HOUSTON -- Offensive line is definitely one of the areas the Houston Texans still have major question marks at. One huge factor, of course, is the status of left tackle Duane Brown. Brown missed the Texans’ first week of voluntary OTAs, which is thought to be related to his contract. Brown has two years left on a six-year contract, but there is no more guaranteed money remaining on the deal. He is scheduled to make a base salary of $9.65 million in 2017 and $9.75 million the following season.
Right now, Brown cannot be fined for not showing up, because OTAs are voluntary, but he would be subject to fines if he does not report to veteran minicamp in two weeks. The Texans don’t typically negotiate contracts with two years remaining, but given the their lack of depth on the offensive line, he may have more leverage than normal.
It’s still too early to speculate whether Brown will really hold out until veteran minicamp, but I don’t see it getting to the start of the regular season. That being said, here’s my projected starting lineup for the Texans’ offensive line right now:
LT: Duane Brown
LG: Xavier Su’a-Filo
C: Nick Martin
RG: Jeff Allen
RT: Chris Clark
After the Texans put Derek Newton on injured reserve earlier in the month, the competition at right tackle is wide open right now, but I’ll give Clark -- who started in place of Brown and Newton in 2016 -- the edge right now. He’s competing with free-agent signing Breno Giacomini and Kendall Lamm. Lamm was practicing at right tackle during a portion of OTAs last week that was open to the media, while Clark was on the left side due to the absence of Brown.
At guard, Allen and Su’a-Filo are expected to retain their starting roles in 2017. Allen told reporters last week that he wasn’t satisfied with his performance last season, which was his first in Houston.
Martin, the Texans’ starting center, missed last season after injuring his ankle during a training camp joint practice with the New Orleans Saints. He said last week his ankle is “good to go.” Greg Mancz played well in place of Martin last season and could back up both guard positions in addition to center.