• Brian L. Barefield

In The Trenches-Texans Training Camp 21

Day 3 of Houston Texans training camp on Friday was. Wait. I feel like every Texans article should start:

Quarterback Deshaun Watson was at practice.

Watson did not participate in any team drills.

He put his helmet on.

He said hello to teammates.

Ok. I know the last two statements was a little overboard, but it seems like Watson’s every move must be accounted for as long as he is still with the team. At least that how some are reporting it.

I digress.

One question that has been looming large coming into training camp was what player would step up on the defensive line without future Hall of Fame player J.J. Watt who now plays for the Arizona Cardinals?

A player who is throwing his name in the hat is 6’2-242-pound defensive lineman Jacob Martin. The former Seattle Seahawks player who was acquired in the Jadeveon Clowney trade before the season started in 2019 is trying to show new defensive coordinator Lovie Smith that he is ready for the job.

During one of the breakaway drills between the offensive and defensive lineman, Martin found himself lined up in front of right tackle Tytus Howard.

On the first battle, Martin made an aggressive move to Howard’s outside shoulder before he would stop and spin on a dime to get free to the inside and get to the quarterback. That did not sit well with Howard and the two had some words after the play to indicate that they both wanted to go again.

The two lined up and at the snap of the ball, Martin tried to use a different move on Howard, but this time he was unsuccessful as the 2019 first-round pick was able to contain him. Howard shook his head from side to side a couple of times to let Martin know that he was not going to get past him a second time. Both players laughed as they went back to their respective sides.

Things didn’t go as well for defensive lineman Whitney Mercilus on Day 3 as he is still trying to adapt to playing from a three-point stance for the first time since his college days. You can tell that the former outside linebacker does not feel comfortable with his hand on the field, and it is showing.

"I can't see nothing," said Mercilus. "When I was standing up, I could see everything, the formations, understand what's coming my way. I see the down and distance. I understand what situation we're in, things like that. Now with my hand in the dirt, I'm kind of limited, so I'm depending on what the tackle is giving me, whether it's the screen, a pass, a run, zone, things like that. My keys are different.”

Tuesday is the day when the Texans put on pads for the first time, so I am pretty sure we will see some good battles in the trenches.

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