A closer look at Houston WRs not named Andre Johnson

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

HOUSTON -- Texans fans feed my mailbag more than anyone else, and one of their constant questions is about the wide receivers beyond Andre Johnson.

Players weren't even in helmets at Thursday morning's practice, so it was tough to get a real gauge on anyone.

But I spent some time after the session with Larry Kirksey, the veteran wide receivers coach. He's in Year 2 with the Texans, but his 12th year in the league and he's coached Jerry Rice, Jimmy Smith and Terrell Owens.

We went player-by-player and I forced him to offer each guy's downside or weakness at the end -- I've broken those off into a "something less than positive" category.

We went in pecking order, which matches the team's depth chart.

On Kevin Walter: "Kevin had his best year as a pro last year and he's come back a little bit stronger, a little bit faster than he was a year ago. The thing about Kevin is he's a dependable receiver. He's a tough guy, he'll do all the dirty work for you. He wants to take every snap, he wants it bad. To me he's the epitome of a guy who wants to win. I've been very pleased with Kevin. I just think he's a football player." (Walter starts outside, moves into the slot in three-wide with Andre Davis coming on as the third WR).

Something less than positive: "He has good speed, he has size, he has playing strength. Probably it's separation from man-to-man. Because of his body type, he can use his body to separate. I'd say that, but at the same time he hasn't lost many battles out here."

On Andre Davis: "He had a great year last year for us, considering he's bounced around a little bit. He's still playing with speed. I think he has a little more finesse now, a little more knowledge of the offense and knows what is expected of him. His route-running skills have improved. I would say that's been the key for him so far. He's really improved his overall game, route-running, pass receiving, and he's always had speed."

Something less than positive: "I just hope he can stay healthy and continue to play the way he did a year ago. If so, he'll have another great year for us."

On Jacoby Jones: "He has a lot of talent. He needs to play smarter. I think he understands the game, and sometimes because of his speed and quickness, he thinks that can get him by. Well that's not the case. I think when he learns how to use his speed and quickness with the mental aspect of the game he can really get it going on."

Something less than positive: "It's just learning the game for him overall. He's still a young receiver. He got injured last year and didn't play a lot. He's back now so we'll see what happens."

On David Anderson: "He has really improved as far as the slot play is concerned. I just think he's so nifty in there and he has a great feel for the game. He's been the solid guy in the slot, he and Kevin, but they all need to be able to work inside."

Something less than positive: "He's not a very big guy or tall guy, but at the same time he has a knack for making plays."

On Tim Carter: "He's in the mix. The thing he brings to the table is speed, of course. He plays fast. We just got him here late in the OTAs. He's shown signs, shown flashes that he can make some plays. We've still got to get him into the preseason and see how it goes."

Something less than positive: "His familiarity with the system, probably."

The Texans finished last season with five receivers on their roster, and Kirksey said that while it's not up to him he expects it will probably be five again.

He also talked with me briefly about the other receivers at camp.

Harry Williams: "A big, physical receiver who's been a special teams player around here for us. That's his playing strength."

Darnell Jenkins: "A young kid from Miami who's got playing speed. He's just got to catch up with the system."

LeRon McCoy: "I think LeRon's probably got the strongest hands out there and he's a big body type. He's made some plays and picked up the offense fairly well."

Mark Simmons: "A nifty player, but at the same time he's got to get involved in the system and be able to understand it."