Texans think rookie OG Brooks can be a starter

Arthur Arkush
Pro Football Weekly
Texans got good mileage out of backup inside 'backers

With Texans QB Matt Schaub cleared to resume football activities following his season-ending Lisfranc injury sustained in Week 10 last season, it seems like an appropriate time to examine how the Texans will keep their QB out of harm’s way in 2012.

In Chris Myers and Duane Brown, Schaub has one of the better centers and blind-side protectors in the game, and the Texans think 31-year-old OLG Wade Smith will hold up just fine sandwiched between Houston’s two best linemen. But what the Texans do to replace ORG Mike Brisiel (Raiders) and ORT Eric Winston (Chiefs) remains one of the biggest stories to follow in Houston’s training camp.

Penciled in at right guard and right tackle are veterans Antoine Caldwell and Rashad Butler, respectively. We hear the Texans have the utmost confidence in Butler, a long, natural pass protector who fared well when filling in for Brown at left tackle for four games in ’10. Derek Newton, the club’s seventh-round pick in ’11, has made great progress this offseason and will compete with Butler for Winston’s vacated post, though it would be considered an upset if Newton beats out Butler.

The same might not hold true for the athletically gifted but oft-injured Caldwell, who we hear could be given all he can handle — and then some — from mammoth rookie Brandon Brooks. In fact, Brooks was so mammoth — he is listed at 353 pounds — when he showed up for the club’s June minicamp that head coach Gary Kubiak ripped him in the media for being overweight. (The club would like to see him 20 pounds lighter when he reports to camp.) But a source points out that Kubiak wouldn’t have bothered publicly criticizing the rookie if he didn’t think Brooks had a chance to wrestle the job away from Caldwell. The former Miami (Ohio) product, who didn't receive an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine, is agile enough to play in Houston's zone-blocking scheme and brings the kind of nastiness that the coaching staff loved in Brisiel.