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AFC South camp preview: Camp will sort out Texans’ quarterback situation

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The Sports Xchange

HOUSTON — The Houston Texans begin their second training camp under head coach Bill O’Brien in much better shape than they did last year. But they’re potentially in worse shape when it comes to their still-undecided quarterback situation.

Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett will battle it out for the right to be the starter. Hoyer has the early edge, but there’s no reason the strong-armed Mallett can’t win the job. Several other key position battles remain, including left guard, tight end, No. 2 wide receiver, linebacker and safety.

After going 9-7 with four quarterbacks last year, O’Brien will guide a run-first and defense-first approach that hopes to dethrone Indianapolis for the AFC South crown. But first the Texans have to figure out who their quarterback is.

“You can’t get to the Super Bowl without getting in the playoffs,” owner Bob McNair said. “The primary goal is to get in the playoffs. The only sure way you can do that is to win your division. That has to be our goal.”

The Texans will fight for the postseason for the first time in three years while ignoring national TV lights. O’Brien is team-first, not me-first. But McNair has opened the organization’s doors to the intrusion of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” cameras throughout training camp.

“I think that’s going to be difficult, to be honest with you,” O’Brien said. “I don’t think it’s going to be easy, especially in the beginning. There’s a camera in just about every meeting I’m in charge of.”

The fiery, no-frills O’Brien should be a national hit on “Hard Knocks.” But he might have to tone down his language at practice.

“I’ve always told myself since I became a head coach for the first time at Penn State that the best thing to do was to be myself,” he said. “So I’ll try to be myself because that’s the only way I know how to be.

“In the beginning, though, there’s definitely going to be an adjustment. I’d be lying if I said anything different.”

CAMP CALENDAR

July 31: Team reports

Aug. 1: First practice

Aug. 6-8: Joint practices with Redskins in Richmond, Va.

Aug. 25: Camp ends

–Team strength: Cornerback.

Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson pair to give the Texans one of the best corner situations in the league. They can lock down, run and tackle with the best.

–Breakout player: Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz

After a disappointing rookie season, Fiedorowicz is primed for a sophomore bump. He can block well and is big enough to handle linebackers. With improved route running, he could be a starter by midseason.

–Work in progress: Safety.

D.J. Swearinger was removed from the Texans. Kendrick Lewis left during free agency. And while the Texans signed Rahim Moore from Denver, the team doesn’t have a strong safety locked in place for training camp.

Eddie Pleasant, Lonnie Ballentine and Andre Hal are among those receiving consideration. But the Texans will likely use the preseason to continue to evaluate the position and could add another experienced body before Week 1 begins.


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