Houston Texans offensive left tackle Roderick Johnson is a rising star and reportedly is a serious threat to Matt Kalil’s title as the starter. What’s up?
Houston Texans fans — it’s Week 3 of the preseason and I’m already excited for these position battles as there will be roster cuts that will be happening soon as the Bill O’Brien will work to trim the roster to 53 men.
Some guys are going to be obvious cuts and others are going to take some thought before the decision is made. For those individuals, the option to stash on the practice squad or to make a “healthy” stash on injured reserve could be an option.
Yes, I know there has to be a legitimate injury for something like to happen but if we’ve known O’Brien, we’re absolutely positive that he has an ace up his sleeve to figure out a way to keep a guy that he wants.
Let’s face it — we don’t have a general manager so since he’s in charge of that, you’ll be hearing me talk quite a bit — as well as praise or criticize — the moves that are made this season.
It’s clearly obvious that he’s holding out for Nick Caserio so fans have no choice to submit their allegiance to Lord O’Brien, the ruler of NRG on Kirby Drive.
But now that I’ve admonished what is inevitable as we mosey on into the 2019 season, one of the most important roster battles is right in front of us.
The battle for the starting left tackle job is currently up in the air as much as O’Brien says it isn’t by re-assuring the public that the job belongs to Matt Kalil.
As much as I’ve heard that from him, I just believe that’s not so, especially with how well Roderick Johnson has been playing.
Last week against the Detroit Lions — a game I attended at NRG Stadium — I wanted to focus plenty of resources of watching how the offensive line is protecting whoever is under for the Houston Texas, whether it be Deshaun Watson, Joe Webb or Jordan Ta’amu.
I’m happy to report that the left side has been not only stabilized but energized with Johnson’s presence. He disrupted, he protected and gave his assignments all they could handle with rookie lineman Tytus Howard lined up next to him.
He’s exuding the confidence that he’s ready to be a starter for this team and if he plays his cards right, he may just get his wish.
Johnson was drafted in the fifth-round out of Florida State by the Cleveland Browns back in 2017. He signed a four-year deal but was cut shortly before the start of the 2018 season. The Houston Texans scooped him up off waivers and have stashed him on the practice squad since.
Johnson is now getting his opportunity — I know he doesn’t want to go back to the P-Squad — to show not only the Houston Texans but the NFL that he belongs in this league as a valuable contributor.
"“I’ve grown since I was a rookie in Cleveland to now,” Johnson said. “I do think I have major changes. Not only mentality-wise but physicality-wise and how I approach things in the weight room, watching film, meetings on the field. Everything has changed since I’ve been in Cleveland.”"
That quote doesn’t characterize a player that’s just looking to be a fill-in, that quote indicates that he’s ready to WIN and STEAL the left tackle with interest! He knows he’s good, he knows he belongs and knows deep down inside that he’s a better option than Kalil.
I had such high hopes for Kalil, he received high praises from O’Brien at the beginning of camp but when his workload increased, so did his production and his effectiveness.
This tells me two things about Kalil:
A) He’s not as good as we thought he still was.
B) He’s not fully recovered from the knee injury that sidelined him for all of 2018.
It’s likely a combination of the two…
The Chron’s Brian T. Smith asked O’Brien the tough questions after practice this past Tuesday — as he should be doing — and it agitated him to no end, causing him to give a saucy response to end the line of inquiries.
Here’s how he responded:
"“Is he hurt? I don’t have to release an injury report until the season starts,” O’Brien said. “Every time I come up here, I get asked about 50 questions about injuries. So, you’ll get an injury report when the season starts.“Right now, I will tell you he is out of practice, per the head coach’s discretion. How is that for an answer? You good?”More from House of HoustonAre you the 2021 FanSided Sports Fan of the Year?Houston Texans: 4 reasons Romeo Crennel is right coach right nowAstros-Twins Wild Card Series: 5 things to know as MLB postseason beginsHouston Texans: The Most Underrated Sports Drought EverHouston Texans: J.J. Watt’s early case for NFL Hall of Fame"
O’Brien has been quite defensive of his baby cub that is Kalil; but ultimately, if he’s not ready to
play, he’ll be headed to the bench or even better, cut from the team.
But we all know that’s not going to happen.
Meanwhile, the Houston Texans have a hungry, young and healthy lineman, a four-star recruit out of Hazelwood Central High School in Florissant, Mo. that eventually went to be a stalwart for the Seminoles in his abbreviated collegiate career.
He also earned a Jacobs Blocking Trophy along with a first-team all-ACC nod in each his freshman and sophomore campaigns.
Johnson has to earn the job like everybody else but he’s off to a damn good start, we’ll see how he performs against the Dallas Cowboys Saturday and I’m certainly hoping for the best.
Let’s keep an eye out — go Houston Texans!