Oh, what having limited cap space can do to a team.
When the Texans released Jacoby Jones a couple of months ago, fans in Houston rejoiced. Many, because of his comedy of errors in the team’s playoff game in Baltimore. But for others, such as myself, because we had been hearing about Jones’ “potential” for five seasons. After the fourth, it was pretty clear he was never going to grasp that potential and it was past time for him to go.
With that saga now in the books, Houston is left with Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter and exactly zero other wide receivers who have ever caught a pass at the NFL level. This is why many experts suggested that they’d take a look at Braylon Edwards or Randy Moss earlier in the offseason. Well, neither of those guys got a phone call…but Roy Williams did.
When I first heard about this, I scoffed. If Mike Sims-Walker tried out and couldn’t make the team, there’s no way Williams will, right?
With training camp starting in less than 48 hours from now, I could see Houston giving him the vet minimum to stick around and have a shot at the team and I’ll explain why.
By now, most of us know the story on the former 1st round pick, taken seventh overall by Detroit in 2004. Loads of talent coming out of the University of Texas, but never quite reaching his potential in the Motor City. Even after a breakout season in 2006 that led to his lone pro bowl appearance, Williams has never been more than a possession receiver since.
However, many blamed the black hole that was the Lions franchise for his shortcomings and Dallas bought into that hype and actually traded a future first round selection for his rights. Needless to say, that ended up a disaster as he concluded two and a half years with the Cowboys netting a total of less than 1,400 yards receiving in 40 games played.
Many thought he was done, but Chicago took a flier on Williams and he stuck around for the entirety of the 2011 season that saw him finish with a mediocre 37 receptions for 507 total yards. And, once again, many predicted he would ride off into the sunset after the Bears decided against bringing him back.
This brings us to his tryout today with the Texans. Houston is a team with very few holes on their roster, but their depth at wide receiver is very shaky. It all rests upon the health of Andre Johnson, who has missed 12 games the past two years with lingering injuries. This is a common occurrence to a player at his position once they reach their thirties and there is a lot of mileage on those legs. The team will be okay if he can stay on the field, but if Johnson suffers multiple setbacks like he did last year, Houston could be in trouble.
Kevin Walter is never going to be a guy anyone fears and there were multiple game tapes I watched last year that saw him left completely wide open for a good number of snaps. In fact, many Texans fans argue that he shouldn’t even be the teams number two. And after him? It’s all rookies.
Undrafted, out of Florida Atlantic, Lestar Jean opened some eyes in preseason last year before being placed on the injured reserve. Coaches speak highly of him and many think he has an inside track at getting some snaps in 2012, but he still has a ways to go. Surely he has a step up on everyone else due to knowledge of the system, but to crown him at this point (like many Texans fans already are) would be premature.
Rookie DeVier Posey is somewhat of a wild card, in my opinion. Some have speculated that he hasn’t looked good in OTA’s or what not, but I’m ready to give him a longer leash than that after the team spent a third round pick on him. He showed the talent at Ohio State, but there remain many concerns about his maturity. Still, he’s a rookie and has an uphill climb ahead of him.
The other rookie, Keshawn Martin, will likely see the field in a good chunk of 2012. He seems like the ideal replacement for Jacoby Jones on special teams and looks to be that firecracker in the slot that can make some big plays. But, like the other guys, he has zero experience at this level. Which is why I think Roy Williams has a chance to be invited to training camp with a shot at the final roster.
It may not be the veteran presence the team was looking for, but when you’re in cap hell like the Texans are rumored to be, you have to pick from the scrap heap. If he comes in and is a big knucklehead like he has been in the past, Gary Kubiak will say thanks, but no thanks and there will be no big loss. But if Williams realizes that this could be his last shot in the league, he’s got a hell of a chance to make this roster due to inexperience ahead of him.
While I still think Williams is a slow, very poor route runner and an incredibly selfish football player, but who else does Houston have that you’re worried about him stealing snaps from? A bunch of unproven guys?
Even if you’re okay with going young, we all know by now that a guy like Gary Kubiak isn’t.