Houston's offensive line is shaping up as one of the biggest questions marks among NFL position groups this year.
As if protecting quarterback Deshaun Watson's blind side wasn't enough of a concern following last October's trade that sent Duane Brown to Seattle, the Texans will be without the services of the frontrunner to replace the Pro Bowl left tackle.
Third-round rookie Martinas Rankin is recovering from surgery to repair a foot injury sustained in last month's rookie minicamp.
"He's doing well," coach Bill O'Brien said Tuesday, via the Houston Chronicle. "He's a smart guy. I think he's picked up the things we've taught him. He's picked them up well and I think he has a good future here. We'll see how it goes."
Although Rankin is expected to return in time for the start of the regular season, his availability for training camp is less certain.
A left tackle at Mississippi State, Rankin was viewed by many scouts as an interior lineman at the pro level. The Texans announced him as a tackle, however, and planned to throw him into the blind-side mix with Julie'n Davenport, Seantrel Henderson and perhaps even converted guard Jeff Allen.
If Rankin is a realistic candidate to start in Week 1, he can't afford to miss valuable practice reps as O'Brien installs a new offense that plays to Watson's strengths.