On the radar: Malcolm Sheppard

A player, coach or issue that should be on your radar as training camp approaches.

The Texans have been seeking consistent interior pass rush for some time. In 2005, they spent their first-round draft pick on Travis Johnson, who didn’t pan out and is gone. In 2007, they went with Amobi Okoye in the first round. Okoye still has upside, but he’s not been consistently productive.

Shaun Cody started with Okoye last year, and end Antonio Smith will continue to kick inside for clear-cut pass-rush situations. Third-round pick Earl Mitchell should solidify the rotation while Frank Okam and DelJuan Robinson continue to compete for roles.

But there could be an unexpected guy making a push for one of those roles: undrafted rookie Malcolm Sheppard from Arkansas.

“Probably the young kid who has surprised me the most through OTAs and everything has been this Sheppard kid that we got from Arkansas,” coach Gary Kubiak recently told Houston reporters. “I’m not trying to put pressure on him or anything, but he’s been a very pleasant surprise.

"I think he’s going to make a good push for this football team. He’s played extremely hard, very physical, [a] better athlete than we thought coming out. We thought he was going to get drafted but he didn’t. We were lucky to get him.”

There is room for Sheppard to win a spot and have an impact. He'll need to build upon the positive initial impression.