WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

July 24, 2018 at 1:10 am.

–As the Texans’ training camp approaches, here’s a quick-hit look at some of their newcomers that arrived via free agency:

Cornerback Aaron Colvin. Colvin thrived as a nickel corner for the Jacksonville Jaguars working in tandem with Pro Bowl corners A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey. Colvin is eager to prove he can excel as an outside corner in a larger role with the Texans after signing a four-year, $34 million contract.

Safety Tyrann Mathieu. The feisty Honey Badger signed a one-year, $7.5 million prove-it deal. Mathieu parted ways with the Arizona Cardinals rather than accept a pay cut. The Texans want to use Mathieu primarily in a pure safety role after the Cardinals utilized him as a hybrid safety-corner-linebacker.

Tacker Seantrel Henderson. Henderson is a massive blocker who has a history of NFL drug suspensions. He’s a talented lineman who could solidify the right side as the replacement for tackle Breno Giacomini. Henderson looks like a big upgrade.

Guard Zach Fulton. Fulton signed a four-year, $28 million contract, and the Texans’ investment in the former Kansas City Chiefs starter is based on his size, toughness and versatility. He’s arguably the best healthy offensive lineman on the roster with center Nick Martin coming off ankle surgery.

Cornerback Johnson Bademosi. The Texans brought in the former New England Patriots special-teams ace to improve their kick coverage. Bademosi is athletic, tough and experienced.

Guard Senio Kelemete. The undersized Kelemete is expected to start after the team reached an injury settlement with Jeff Allen. Kelemete was praised by New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton for his intelligence and ability to line up at several different positions in a pinch.

–As the Texans’ training camp approaches, here’s a quick-hit look at a few members of the coaching staff:

Head coach Bill O’Brien. O’Brien doubles as the Texans’ offensive coordinator and is tasked with tailoring the offense to suit quarterback Deshaun Watson’s dual-threat capabilities. The team is coming off a 4-12 season and a last-place finish in the AFC South, but expectations are high and O’Brien is justifiably optimistic about the potential of a healthier roster

Quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan. Ryan remained with the Texans after interviewing for offensive coordinator jobs with the Cleveland Browns and the Minnesota Vikings after last season. Ryan is regarded as an ascending assistant coach who has a pivotal job as the position coach for star quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Offensive line coach Mike Devlin. Devlin is regularly praised by O’Brien. He has one of the toughest jobs on the coaching staff. Devlin has no Pro Bowl blockers to work with. He’s breaking in four new starters as the only returning starter is center Nick Martin, who’s coming off ankle surgery. Devlin is a sharp coach who always gets his guys to play hard.

Tight ends coach Tim Kelly. The Texans are still dealing with the retirement of starter C.J. Fiedorowicz due to chronic concussions. Kelly will go with Ryan Griffin as the starter, but rookie Jordan Akins is pushing for a big role.

Senior director of sports performance Luke Richesson. The former Denver Broncos strength coach is getting rave reviews from players for his exercise regimen, emphasis on nutrition and making strenuous workouts a lot of fun.

Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. Crennel is back at his familiar spot running the Texans’ defense after operating as assistant head coach and helping first-year defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel. With Vrabel now coaching the Tennessee Titans, Crennel takes over a defense that was ranked first in the NFL when he was calling the shots two seasons ago. Crennel has forgotten more about the 3-4 defense than most coaches ever learn. He’s an aggressive coach.

Secondary coach Anthony Midget. Midget got promoted when the Texans dismissed John Butler, who is now the Buffalo Bills’ secondary coach. Midget has a lot going on as the Texans brought in Tyrann Mathieu and Aaron Colvin and are dealing with starting safety Andre Hal being sidelined after being diagnosed with lymphoma. Midget has a quieter style than Butler.

–Entering his 13th NFL season, former Pro Bowl cornerback Johnathan Joseph is being counted on for much more than his coverage abilities.

The Texans re-signed the 34-year-old to a two-year, $10 million contract that included $3.9 million guaranteed partly because of his leadership and influence in the locker room.

New Texans secondary coach Anthony Midget is counting on Joseph to help him operate as a coach on the field.

“That’s who he is,” Midget said. “He’s great with the younger guys, he’s great with all his teammates in the classroom. He’s an extension of what I’m trying to get done. He does a good job of coaching the guys up and communicating with the guys the expectations we have for them.

“But just overall, he puts in the time studying the game, studying his opponents and he just passes that off to his teammates and holds them to that standard.”

A former Cincinnati Bengals first-round draft pick from South Carolina, Joseph has recorded 639 career tackles, 28 interceptions, seven forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries.

“He’s a pro’s pro,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said. “He’s a guy that has shown up every day since I’ve been here and put in the work and really been a very consistent player for us. I think that’s what’s given him the opportunity to last so long in the league. He’s got talent, but it’s so much more than talent.”

–Deshaun Watson is a special athlete who makes electrifying plays. Just watch his touchdown scramble last year against the Bengals or how he smoothly switched the football in his hands to avoid a pass rusher before launching a touchdown bomb.

Watson was on pace for 43 touchdowns passes as a rookie. Once he’s fully recovered, he doesn’t intend to change his style.

“A lot of people would think that I’d come back hesitant,” Watson said. “But I’m going to make sure I don’t and come back more forceful with a stronger and more intense attitude.”

Watson is backed up by Brandon Weeden, a classic pocket passer whose style is much less mobile and freewheeling. The third quarterback is versatile Joe Webb.

TOP THREE GOALS IN CAMP

–Get healthy, stay healthy. The Texans need defensive end J.J. Watt to return to his old NFL Defensive Player of the Year form. Once he’s fully back, the Texans need him to remain in that condition. The same goes for Pro Bowl pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney, who’s coming off arthroscopic knee surgery, quarterback Deshaun Watson, who tore his ACL as a rookie, and outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus, who missed most of last season with a torn pectoral.

–Get the defense back in gear. The Texans dipped to last in points allowed per game last season. Two years ago, the Texans had the top-ranked defense in the NFL. Now, they have Romeo Crennel back running that defense.

–Figure out the offensive line. The Texans could have as many as four new starters after Jeff Allen was removed from the roster with an injury settlement. Center Nick Martin is the lone returning starter. The other four spots are expected to go to left tackle Julie’n Davenport, left guard Senio Kelemete, right guard Zach Fulton and right tackle Seantrel Henderson.

TOP SUMMER BATTLE

–Free safety. After starter Andre Hal was diagnosed with lymphoma, the Texans’ secondary is facing some uncertainty. Although veteran corner Kareem Jackson was shifted over to safety, he faces competition for the starting job from rookie Justin Reid.