 20 of the last 32 games and while he is a formidable receiver, he will turn 31 in July. Houston needs to add another veteran and that veteran might very well be Mike Sims-Walker.
The current Texans receiving situation is not as dire as some would believe. Last season, after Andre Johnson went down with injury, QB Matt Schaub and the Texans still averaged over 27 points per game before Schaub went down with an injury. This is a run centric offensive team featuring a fantastic tandem of Arian Foster and Ben Tate eating up the yards on the ground. Gary Kubiak’s offense gets the ball in the hands of the running backs through the air as well with Foster recording 119 receptions in the last two seasons. Look for Foster and TE Owen Daniels to get 60 receptions each in 2012 with Andre Johnson contributing at least 80 if he remains healthy. If Kevin Walter contributes 50 receptions in 2012 while the youthful Texans receivers add another 50 in the number three position, this team should be just fine.
The strength of the Texans rests on the shoulders of their defense and they should be just as dominant in 2012 as they were in 2011 when they finished with the second ranked defensive squad.