JACKSONVILLE- Jaguars.com during June and July will speak with a writer or media member covering each of the Jaguars' AFC South rivals. Up today:
Houstontexans.com contributor and reporter for Texans radio and TV Deepi Sidhu on the Houston Texans, who went 4-12 in 2017 and battled some key injuries on their roster:
Question: What is the state of the Texans as the offseason begins?
Answer: A key number of players are still working their way back from last year's injuries: defensive end J.J. Watt, quarterback Deshaun Watson, running back D'Onta Foreman to name a few. The addition of several free agents and draft to boost the secondary – such as safety Tyrann Mathieu, former Jaguars cornerback Aaron Colvin and rookie safety Justin Reid – are also stories to watch. The biggest question mark remains on the offensive line. Second-year offensive lineman Julien Davenport is battling for the starting left tackle spot. The Texans offensive line is under a total overhaul with at least four new starters heading into 2018.
Q: Would you call this a successful offseason – and if so, how?
A: With new general manager Brian Gaine the Texans were able to add several key pieces this offseason, but the biggest measure of success will be the return of Watson. How successful his offseason rehab is will determine how successful the Texans' offseason was, essentially. So far, Watson could participate in 7-on-7 and individual drills in organized team activities, which is a big step forward after undergoing anterior cruciate ligament surgery last year.
Q: What did the Texans get done in free agency?
A: The Texans added three offensive linemen in free agency: Tackle Seantrel Henderson (Buffalo), center/guard Zach Fulton (Kansas City) and guard Senio Kelemete (New Orleans). They also fortified their secondary with the re-signing of cornerback Johnathan Joseph and the additions of Mathieu and Colvin.
Question: Was the 2018 draft successful for the Houston Texans?
Answer: The Texans did not have a first- or second-round pick this year after trading their first-round pick to Cleveland last year and selecting Watson. The Browns also received Houston's second-round pick in the [quarterback] Brock Osweiler trade. Still, they managed to get a steal in the third round with safety Justin Reid (Eric Reid's brother) who was projected as high as a second-rounder. Texas Tech wide receiver Keke Coutee could add speed as a wide receiver and kick returner. The Texans also added another tackle in Martinas Rankin, which should help with offensive line depth.
Question: Give us an update on Watson. How is he recovering from his injury?
Answer: Watson is around six months removed from ACL surgery. He was still limited in OTAs and could be back for training camp. For now, he's working on his timing and chemistry with receivers. Having Watson back on the practice field will definitely help the Texans' offense heading into camp.
Question: What's the outlook for the Texans in 2018?
Answer: As long as Watson stays healthy, which also includes finding an offensive line combination that works well, the Texans have high hopes after a disappointing 4-12 finish in 2017. Romeo Crennel is back as defensive coordinator and if Watt, linebacker Whitney Mercilus and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney can stay healthy, the sky is the limit for this defense.
Question: What are your realistic expectation for the team this season?
Answer: The Texans will have some struggles early on with the offensive line, but Watson's mobility and playmaking may make up for that. Watt could take a few games to look like himself again too, but as long as he's on the field, he's effective and a force for opposing offensive coordinators to account for in their game plan. My realistic goal is that the Texans should return to the postseason and have a healthier roster in 2018.