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Texans OL Juice Scruggs ‘looks great’ heading into Year 2

Starting a game in the NFL is already an accomplishment for Houston Texans offensive lineman Juice Scruggs.

Four years ago, Scruggs, last year’s second-round pick out of Penn State, fractured his L3 vertebrae and suffered a concussion in a car wreck just before the start of spring drills. He was in a back brace for eight months and missed the entire 2019 season.

Injuries derailed the start to his NFL career, but it didn’t define his rookie season. Once healthy, Houston plugged him in the left guard spot as it looked to clinch its first division title in four years.

It’s Year 2 for Scruggs. He’s back taking reps at his natural center position. He’s fully recovered from a lingering hamstring injury and is ready to break out.

He’s worked tirelessly in agility drills and the weight room this offseason and the results have shown up during the early stages of OTAs.

“Juice is looking great,” Texans coach DeMeco Ryans said. “He’s been here for most of the offseason. Even before we started our offseason program Juice was here working out with our strength staff. You can see, right, the growth. You can see he’s a little stronger, looks better. I’m encouraged where Juice is right now.”

Scruggs, when healthy, showed promise in seven games despite being out of position. He was flagged twice for holding penalties and one false start. In his first game, he allowed two sacks in a division loss to Jacksonville.

That was a low point for the Penn State product. The rest of the season was met with highs. He recorded one penalty in 389 snaps and one sack.

The Texans have options at left guard and center. Scruggs is the hopeful starting center, but he could be in a competition with fellow second-year offensive lineman Jarrett Patterson for reps.

Houston also is hopeful to see improved numbers from former first-round pick Kenyon Green. The two-time All-Amercian from Texas A&M missed the entire 2023 season with a shoulder injury suffered in the preseason finale against New Orleans.

Since being placed on the IR, Green’s bettered his work regimen to help monitor his weight. At the start of OTAs last month, he looked learner and more agile working in and out of snaps.

Should Green struggle, Patterson and Scruggs could compete for left guard reps. Both saw action there last season with Michael Dieter starting at center.

Houston’s options up the middle are promising, but it’s only prosperous if it translates to gameday.

So far, Scruggs might have the advantage to secure one of two open spots before training camp begins next month.

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire