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Bill O'Brien believes Texans 'in a good place right now'

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Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien has plenty of reasons to feel good ahead of training camp.

O'Brien began 2018 by signing a contract extension in January; his friend Brian Gaine rejoined the Texans as a general manager in early January; and star players, including quarterback Deshaun Watson and defensive end J.J. Watt, return from injuries.

With two AFC South titles under his belt and a bright future to return to the postseason, it is no wonder O'Brien relishes the environment in Houston.
"I love working here," O'Brien told John McClain of the Houston Chronicle . "I like the way we're set up right now. I really enjoy coaching the players. I say that every year, but it's true.

"When the players aren't here, it's not a lot of fun. I like our staff, too. I think this organization's in a good place right now."

Watt's head-turning defensive plays helped put the Texans in the national spotlight, but Watson's arrival in 2017 gave Houston a bona fide franchise quarterback before he suffered a season-ending ACL injury during practice on Nov. 2, 2017.

Before Watson joined the team, the Texans' quarterback position turned into a revolving door from 2014 to 2016, as Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates, Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden, Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage either started at least one game or attempted a pass during that span.

But with Watson potentially ready to return by training camp, the Texans have a constant presence at the all-important quarterback position.

"It's great for our organization to have that stability at quarterback," O'Brien told the Houston Chronicle. "And it's because of Deshaun. He's a really good guy. He's a fun guy to coach. He wants to be challenged. He wants to constantly improve. He loves the game. He loves coming in every day and going to work. I love his mindset and approach to things."

"I have a lot of confidence in him and the players around him. He's got the skill set. He puts the time in. I know he's the type of player that when you call a play, it's got a chance to work. He knows what needs to be done to make the play work."

In the meantime, O'Brien's outlook goes beyond standard coach-speak because the Texans have every right to enter training camp with positive vibes.

Watt's return will solidify an already good defense, and Watson's presence energizes what should be a dangerous offensive unit.

Houston Texans: Three players trending up heading into training camp

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The Houston Texans have nearly made it to training camp. Let’s take a look at 3 players that are trending up heading into the last phase of the offseason.
The hype train for the Houston Texans is rapidly gaining steam ahead of the 2018-2019 season. Deshaun Watson and a healthy knee are garnering national headlines. The defense appears ready to return to prominence under the tutelage of Romeo Crennel.
Due to a variety of reasons, injuries being the chief of them. But, it appears that everyone will be good to go come training camp, besides D’Onta Foreman. Foreman is still recovering from an Achilles injury he suffered in November.

The Houston Texans also hired a new general manager but, an old face Brian Gaine. He got to work quickly bringing in fresh talent. Tyrann Mathieu, Aaron Colvin, and Zach Fulton are sure to come in and help the Texans compete next season.

In spite of not picking until the third round, he brought in quite the draft haul. The team added some highly athletic guys with excellent potential. Some of the guys may even have the opportunity to come in and compete for playing time as well. You can check out the draft results here.

Who are some guys looking good?
Keke Coutee is battling for the starting receiver job in the slot. So far, he’s been impressing coaches and has a good shot at winning the job. Benardrick McKinney just signed a five-year extension and has been receiving rave reports.

With all that has gone on, the excitement is definitely building, in the organization and out. So, let’s take a look at three guys that are really trending up heading into training camp.

Five reasons why the Texans will make the 2018 NFL playoffs

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Wondering if and how your NFL team can make the playoffs in the coming season? Adam Rank and Marc Sessler have you covered in this ongoing series, as they provide five reasons why each of the league's 32 teams will make an appearance in the 2018 postseason. Today, Sessler examines the Houston Texans.

1) The return of Deshaun Watson
The question is this: Can Watson jump back into the lineup and duplicate the spell he cast on opponents as a rookie? My answer: Why not? His 21 total touchdowns over seven games made the Texans one of the AFC's most watchable teams before Watson was lost to a torn ACL in November. The latest out of Houston is that Watson is expected to be ready for camp.

Go back and witness the two-game stretch where the first-rounder fleeced the Titans and Chiefs in back-to-back weeks for 10 scores and just one pick. Those two affairs highlighted Watson's dynamic arm strength, juicy scampering abilities and knack for the big play. He flung a touchdown on 9.3 percent of his throws last year -- best in the league -- despite seeing more pressure than any quarterback in the NFL. In his first seven games, Watson managed to throw for 8.33 yards per attempt, topping every other signal-caller around. Yes, teams have tape on him, but Watson is coming off another full offseason of absorbing the playbook and adjusting to life as a pro passer. In the start before his injury, Watson lashed Seattle's Legion of Boom for 402 yards. Expect more of the same for a quarterback whose game film doubled as a thing of beauty in 2017.
2) The return of J.J. Watt

Watt has played in a grand total of eight games over the past two seasons. It's fair to ask if the 29-year-old game-plan wrecker can operate at the level of his past glories. Watt was lost last season to a gruesome tibial plateau fracture after undergoing back surgery the previous year. Not fun, but the three-time Defensive Player of the Year has vowed to bounce back. "I feel great," Watt said in May, with a word for the doubters: "Just show up to training camp, watch how I play and then you can decide for yourself how I look."

Coach Bill O'Brien doesn't sound concerned about Watt's ability to destroy quarterbacks going forward, telling "Good Morning Football" last month: "I would never bet against J.J Watt. He's going to be back, he's going to be at full strength, and he's going to help us win a lot of games."

Until proven otherwise, I'm operating under the assumption that Watt will indeed rebound from two lost campaigns to wreak his unique form of havoc on the AFC South.

3) Jadeveon Clowney
Part 2 of Watt's return? Finally seeing him play a full season alongside Clowney, who has blossomed into one of the league's most ferocious run-stuffers and all-around defensive assets. With pass rusher Whitney Mercilus also back in the mix after missing all but five games last season with a torn pec, the Texans have the requisite power up front to drive enemies wild. The team also added cornerback Aaron Colvin and hyper-versatile defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. Houston needs all these guys to stay healthy, but the potential is there: Visions of Watt teaming with a height-of-his-powers Clowney are enough to keep AFC coordinators up at night.

4) The magical powers of DeAndre Hopkins
Tom Savage, T.J. Yates, Taylor Heinicke, Brock Osweiler, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, Brandon Weeden, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum and Matt Schaub.
This ugly list of names packed Houston's clown car of subpar arms before Watson arrived to save the day.

But here's the thing about DeAndre Hopkins: While lesser skill-position players fade away without a quality quarterback on the field, Hopkins is the opposite. He's a week-to-week top-four wideout because of his consistently brilliant play no matter who's throwing the ball.

What he can achieve with Watson at the controls is the stuff of imagination.

5) Bill O'Brien
The presence of a powerful, dynamic quarterback tends to make everyone look good -- especially coaches.

O'Brien endured his share of rough patches when forced to sell us Hoyer vs. Mallett as anything other than a raging farce. That ugly chapter of "Hard Knocks" aside, O'Brien has proven himself to be a talented play-caller. After three straight nine-win seasons with nothing but junk under center, we (briefly) saw what O'Brien could achieve with a player like Watson at his disposal.

Last year's Texans were ripped to shreds by the injury bug. If Houston can keep its finest players on the field, the Texans can hang around in the AFC South.

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