Texans: Missing a field-position weapon?
Shane Lechler, the six-time first-team All-Pro went down after having a punt blocked in the Texans’ 30-17 loss to the New York Giants and may be a game-time decision for the team in Week 4.
For a Texans team that has taken an old school approach to winning games, the opposing team’s starting field position is an integral part of that formula and Lechler is a weapon in that department. He’s finished outside of the Top 3 punters only once in the seven seasons we’ve graded (2012) and has taken the position’s crown three times including back-to-back in 2009-2010 and last season when he topped the group with a +40.9 mark for the year.
Through three games this season, Lechler has punted the ball 12 times for a total of 589 yards, an average of 49.1 yards per punt, fourth best in the league. With 41.7% of his punts being returned (14th in the NFL), he has helped limit opposing teams to a total of just 51 return yards. The NFL’s career leader in gross average per punt (47.5 yards), Lechler is currently sitting seventh with an overall grade of +5.0.
As of now, Lechler is listed as day-to-day with a soft-tissue injury and his status for Week 4 against Buffalo is still up in the air. Three of the four punters Houston tried out as possible replacements this week finished last season adjacent to each other near the bottom of the ranks; Zoltan Mesko (-3.8), Brian Moorman (-4.8), Mat Mcbriar (-5.3). The fourth, Kasey Redfern, is a 2014 undrafted free agent who earned a +5.5 grade on 15 preseason punts for Jacksonville. It has been reported, though, that the team would bring another 2014 UDFA, Chris Boswell, up from the practice squad. Boswell also punted 15 times this preseason but came away with a -4.0 punting grade.