With all of the problems with the Houston Texans have had in their wide receiver hunt over the past few years, it is beginning to sound like there may be some good news on the horizon for a change.
It’s still very early, and it’s just camp, but even if camp is meaningless, you can still learn some things right away. And what we are learning is that rookie wide receiver Keshawn Martin is making the most of his opportunity.
When Jacoby Jones was given his walking papers, the team created an immediate opening on special teams for a punt returner. It just so happens that Martin was quite the electric return man while being the two year starter at Michigan State. Besides returning the ball, Martin scored 17 touchdowns in five separate ways; rushing, receiving, passing, punt return and kick return.
With Houston never having a real, bonafide slot receiver that anyone clearly recalls, this is a golden opportunity for Martin to see significant time as a rookie. Gary Kubiak has his shortcomings, but finding ways to create mismatches on the offensive side of the ball isn’t one of them.
A speedster with a knack for getting open underneath, that could be another sick weapon for returning quarterback Matt Schaub to have as a safety valve when no one is getting open. However, it isn’t a sure thing that Martin will see the field a lot in 2012, outside of special teams.
The zone blocking scheme that Houston employs calls for its wide receivers to blcok down field quite a bit and that is certainly a con against Martin on his scouting report. Thankfully, for him, Kubiak loves how well Kevin Walter does this opposite Andre Johnson and it could open a space for Martin to simply get open on the slant and wreak havoc.
The other rookie receiver Houston drafted, DeVier Posey, is having a decent camp as well and the team is raving about his work ethic. But he has an uphill climb to make before he sees time on the field, whereas Martin can slip right into the slot on certain situations.
To expect a lot out of a 5’11″ slot receiver that weighs only 190 pounds is just setting yourself up for disappointment. But for a team like Houston, which has no problems moving the ball usually, it’s a hell of a wild card to have at your disposal. The murmurs out of camp are that Kubiak is going to try some new things and add some wrinkles to the offense this year. He showed in 2011 that he isn’t afraid to try some new things before James Casey got injured early in the season.
This offense is all about what receivers do after the catch, and that is something Martin excelled at while a Spartan. Out of his 776 receiving yards as a senior last year, 445 came after the reception. He was no stranger to the big play either, with 59 of them going for 20 or more yards and 17 for 40 or more. That sounds like just what Houston has been lacking in a slot guy that Jacoby Jones was never going to amount to.
With Andre Johnson being put in bubble wrap until the regular season and Kevin Walter currently sitting at a 0% chance of losing the #2 job, expect to see a lot of Martin and Posey this weekend when Houston faces Carolina to kick off the 2012 preseason. It should be a fun battle, but right now even Lestar Jean is being whispered to be ahead of Posey on the depth chart.
I would be shocked to see Martin penciled in as a starter come opening day against the Dolphins. But I won’t be shocked at all to see him getting double digits in his play count either.