Brett Helms, C – An undrafted free agent last year, Helms spent 2009 on the team’s practice squad. I expect the same this year unless the team falls in love with one of their new undrafted free agents.
Chris Myers, C – Now that Travis Johnson has taken the lazy train to San Diego, Myers has filled the void left by TJ as the resident Texans’ whipping boy. We’ve all seen this video, unfortunately. That’s obviously an extreme example, but it speaks to Myers’ biggest problems – handling (or even remotely holding his ground to) the big 3-4 NTs. Of course, many centers in the league have the same problem, but if you’re a loyal Texans fan and follower, you know that Myers has been getting drilled at the point of attack for two seasons now. The awful running game in 2009 was the result of a team meltdown, not just one guy – but I think we’d all be happy with an upgrade at this position.
Antoine Caldwell, C/G – The “C” in “C/G” is hanging by a thread. When Caldwell was drafted, I think we ALL had visions of him being a good bet to take over the center spot in his second season. It seems though, through several reports from media members and those close to the team, that the Texans now see Caldwell purely as a guard. As long as the guy is turning into a full-time starter, then I’m good with that – but I’m not going to give up ALL hope yet that he might make a big turn in his 2nd year and get a look at the center job.
Wade Smith, C/G – Smith signed a free agent deal this offseason, and the numbers certainly suggest that he should be in line for a starting job… but he wasn’t promised anything. He can play center or guard, so I’m sure the hope for most of us is that he can outplay either Chris Myers or Kasey Studdard in camp, or step in for Mike Brisiel if he doesn’t get back to 100% after his injury.
Chris White, C/G – Catfish was an average backup and spot-starter (one start against New England) last season, but his versatility might save him. That said, how many guys do you need that can play center and guard?
Mike Brisiel, G – Brisiel’s injury last year was brutal, and there are real concerns (at least with me) that he won’t be able to return to form in 2010. Brisiel is far from an All-Pro, but he had gone from someone who was decidedly below average, to a pretty solid player on our offensive line. Not a guy who’s irreplaceable by any means, but he seemed to exceed some expectations. Seems like he has his job waiting for him if he is 100% healthy, but with Caldwell, Studdard, Wade Smith, and Shelley Smith all figuring into the mix, he’s going to have to show something early and often.
Shelley Smith, G – Drafted out of Colorado State, Smith already is a natural fit for the zone blocking scheme, and should be a strong candidate to make the final 53 as a backup.
Kasey Studdard, G – Along with Myers, Studdard has found himself in the “whipping boy” category. What keeps Studdard on this team is that he apparently has that “attitude” that all of us wish all our offensive linemen would have. He’s got that nasty streak, but unfortunately it hasn’t much transitioned into even average results on the field. I actually like Studdard, because I desperately want the Texans to have some more MEAN on their offense… but right now I don’t see anything that tells me he’s more than depth.
*Adam Ulatoski, G – A UT guy who might have the best shot at sticking than most of the other undrafted free agents. Ulatoski can probably be solid depth in this league, and he’s said to have a great motor. If he’s coachable like a lot of UT products seem to be, then he may stick here or somewhere else for a nice career. Mike Kerns has a nice writeup on Ulatoski here.
Duane Brown, T – I think Brown is still getting better and making strides. There were a few instances last year where Brown got to the second level and destroyed a guy, or got downfield on a screen pass and blew someone up that made me scream WHOOAA!!! All that said, I still see him get beaten by guys that have no business beating him. I think he’s an above-average player who I hope has not plateaued. This is only his third season so I expect him to continue to get better.
Rashad Butler, T – I don’t have anything negative to say about Butler on the field. I think he’s a more-than-capable swing tackle, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he could start for a handful of teams in the league. The thing about Butler that I find amusing is his Twitter feed. The guy runs his mouth like he’s coming off his fourth Pro Bowl. Always talking about how great Miami is, and tweeting about bitches and hos. It’s actually about as exhausting as reading Twitter can get… but if you think I’m going to unfollow the guy, you’re nuts. Hahahaha – I deserve it.
*Kristaim Matte, T
*Cole Pemberton, T – I don’t know a lot about these two undrafted free agents… but when we get closer to camp I’ll do a “which undrafted free agent has the best chance to make the team” entry, like I do every year.
Adam Stenavich, T – Spent most of 2009 on the Texans’ practice squad, and is a likely candidate to remain there this year unless injuries become a BIG problem, or more likely – unless one of the new undrafted free agents takes his p-squad spot.
Eric Winston, T – The closest thing we have to a Pro-Bowl player on our offensive line. I actually think Winston regressed a little bit last year after a stellar 2008 season, but you could do a hell of a lot worse than Eric Winston. He’s got that nasty streak that I like so much, and he’s got tons of charisma. On top of being good on the field, he’s also a great representative for the team in the media, and he’s very accessible. The Texans were smart to lock him up long-term when they did.
*Denotes a reported Undrafted Free Agent signing. These players are only reported to have signed with the Texans but as of this entry none of the signings have been confirmed by the team.