REPORT DATES: July 22nd (rookies), July 27th (veterans)SITE: Methodist Training Center, Houston, TX
CAMP OBJECTIVES: After finally getting over the hump in 2011 with a 10-win regular season and opening-round victory in their first-ever playoff game, the Texans now face the unfamiliar task of being the hunted favorite in a reordered AFC South. The defending division champions also have to withstand the loss of several key players from last year's breakthrough squad, with premier pass-rusher Mario Williams, inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans, offensive linemen Eric Winston and Mike Brisiel and wide receiver/return man Jacoby Jones among those no longer on the payroll. The team will be counting on holdovers Antoine Caldwell and Rashad Butler to rise up from the reserve ranks and fill Brisiel and Winston's spots at guard and tackle, respectively, on a rebuilt right side of the line, though 340-pound rookie Brandon Brooks (3rd Round, Miami-Ohio) and second-year pro Derek Newton could have a say in the matter with impressive camps. Grooming a replacement for No. 3 receiver Jones also ranks as a top goal. Houston is very high on Lestar Jean, a college free agent who spent his entire rookie year on injured reserve, and spent mid-round picks on rookies DeVier Posey (3rd Round, Ohio State) and Keshawn Martin (4th Round, Michigan State) in this past draft, but none have ever caught a pass in an NFL game. Rebuilding the special teams is also on the to-do list, with the Texans set to enter the season with a new kicker (rookie Randy Bullock), punter (Donnie Jones) and returners (likely Martin and Justin Forsett), and keeping quarterback Matt Schaub and All-Pro wideout Andre Johnson healthy after each missed multiple games with injuries last year is a must as well.
PRESEASON SCHEDULE (All Times Eastern):
Aug. 11 - at Carolina, 7 p.m. Aug. 18 - vs. San Francisco, 8 p.m. Aug. 25 - at New Orleans, 8 p.m. Aug. 30 - vs. Minnesota, 7 p.m.