When the Houston Texans picked up LSU return specialist Trindon Holliday in the tail end of the 2010 NFL Draft, many chuckled, yours truly included. Sure, there have been small guys to play in this league, but at just 5’5″, no one thought this kid had much of a chance other than to be training camp amusement.
With the way his pro career started, it seemed those claims were validated, as he fumbled the first kickoff made to him in the 2010 preseason against the Saints. This was quickly followed up by a season long visit to the injured reserve with a thumb fracture and many speculated his NFL career was done.
In 2011, he was cut and then stashed on the Texans practice squad for the entire season. He did get a call up one week, but never got into the game and was only a spectator. Many didn’t even expect him to get a camp invite this year, but Gary Kubiak not only let him in, he is giving him every chance to win a job. And thus far, Holliday is making it very hard for the coaching staff to keep him off the final 53 man roster.
In the Texans preseason opener, Holliday accounted for 182 yards in the return game, including a 90 yard touchdown return that put the Texans up for good. The following week, 167 yards including an 87 yard punt return for a score that put the game away late in the 4th.
Now, I’m no “preseason knee-jerker” or anything like that, but even as one of Holliday’s toughest critics, even I’ve started to come around on the idea of carrying Holliday as the team’s sixth wide receiver and kick/punt returner.
Of course, he wouldn’t actually see any snaps at the wide receiver position, but how often does a sixth wide receiver ever see snaps? If that’s happening at a consistent level, well then the season is going much worse than originally thought anyhow.
Even before game number two was over, I was talking with Patrick from State of the Texans, who co-hosts the Texans “Luv Ya Steel Blue” podcasts with me, and I was still contesting that keeping a guy just as a specialist was a luxury this team couldn’t afford. While he is still pretty much standing his ground on that fact, I’ve started to come around.
Texans starting safety Danieal Manning is a very good kick returner, but after losing him last year with an injury, I could see the team not wanting to put him in that position again. Same with rookie Keshawn Martin, who would most likely handle punt returns.
It really comes down to if the team would rather carry that tenth linebacker or eighth defensive back, etc. But I see no reason why the team would have Holliday handling all of the return game in the preseason if he has zero shot at making the club, regardless of his showing. Because the little guy is making his case to be quite an electric return man, despite his being vertically challenged.
Trindon Holliday is the underdog type everyone loves to root for and unless he really lays an egg or three in the final two preseason games, I don’t see how Rick Smith and Gary Kubiak can keep him off of the final 53 at the moment.