The Houston Texans enter the 2021 NFL season with more questions than answers.
They brought in David Culley, who was the Baltimore Ravens wide receiver coach last season, as their new head coach.
Whether he plays this season is still up in the air.
Overall, the Texans are poised to be one of the worst teams in the NFL and their overall future remains in question.
However, despite all the negatives surrounding the team, a few players still have an opportunity to shine for the Texans.
While they may not be playoff-bound, these players have an opportunity to at least make the Texans competitive against lesser opponents throughout the season.
3. Lindsay Will Lead The Team In Rushing
The Texans have four running backs on their roster with expansive NFL experience.
Houston added Ingram, Lindsay, and Burkhead this offseason while they landed Johnson in the trade that sent Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals.
Johnson served as the Texans starting running back last season, rushing 147 times for 691 yards and six touchdowns.
With so many veteran runners on the roster, it may be hard for one to truly break out.
But Lindsay has the talent, and opportunity, to do just that.
Lindsay spent the first three seasons of his career with the Denver Broncos, rushing 534 times for 2,550 yards and 17 touchdowns.
He added 77 catches for 465 yards and an additional score while he was named a Pro Bowler in 2018.
The Texans signed him to a one-year, $3.25 million contract this offseason.
Lindsay started Houston’s Week 1 preseason game, a 26-7 win over the Green Bay Packers, and rushed five times for 14 yards.
He out-snapped Johnson 8-2 with the first-team offense.
Lindsay was recently named a co-starter on the Texans’ first depth chart.
— Mark Lane (@therealmarklane) August 11, 2021
Lindsay has the least amount of experience among the Texans’ running backs at just 42 games.
However, he is the youngest at 26 years old.
Houston will have plenty of mouths to feed this season, but at running back, it appears as if Lindsay has an opportunity to quite literally run away with the starting role.
2. Mills Will Have The Most Passing Attempts
As the Texans wait for any clarity on Watson potentially playing in 2021, they have turned to veteran Tyrod Taylor as their presumed starter.
Taylor has been in the NFL since 2011 and has played for the Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Chargers.
In that time he has completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 9,770 yards and a 54/20 TD/INT ratio.
He has added 1,850 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground while being named to the 2015 Pro Bowl and winning the 2013 Super Bowl with the Ravens.
As of now, Taylor is penciled in as Houston’s starting quarterback come Week 1.
However, throughout his 10-year career, Taylor has never appeared in all 16 games.
He hasn’t appeared in double-digit games since 2017.
That’s where rookie Davis Mills comes in.
The Texans did not have first or second-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Their first pick came at No. 67 overall in the third round, where they selected Mills.
Mills spent three years at Stanford, throwing for 3,468 yards and a 18/8 TD/INT ratio.
He made his NFL debut in the Texans’ contest against the Packers, completing 11-of-22 passes for 112 yards and an interception.
Not enough people are talking about this throw by Davis Mills. pic.twitter.com/khruAtesB6
— Evan (@GREENEVEPHANT) August 15, 2021
Mills isn’t the most impressive quarterback in this year’s class, but why would the Texans use such a high draft pick on him if they don’t plan on using him?
Aaron Reiss of The Athletic reported that Mills “should play” at some point this season.
Even if Taylor makes it through a whole season, he provides nothing to the future of the Texans.
In a supposed down year, Mills should get as many reps as he could handle to prove he could potential be the team’s quarterback post-Watson.
If not, then what was the point of using a top-100 pick on him in the first place?
1. Cooks Finishes Top 10 In Receiving Yards
If one thing is certain for the Texans this season, it is that Brandin Cooks is the team’s number one receiver.
— SportsRadio 610 (@SportsRadio610) August 17, 2021
Last season, the Texans traded a second-round pick to land Cooks from the Los Angeles Rams.
He went on to catch 81 passes for 1,150 yards and six touchdowns.
While Houston did add former Michigan receiver Nico Collins in the third round with the No. 89 pick, Cooks should still lead the team in yards, receptions, and passing touchdowns.
Cooks’ best quality throughout his six-year career has been consistency.
While he is yet to make a Pro Bowl, he has gone for over 1,000 yards in all but two seasons.
Outside of 2019, Cooks has had at least 50 receptions every season.
With a yards per reception average of 14.2, Cooks has proven to be a play-maker during his time in the NFL.
This season, the Texans are going to have to ask a lot out of Cooks.
It’s unlikely they’ll be in many positions where they can run the ball and slow the clock.
In those garbage-time scenarios, whoever is throwing the ball to Cooks will be looking at him early and often.
While the Texans might struggle record-wise, assuming he is healthy, Cooks could have the best season of his pro career.
If so, Cooks will be statistically one of the best receivers in the NFL.