While the Houston Texans will be technically off for the next month, the blog will keep chugging along. I've saved some nuggets from the past few weeks and will have some thoughts on players to watch during training camp. Without pads on, there are certain positions that are hard to gauge, but more on that a bit later.
Thanks for your questions for this week's mailbag. I thought this would be a good way to wrap up the offseason.
@taniaganguli Was the QB competition close? Or was Fitzpatrick head and shoulders above the other three?
— Tom Vaughan (@tomvaughan) June 19, 2014
It was really interesting to watch day by day. One thing we had to consider while evaluating what we saw was that they were still learning a new playbook. I think that's the area in which Ryan Fitzpatrick had the biggest advantage. He's learned new systems before and there are only so many variations for an NFL offense. This staff dumped a huge amount of information on players, partly to see how they learned and what they'd retain. My feeling was the starting job was Fitzpatrick's to lose and he didn't do anything to lose it during the voluntary portion of this offseason.
— Ross Pollack (@Ross_Pollack) June 19, 2014
We aren't permitted to talk about specific reps, but Keshawn Martin, Mike Thomas, Alan Bonner and Kareem Jackson have all been part of that group, though I wouldn't expect Jackson to become a primary returner. This is one of those positions that really gets sorted out during the preseason games. Remember two years ago Trindon Holliday forced himself onto the roster with three return touchdowns in four games.
@taniaganguli does coach Obrien personally work with QBs?
— Coach McGuirk (@TexasMonte) June 19, 2014
He does. During practices, Bill O'Brien makes an effort to go around to various position groups and pull players aside for individual instruction. O'Brien really likes that personal teaching. He didn't stop when he became a head coach at Penn State and he hasn't stopped at the NFL level. I asked him once if that was a difficult balance to keep, and he said it's not as long as you stay organized.
@taniaganguli baring injury, does Savage start any games this yr, if so how many?
— GILES LAMONT (@GilesGman) June 19, 2014
I could definitely see him starting games if there were an injury to Fitzpatrick. Barring injury, though, that will depend a lot on what Fitzpatrick can do for the Texans. He is a fairly known quantity given how long his career has been. But at 31 there's still room for growth. The biggest issue will be ball security, something that's been a problem for Fitzpatrick. Back to your original question, though, if he can protect the ball better and if things go better around him than they did for Matt Schaub, I can see Fitzpatrick staving off the rookie.
Tom Savage is clearly raw, but also clearly very talented. His arm strength might be the best of any quarterback the Texans have or have had on the roster this season. He's also a willing student who acknowledged since the moment he got drafted that he has a lot to learn. You wonder where his development would be now if he was at one college for the past four seasons. I could see Savage putting himself in a position to earn starts by November. But if Fitzpatrick is doing well enough, the Texans won't need to rush him.
@taniaganguli how has Brooks Reed been looking at inside backer?
— Austin Lantz (@AustinLantz10) June 20, 2014
It's all Brooks Reed has been doing on the field, and something he did during games last season in specific packages. Reed's skills are better used outside on a regular basis, but he's done well working inside this summer. Getting reps inside for Reed is becoming a yearly tradition lately. I think there's still a good chance he stays outside this year.