Texans' offensive line in flux

Injuries and a myriad of other factors have had a negative effect on the Texans’ offensive line.

The majority of the position group is in major flux in the wake of left offensive guard Kenyon Green, a former starter, being placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, a tear, that requires surgery, according to a league source. And rookie center Juice Scruggs is out for two to four weeks with a strained hamstring, per a league source. Both players were injured against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night during the final preseason game.

Plus, right tackle Tytus Howard, signed to a three-year, $56 million extension at the start of training camp, is regarded as a long shot to play in the season opener against the Baltimore Ravens after undergoing surgery to repair two broken bones in his hand and having metal hardware inserted. Howard was dressed out in full pads last week, but he wasn’t practicing.

While Howard has not been ruled out yet for the Ravens game, sources emphasize it will be touch-and-go for him to return in time. Veteran tackle George Fant is the projected starting right tackle with Howard sidelined

Although the Texans traded a 2025 sixth-round draft pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for center-guard Kendrick Green, he had his issues as a starter as a rookie and didn’t play at all last season after losing his starting job. Green, a former third-round draft pick from Illinois, was nearly drafted by Texans general manager Nick Caserio three years ago, per a league source.

Where all of this leaves the Texans’ offensive line is a makeshift situation beyond Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil, the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL at $25 million annually and the highest graded pass protector in the game last year, and right guard Shaq Mason, acquired in an offseason trade from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and signed to a three-year, $36 million contract extension.

The Texans could go with Kendrick Green as their center against the Ravens. However, he had a 52.4 overall Pro Football Focus grade as a rookie. Former Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert described his play as a rookie as impacted by a calf injury and that he did “a lot of good things,” and had “rough spots.”

The Texans could also plug in sixth-round center-guard Jarret Patterson, who had his moments during the preseason, at center in place of Scruggs with Green lining up at guard, or vice versa. The Texans cut Michael Deiter, who started at left guard in place of Kenyon Green against the Saints.

The Texans traded a fifth-round draft pick to the Arizona Cardinals for former University of Houston offensive lineman Joshua Jones, a former third-round draft selection, who has started at offensive tackle and guard. Jones yielded three sacks and 20 pressures in 2021 as he primarily played right guard for Arizona. He was switched to tackle last season and started nine games.

As for Kenyon Green, this is another setback for a player who underwent surgery as a rookie to repair a meniscus in his knee and then had arthroscopic knee surgery after last season and missed the entire offseason.

The former first-round draft pick from Texas A&M had struggled mightily as a rookie last season, allowed 47 pressures and four sacks in 823 snaps. He had a 37.7 Pro Football Focus blocking grade, a 27.0 pass protection mark for the season, including a season-low 3.6 pass-blocking grade against the Washington Commanders.

Green worked with the second-team offense as Michael Deiter started Sunday night against the New Orleans Saints. Green struggled with the second-team offense as he allowed rookie first-round defensive tackle Bryan Bresee to beat him on a spin move to sack quarterback Davis Mills. Green was in visible pain as he grabbed his left arm and was examined in the blue medical tent on the sideline.

Texans coach DeMeco Ryans alluded to Green’s medical issue after the game during a Monday press conference.

“Kenyon has done a great job of battling through,” Ryans said. “He’s been dealing with some things. He’s battled through a lot, and it’s been tough on him.

“But I’m proud of Kenyon and what he’s battled through that everyone may not know. Tough kid going through a lot, but he’s tried to go every single day and he pushed it for us, and I’m proud of his effort and what he put out there for us. He has been dealing with multiple things, and I’m proud of Kenyon.”

Drafted in the first round a year ago with the 15th overall pick out of Texas A&M, Green endured a difficult rookie season as he dealt with injuries and was overwhelmed by elite defensive linemen. The former blue-chip recruit from Atascosita underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and missed the entire offseason.

The Texans have invested heavily in the offensive line, including signing Tunsil to a three-year, $75 million extension, Howard’s three-year, $56 million extension, Mason’s deal and trading for Jones and, now, Green.

“Whatever we need to do up front, we’ll do it,” Ryans said. “We don’t go if our O-line doesn’t go. We don’t go if our D-line doesn’t go. Whatever we need to do to continue to get better up front, we’ll do it and invest whatever we need to invest to make that work.”

Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790.

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