Texans' line flexibility increases with Marcus Cannon, Lane Taylor

Texans offensive line coach James Campen has more options now that Marcus Cannon and Lane Taylor are healthier and able to practice.

The Texans can use Cannon's veteran presence at right tackle behind new starter Charlie Heck, perhaps as soon as the season-opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars, after activating him this week from the active-physically unable to perform list. 

Cannon started practicing and has made significant progress from offseason arthroscopic knee surgery and a strained calf, according to a league source not authorized to speak publicly.

Taylor, cut by the Texans with a failed physical designation and then signed to the practice squad, is also slated to start practicing. Taylor could eventually help the Texans at right offensive guard, his primary position playing for Campen with the Green Bay Packers. For now, Max Scharping is the starter.

“We hope so," Texans coach David Culley said when asked if the team is optimistic that Taylor will play this season. "Lane will start to do some things this week. He hasn’t practiced to this point. He has to practice. At some point when the season progresses, we hope he will be able to play. He should start to practice this week.” 

The Texans obtained Cannon, a former Texas Christian standout from Odessa, a 2021 fifth-round draft pick and a 2021 sixth-round draft pick from the New England Patriots in exchange for the Texans' 2021 fourth-round draft pick originally obtained from the Arizona Cardinals and a 2021 sixth-round draft pick.

Carolina Panthers v New England Patriots

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Cannon is still shedding rust after opting out and not playing last season in New England.

“I don’t know about the 100 percent, but I do know he had a good week this week with the few days we’ve had to practice," Culley said. "He’s looked fine. He hasn’t had any setbacks, but we will know next week about the conditioning and how we start into practice next week,next Wednesdaywith our regular week practice, Wednesday and Thursday to see where he is at ,but we are expecting him to help us and play unless there is a setback.”

The Texans like what they've seen from Heck, whom Culley called the most improved player on the roster. Heck is a former fourth-round draft pick from North Carolina.

“Very happy with Charlie to where he is at to this point," Culley said. "Very happy with him.” 

Scharping struggled last season at left guard and was eventually replaced by Brent Qvale. Now, the Texans like what they're seeing from him as their right guard.

Scharping has upgraded from a strength and conditioning standpoint.

“Max has had a good preseason," Culley said. "Max has improved. There were some things we wanted to make sure Max got better at from a strength standpoint and he’s done that and he’s been healthy. I wouldn’t say he has been a surprise, but I would say he’s been progressing really well for us that has allowed us to do some things with the offensive line because of his play.”

Although former first-round draft pick and starting right tackle Tytus Howard is now the left guard, the Texans feel comfortable he could shift back to right tackle if needed even during the middle of a game.

“Very comfortable," Culley said. "That’s simply because all throughout training camp moving him from tackle to guard and moving him over and we feel like if that happens that won’t be any issue for us and the reason is we’ve done it during training camp.” 

Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 seasons, including the Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. He has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128.

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