Why Texans benched Max Scharping for Senio Kelemete at left guard

75756A5E-120A-4932-810C-2FD980DB785E
By SportsRadio 610

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) -- During the offseason, Texans coaches touted the fact they would be returning all five starters along the offensive line for the first time in a decade.

That would include Bill O’Brien’s entire tenure as head coach, which began in 2014 and ended after the Texans started this season 0-4.

But two games into the season, they were already operating a platoon system at left guard due to inconsistent play from second-year lineman Max Scharping, who split snaps with veteran Senio Kelemete.

Scharping played every offensive snap in the season-opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. In Week 2 against the Ravens, Scharping played 63 percent of the snaps, with Kelemete playing the other 37 percent.

Kelemete, now in his ninth NFL season, has gradually become the Texans’ primary and starting left guard. He’s been with the Texans since 2018, starting 14 games that year before going on injured reserve last season, when Scharping emerged as a starter.

So why the change now?

“One of the things that occurred I think with a lot of second-year players, and first-year players, because you know how important it is from your first to your second year and that development, I think that time missed in the spring and training camp and everything else that we did, basically when he came back, I did not see the jump or the leap that you would expect from a guy that played 14 games,” Texans offensive line coach Mike Devlin said Tuesday during a Zoom press conference.

“To be quite honest with you, (Senio) Kelemete was being more productive in all facets to date, OK? So now as far as the question, I think we're going to need all of our linemen in this type of year. He's working towards it. We talked about the goals to get back. He's steadily been working towards that. I do anticipate him getting in. I do anticipate guys having to play this year. I'm hoping that he takes those goals and runs with it and shows that improvement from last year.”

Scharping led the Texans in performance-based pay last season with a $257,393 bonus. It was part of the collectively-bargained benefit compensating players based on playing time and salary levels.

The Texans drafted Scharping in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft at 55th overall. Their other second-round pick from 2019, Lonnie Johnson Jr. (54th overall), has been switched from cornerback to safety.

Kelemete, 30, is under contract through the 2021 season, when he would carry a $5.75 million cap hit.