Texans beat writer Tania Ganguli: Tight end Garrett Graham is a player to watch on the Texans’ offense. The Texans’ tight ends had trouble getting open last year, and consequently Houston targeted tight ends less than any other team in the league. That was a surprising fact because of how tight end-friendly Bill O’Brien’s offense has been in the past. Graham looked impressive in camp, getting open with regularity, and it bodes well for his season.
There has been a constant positive buzz about Graham this offseason, so he could surprise in an offense that desperately needs playmakers in the passing game. It's worth noting that, while in Cleveland, Texans starting QB Brian Hoyer fed Jordan Cameron the ball at a 39-796-9 pace (over nine games from 2013-14).
Jayson Braddock, co-host of HustleTown on ESPN 97.5 Houston provided an update on Texans RB Arian Foster: "Arian has been in Houston working out & expectations are for him to return to the field in some facet by week 2-4."
The good vibes continue for Foster. Expecting him to return to full form by Week 2 would not be wise, but the fact that his timeline continues to get shorter and shorter indicates that the injury was not as severe as once thought and that his recovery is going well. At this point, we're projecting him to play 10 games, which makes him our #19 RB in standard formats and #17 in PPR.
Encouraging news. If he would return Sept. 27, it would mean only two missed games. The team would likely ease him in upon his return to the field. Depending on how he responds, he could be in for more touches in the weeks after that. Keep in mind, this is a best-case scenario. Up until now, we estimated more like eight missed games. This news could make Foster a more worthwhile gamble if you feel it's the right part of your fantasy draft to take the chance.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015, 2:48pm
The Redskins‘ first-team offense may be stalled midway thru the preseason, but it has no shortage of quality wide receivers.
Tuesday, when the team regrouped for practice at Redskins Park, two key receiving targets who’ve been sidelined by injury the past two weeks started easing back to work: DeSean Jackson and tight end Jordan Reed.
Neither has appeared in a preseason game yet. Reed hasn’t practiced since Aug. 11, when he joined the injury list with a strained hamstring. And Jackson, who led the team in receiving yards last season, has sat out with a shoulder injury suffered on Aug. 6, the first day of the Redskins’ three-day joint practice with the Houston Texans.
But he was the second running back up against Houston on Saturday. And after slashing through blocks and around the edges of the Texans' defense for 54 yards on just eight first-half carries, he is second to none in the league in rushing yardage so far this preseason, with 120 yards on 16 carries.
Yeah, yeah, it's just preseason. The Broncos know that. Hillman, in his fourth year, knows that. Last year's preseason rushing leader, Baltimore's Lorenzo Taliaferro, gained just 292 yards in limited duty in the regular season. No one's breaking out the streamers and balloons to herald Hillman's arrival.
But there's something different about the San Diego State product now. As the offense as a whole searches for consistency in a tweaked scheme, Hillman appears more comfortable now than ever before.
"He’s moved himself up. He’s had a really good camp," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said after Saturday's game. "... He deserves more reps and if he keeps playing like that he’ll continue to get some more."
Kubiak has always noted that he won't strictly have No. 1 and No. 2 running backs; instead, they will be 1 and 1a. The best example of how that worked for him came in the 2011 season with the Houston Texans, when backup Ben Tate had 175 carries -- 62.9 percent as many as first-teamer Arian Foster. They combined for 2,166 yards and the Texans sprinted to their first division title. The No. 2 back will play -- and he could see a lot of work, the story said. Right now, C.J. Anderson figures to be the lead back with Montee Ball also a factor. But Hillman has been good and the Broncos appear to have three legit threats. While Anderson is a popular early round pick after stepping up late last season, it looks like at least Hillman is trying to make a push for playing time.
Monday, August 24, 2015, 5:04pm
Arian Foster is back in Houston after suffering a groin injury earlier this month.
"He’s in here rehabbing but we really haven’t spoken about where he’s at from a date-of-return standpoint," head coach Bill O’Brien said Monday. "I know that he’s working hard in rehab, and he’s really trying to get back to playing as quickly as he can.”
The four-time Pro Bowl running back was a spectator at NRG Stadium for the Texans preseason game against Denver on Saturday.
Foster suffered his injury during the team’s Aug. 3 training camp practice. He has not participated since, but still remains on the active roster. There is currently no official timetable for his return.
Both QBs really struggled in their last preseason game with the Broncos. Mallett got the start, going 5-of-7 passing for just 23 yards on two drives. Despite boasting a strong arm, not once in his seven passes did Mallett even look to throw deep, an NFL.com article said.
Hoyer entered the game and didn't fare any better, going 7-of-11 for 52 yards. He did try to look deep but failed to connect. Hoyer does have a WR1 in DeAndre Hopkins and could have QB2 or streaming value to fantasy owners. He's said to be a much better fit than Mallett in Bill O'Brien's offense.
Sunday, August 23, 2015, 4:23pm
Grimes came off the bench for five carries and 23 yards and two catches for 12 yards.
“He’s a smart guy that embraces his role,” O’Brien said. “He can catch the ball, and he’s one of our core players on special teams.”
Polk had seven carries for 36 yards, a 5.1-yard average per carry. He also caught five passes for 34 yards.
“Polk had a pretty good game,” O’Brien said. “He showed some juice in the running game. He caught the ball well, too.”
The Texans finished with 24 carries for 71 yards, a 3-yard average.
Polk is a bigger back who would likely be a change of pace or short yardage guy while Grimes may be more of a true backup to starter Alfred Blue.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015, 5:51pm
Those who have wondered what it will look like when Peyton Manning runs an offense constructed by Gary Kubiak and his coaching staff will get their first chance to see it Saturday night (8 ET) in Houston.
Manning was held out of the preseason opener in Seattle this past Friday night, but Kubiak said following Tuesday's practice Manning will get his first action of the preseason when the Denver Broncos face the Texans in NRG Stadium.
"He's going to play. ...I'll say he's going to play quite a bit," Kubiak said. "I'd like our 1s to play quite a bit. Is that a quarter? A quarter and a half? Is that a half? I don't know, I'll see how the game goes, but I want them to get a bunch of snaps under their belt. We have some guys that have not been working together who need to work together. ...Expect him to play quite a bit."
Monday, August 17, 2015, 9:25am
The bottom line is Zach Mettenberger looked sharp in his 25 snaps against the Falcons. He completed 8-of-11 passes for 129 yards in relief of starter Marcus Mariota, including a 30-yard touchdown pass to receiver Rico Richardson. His passer rating was 104.0.
Mettenberger’s 2014 season was cut short because of a right shoulder injury, which caused him to miss the final three games after making six starts. The second-year quarterback rehabbed the shoulder at the end of last season and during the offseason, and said he feels good throwing the football.
Unfortunately for Mettenberger, he'll be behind the rookie Mariota. Mariota offers more fantasy upside because of his legs, even though both would play behind an offensive line that struggled last season.
Saturday, August 15, 2015, 12:04pm
Why watch: The (choose your adjective) rebuilt/retooled/reloaded 49ers get to hit someone besides themselves for the first time. It’s also the first time we’ll see quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s new throwing motion, though he might play only one or two series behind a new and thus far leaky offensive line that will face the Texans' monstrous defensive front.
He’s still expected to be fine for the start of the regular season, but the Eagles wanted to give him time to rest. He’s seeing Dr. Williams Meyers (the sports hernia specialist in Philadelphia who did Arian Foster’s surgery), but Kelly didn’t know if Ertz would need or already had any kind of procedure.
Kelly didn't rule out surgery, but the hope is by shutting him down now Ertz will be ready to go for Week 1. That's not locked in stone, however. Brent Celek is next up on the depth chart but has spent more time as a blocker last year. He is a proven pass-catcher, though. Kelly said Trey Burton, the team's TE3, has been doing a nice job in camp thus far so he could be in line for more time. If Ertz does have surgery, a Week 1 return might not be possible because the standard timetable is 6-8 weeks. This was supposed to be his bust-out year, but owners drafting in the near future will have to have a backup plan in case he needs surgery and misses the start of the season.
Second-year running back Alfred Blue takes on a new role in the Texans’ preseason opener against San Francisco on Saturday night – as the starter with Arian Foster out for an indeterminate time after needing surgery to repair a torn groin muscle.
Blue insists his task is a simple one.
“Run the ball downhill, man,” he said. “Get positive yards. Don’t lose any yards. Hold onto that football. Definitely don’t fumble the ball. Just be productive. They’ve made me the No. 1 guy so, I feel you’ve got to take that kind of role and just motivate the room and just push (teammates) at practice. It’ll start slow sometimes – you don’t want to be out there – but you’ve got to put your head down, get through practice and just try to get better each and every day.”
Tuesday, August 11, 2015, 6:36pm
Graham's 2014 performance was a disappointment considering the promise he showed in 2013 when he caught 49 passes for 545 yards and five touchdowns.
And it wasn't just Graham. As a whole, Houston's tight ends failed to make an impact with just 32 combined receptions among the group.
"I've got to do a better job getting open," Graham said, via the Houston Chronicle. "We all do, and it's something we're really trying to improve on, because last season obviously wasn't very productive for us. We're spending a lot of time with the quarterbacks, before and after practice. The point of emphasis is definitely there. They're coaching us up, helping us out a ton."
Graham missed Week 1 last season with a back injury and sat out the final four games of the season with a high ankle sprain. In the 11 games he did appear in, he was targeted just 28 times. That was a sharp decline from the 83 times the ball was thrown his way in 2013. A fourth-round pick in 2010, Graham is hoping to bounce back in 2015. Having stability at the quarterback position, in the form of either Ryan Mallett or Brian Hoyer should help.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015, 2:34pm
“As an offense, you have to come together so everyone is on the same page as far as communication and calls — those types of things,” Hoyer said. “There’s a lot that goes into playing quarterback, especially in this offense, so you know you try to get it all right and get your team in the right play.”
Hoyer is excited to begin preseason Saturday against San Francisco at NRG Stadium.
“It’s great to get in that first preseason game,” he said. “There’s nothing like that, so it’ll be great to get a chance to get back out there and play the game.
“I think we all strive to be perfect, we know that that’s not reality. I think you go out there, you prepare as best as you can and you go out there and go through the progression of what the play is, whether it’s a run or pass.