In the lead-up to training camps, USA TODAY Sports will be taking a look at the key questions facing each team. Today, we look at the Houston Texans:
How is Deshaun Watson’s recovery going?
The loss of their rookie quarterback proved to be a serious midseason blow for the Texans. The Clemson product had infused an anemic offense with life, setting an NFL record with 19 touchdown passes in his first seven games. Then a devastating knee injury during a non-contact practice drill ended his season. The Texans went 1-8 without Watson to finish the season at 4-12. Watson is expected to return to action by the regular-season opener
Because the Giants signed former Rutgers running back Robert Martin as an undrafted rookie did general manager Dave Gettleman see the Tweet, too? he and Barkley finally are part of the same loaded backfield.
An alternative reality plays out in front of eyes at every practice.
I think Rob Martin would laugh at that one, too, Barkley said. I think it worked out for the best for both of us.
They’re at least still in good shape in the backfield thanks to the emergence of Kenyan Drake (5.0 yards per carry two years into his career) and Frank Gore (doesn’t age), but that tandem can’t totally compensate for the shortcomings at receiver and tight end.
Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders desperately need top receiver Amari Cooper to bounce back from an ugly 2017 season, especially since Cooper’s sidekick, Michael Crabtree, is gone.
The Raiders inexplicably decided to replace Crabtree—who scored eight-plus touchdowns in each of his three seasons in Oakland—with the older, less productive Jordy Nelson, whose numbers fell off a cliff during his age-32 season with the Packers in 2017. They also landed Martavis Bryant from the Steelers, but Bryant has lacked consistency throughout his tumultuous four-year career.
Tight end Jared Cook had a decent maiden season with the Raiders after coming over from Green Bay a year ago, but Carr will miss Crabtree if both Cooper and Nelson can’t get back on track or Bryant can’t emerge.