The NFL once again will make its presence felt this summer at The Greenbrier, albeit with a different tenant this year.
The Houston Texans begin their preseason training camp at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Greenbrier Sports Performance Center, just down the road from The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs. The facility had been home to the New Orleans Saints for much of their last three preseason camps, but the Saints decided this season to hold their entire camp at their training facility in Metairie, Louisiana.
Enter the Texans, who had never before held an off-site training camp. They had spent the last 15 seasons at the Houston Methodist Training Center.
Houston enters camp after a season in which — despite missing superstar defensive end J.J. Watt for most of the season following back surgery — the Texans allowed just 301.3 yards per game, best in the NFL, in going 9-7 and winning the AFC South. Houston beat the Oakland Raiders in the wild-card round of the playoffs but lost to eventual Super Bowl champion New England the next week.
Watt will be back in the fold starting Wednesday, paired with Pro Bowl defensive end Jadaveon Clowney, also a second-team Associated Press All-Pro with linebackers Whitney Mercilus and Benardrick McKinney. Offense is another story for Texans head coach Bill O’Brien. Houston brought in quarterback Brock Osweiler from Denver, only to watch him throw 15 touchdowns against 16 interceptions.
The Texans traded Osweiler to Cleveland and took Clemson star Deshaun Watson with the 12th overall pick in the 2017 draft. Watson will compete with Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden for the starting QB job, though Savage has the upper hand for now after starting two games for the Texans last year. Lamar Miller, a 1,000-yard rusher from last season, also comes back, and could be pushed by rookie D’Onta Foreman from Texas.
West Virginia University football fans will recognize one name on the roster — safety K.J. Dillon, a fifth-round pick from 2016 who had been on injured reserve since October.
Practices run from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and are open to the public. The team will practice at The Greenbrier July 26-30, Aug. 1-5 and Aug. 11-16. The Aug. 15-16 sessions will be joint practices with the Patriots. It is free to observe practice, but transportation tickets are $5 for adults and $2 for children 12 and under. Those tickets can be purchased at greenbrier.com. Parking for transportation to practice will be at the Greenbrier Train Station, 315 West Main St. in White Sulphur Springs. Transportation will be available from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.