HOUSTON: Do what you want Houston Texans Coach Lovie Smiths Comments on the offensive line. In reality, the Texans didn’t draft Texas A&M Offensive lineman Kenyon Green 15th overall to move from one position to another.
Green excelled at both right and left flank during his three seasons with the Aggies. He will play one of two positions in Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts.
Smith and Texans general manager Nick Caserio will say what they need to do to keep teams guessing. When Houston opted to pass an offensive-only tackle with the number 3 in favor of LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., the message got clear on how it feels about the offensive line.
Barring a trade before the start of the regular season, Pro Bowl tackle Laremy Tunsil will remain at left. After Tytus Howard received his fifth-year option, he’ll likely start back at proper tackle — a position that appealed to him since his call-up from Alabama state in 2019.
That gives Green the chance to play as either a left or right guard with the pros. In 35 games, he made 15 starts at left guard, 14 at right guard, and four at both tackle positions. According to Pro Football Focus, Green snapped at least 80 snaps per position, with his best reps coming on the left in terms of both blocking and pass protection.
It’s not like Green was simply forced to find a home during his time at College Station. He conformed to what Jimbo Fisher was looking for in a trench leader and shone. His development against pass rushers in the SEC earned him a two-time All-American and a consensus first-round draft pick by most scouts.
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The Texans signed Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman AJ Cann to a two-year deal during the offseason, but he has been limited to one position over the past seven years. An instant starter in the Jags’ trenches, Cann played in 96 games during his time at Duval – 91 of which were at right flank.
Moving indoors permanently only benefits Texans. Green is a proven guard asset, dealing with some of the best young pass rushers in the sport. Howard struggled with consistency at guard last fall and Tusnil is not making the move to a rookie with little to no experience at the position.
Smith will continue to refer to the battle for proper tackle as an “open contest,” but Howard, a third-year pro, should see it that way Charlie Heck and newbie Austin Deculus. Deculus, an LSU sixth-round pick, holds the record for most games played by an LSU grad and made 61 appearances on the offensive line — 46 of which came from right tackles.
Playing green guard is a good thing for Houston. It stabilizes a position of need for years to come, bolstering an offensive line that allowed 40 sacks a season ago while also producing the worst rushing attack in franchise history.
You can listen to the outside noise if you want. In hindsight, Green was always slotted inside. It might also be the best course of action to prolong his career.