Punting might not be the most glamorous part of an NFL football game, but given the Houston Texans’ offensive struggles in 2022, it may be the most crucial aspect of their special teams play. Sixth-year punter Cameron Johnston has been one of the more outstanding players at his position across the league this season, and Texans special teams coordinator Frank Ross certainly seems to have taken notice.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Ross made it clear that he has high hopes for Johnston’s development, and expects him to continue improving over the course of Houston’s last nine games. While Johnston may not be a finished product yet, Ross was bullish on his ability to help the special teams unit remain one of the Texans’ strengths heading into their arduous rebuild in 2023.
“We’ve got to be able to match coverage of course,” Ross explained, “but there’s going to be a time when we’re backed up and maybe it’s going to be a go-ahead, or we have a tight lead in a game and have a go-ahead drive that they’re going to attempt, our defense needs to stand up. At that point, we need to give the longest field possible.
“So, you’re really letting him rip it and get after it hopefully in those instances. You’ve got to have the leg talent to do that, and then you’ve got to hit a good ball. Cam [Johnston] has been working hard. Expect him to continue to get better as we go here into the second half of the season. Just be consistent and use his tools to the best of his ability on each rep.”
Fans may not love the idea of the Texans’ punter taking center stage as one of the teams’ rising stars but if it yields Houston a strategic advantage, few will complain when they start seeing wins piling up. Punters have gotten the short end of the stick regarding hype and adulation for years in the NFL, but if you believe what Ross said in his comments on Thursday, Johnston may be able to shake the trend and become a well-known commodity for the Texans for years to come.