By CHRIS DUNCAN, AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Monday that Derek Newton has beaten Rashad Butler for the starting job at right tackle.
The 6-foot-6, 318-pound Newton was a seventh-round draft pick out of Arkansas State in 2011. Butler, entering his sixth season with Houston, was sidelined much of last season with a left triceps injury. Kubiak met with both players on Monday before announcing his decision.
"Looking at the body of work, it was very, very close," Kubiak said. "The thing that moved us toward Newton is watching his progress, watching where he was in the last year, going through the offseason, going through camp -- a young player we think is ascending."
The competition at right tackle has been one of the most closely watched position battles in Texans camp. The team cut Eric Winston in March, a surprising move after Winston started 88 consecutive games at the position.
Kubiak said Newton showed major improvement late last season.
"He's come a long way from Arkansas State," Kubiak said. "We just see things that give him a chance to be a great player. We've got to get him consistent, and those types of things, but if that was the case, he'd have already been there. There just comes a point where you say, `Hey, we're going to work him through this stuff and he's the best guy for us.' I really like his commitment to what we're doing."
Newton played in 14 games last season and felt like he had a good handle on the Texans' complex playbook by the spring. He was worried about making mistakes in training camp, but got reassurances from teammates.
"Being able to come out every day and try to make each play good, it's hard," Newton said. "I had a lot of guys come up to me and tell me, `Just take it one play at a time, be calm and you'll be all right.'"