The Deadspin 2020 NFL Previews, AFC South: Who Will Emerge as This Year’s January Darlings?

David Johnson

David Johnson
Photo: Getty

COVID Response: Defensive end J.J. Watt and his wife, NWSL star Kealia, donated $350,000 to the Houston Food Bank in March in light of COVID-19 and food insecurity. There haven’t been any reported positive COVID-19 tests at camp. Nose tackle Eddie Vanderdoes decided to opt out.

Outside the lines: Shortly after the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said that he was prepared to support his players if they chose to kneel during the anthem this season. He also offered to join them. “Yeah, I’ll take a knee. I’m all for it,” O’Brien said in June. “The players have a right to protest, a right to be heard and a right to be who they are. They’re not taking a knee because they’re against our flag. They’re taking a knee because they haven’t been treated equally in this country for over 400 years.”

WR Kenny Stills was also arrested in July while protesting for Breonna Taylor in Louisville.

Oh, he’s here now? They added Cardinals running back David Johnson (we’ll get to how in a minute). Also, Brandin Cooks has arrived from the Rams to help sure up a now weakened receiving corp (more on that as well).Veteranreceiver Randall Cobb also joins the Texans, coming over from the Cowboys, and safeties Jaylen Watkins from the Chargers, Eric Murray from the Browns, and offensive tackle Brent Qvale from the Jets.

Where’d he go? The Texans unloaded one of the league’s best wide receivers in DeAndre Hopkins, shipping him to Arizona. Hopkins and head coach Bill O’Brien were at odds about a number of issues. The Texans received running back Johnson and a 2020 second-round pick and 2021 fourth round pick. It was a bad trade for the Texans and will leave a huge void on their offense this season. After the debacle against the Kansas City Chiefs in the postseason, Romeo Crennel is out as Texans defensive coordinator.He spent six seasons with the team.

Will there be fans in the stands? Not until further notice.

What To Expect: Without Hopkins this year, the Texans’ offense will look much different. QB DeShaun Watson, who just signed a $177 million four-year extension this month, will be launching darts, but it’s still unclear who will be catching Hopkins’ share. Can Cooks account for those catches? He did haul in 80 passes for 1,204 yards back in 2018. They still have returning pieces in Kenny Stills and Will Fuller. Defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver, formerly the team’s defensive line coach, is expected to shake up their defensive scheme this season. The team ranked 19th in total defense last year. However, they ranked second on run defense. Regardless of what Weaver lays out as the team’s defensive foundation, J.J. Watt will be wreaking his usual havoc, if he can stay on the field, of course.

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