The Houston Texans are mere days into Bill O'Brien's first training camp, but some truths are already evident. The most welcome sight has to be the return of Andre Johnson to the fold.
The Greatest Texan Ever is working to get O'Brien's intricate offense down.
Johnson and all-pro running back Arian Foster are already dealing with what's been referred to as minor injuries by the team though. When it comes to Foster — the real lifeline of the Texans offense, a man who played in only eight games last year — any nick is significant.
O'Brien needs Foster to be a Marshall Faulk-level dual threat to have any chance at pulling off a big surprise this season.
The prized first overall pick in the NFL Draft — Jadeveon Clowney — has also been limited in camp, sticking to what O'Brien calls "the rehab protocol." Clowney is only being counted on to immediately dominate in year one.
Ryan Fitzpatrick stands above the other quarterbacks on the Texans' roster in O'Brien's eyes. Anything but a sure thing, Fitzpatrick needs a good camp — and a better preseason — to build more believers beyond the coach's office door.
Case Keenum — who showed plenty of big-game potential while starting for a crippled, dispirited team late last season — finds himself in a real fight for the backup quarterback spot. Despite showing a real NFL arm, Keenum needs to prove the doubters wrong.
Rookie quarterback Tom Savage is O'Brien's hand-picked guy, the tall man with the live arm. Savage will have plenty of more chances to shine, but he hasn't wowed early.
Mike Thomas is an O'Brien reclamation project who could end up starting at slot receiver. Whoever plays the slot in this offense should catch a lot of footballs.
And yet, there's no clear front runner, which makes it one of the more intriguing position battles in camp.
Second-year safety D.J. Swearinger continues to bring the swag and loving football life attitude. The question is: Can he become a leader quick enough to emerge as a difference maker?
In the world of training camp, it's often make plays or get cut.
Bill O'Brien's been a loud, stern presence in his first NFL training camp as the head guy. He's always looking for a teaching moment, a correctable mistake.
There's still some time for a few lighter moments however.
For unestablished players, every day of training camp is a test. For the new coach, it's an opportunity.