Last year when GM Rick Smith drafted Nick Martin from Notre Dame in the second round, he expected the former Irish standout be the starting center week 1 when the Chicago Bears came to town. Unfortunately, a broken ankle that required surgery sidelined him for all last season.
On Thursday however, the long awaited return came.
As Tom Savage took snaps under center with the first team offense, Martin took his place as the starting center for the 2017 season.
“(Martin) is a good player, a tough guy,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “He hasn’t been able to play in a game yet, so I’m really looking forward to watching him play against Carolina (preseason opener Wednesday).
Center was never a problem for the Texans last season even with Martin’s injury. Greg Mancz filled in for the entire season and was one of the top ranked pass blocking centers in football according to Pro Football Focus. Still, Martin’s size, speed and ability to provide wide running lanes might make him the best option for the time being. That is, if he can remain healthy.
“Keeping him healthy, that’s going to be a big key for him because he’s a very, very good player,” O’Brien said. “He’s strong, smart, doesn’t say much, a good leader. He’s got all the intangibles you’re looking for.”
Both Mancz and Martin have expirence at guard, so there could be a possiblity both players see first team reps this season. As for now however, the 2016 second round pick is back and ready to compete for the 2017 season.
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