The Texans will have two new starters on the right side of their offensive line in 2012.
Through two practices in OTAs, those starters have been Antoine Caldwell at right guard and Rashad Butler at right tackle. But Texans coach Gary Kubiak has made it clear there will be competition at both spots, and the leading challengers appear to be rookie guard Brandon Brooks and second-year tackle Derek Newton.
“Gump’s (Caldwell) gotta stay healthy, stay on the field,” Kubiak said Tuesday. “Butler’s kind of been the same way. They will get pushed. I think Newton is way ahead of where he was last year, and this young guard (Brooks) has got a chance to be a heck of a player. It’s going to be a very good competition. Those things don’t normally sort themselves out until you put the pads on. Right now, it’s more finesse and positioning-type stuff.”
Caldwell, a third-round pick out of Alabama in 2009, has started 13 games in three seasons. Butler has been with the Texans since 2007 and started four games at left tackle in 2010. Caldwell was hobbled by a high-ankle sprain in 2011, while Butler spent most of last season on injured reserve with a triceps injury.
“I want to see them hold up,” Kubiak said. “That’s been the thing with both of them. They’ve had good spurts in their career, but you’re looking for 16 weeks. One thing about our offensive line, all our guys play and stay on the field for a long time, and these two guys need to be able to prove they can do that, too.”
Newton was a bit of a developmental project last year as a seventh-round pick out of Arkansas State. He impressed the Texans’ coaches in limited action and finished the season as the team’s third tackle. Brooks, a third-round pick out of Miami (Ohio), is huge (6-5, 346) but lean and nimble. Kubiak said there’s “no doubt” he will push Caldwell for a starting spot, adding that Brooks could play outside at tackle but will remain inside for now.
The Texans had great chemistry on their offensive line in the last two seasons with Mike Brisiel and Eric Winston starting on the right side along with left tackle Duane Brown, left guard Wade Smith and center Chris Myers. Caldwell and Butler’s experience with the group should should help that chemistry come back quickly, should they become starters in 2012.
“Those guys have been a part of the chemistry,” Kubiak said. “It’s not like they haven’t been here. But you miss Eric and you miss Mike, two great guys and damn good players. The only way you’re going to replace them is with the whole group getting good again and continue to improve and the three guys that are still here playing better, so it’ll work itself out. We just got to keep going.”
Tags: Antoine Caldwell, Brandon Brooks, Derek Newton, Gary Kubiak, Organized Team Activities, Position Competition, Rashad Butler
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