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21 observations from #TexansCamp: Day 6

Posted Aug 1, 2017

And, so began the Week of the Grind, the unquestioned toughest week of training camp.

And, so began the Week of the Grind, the unquestioned toughest week of training camp.

The Texans travel to play the Panthers next week. The Patriots come to visit on the last week of our stay at the Greenbrier.

Then, there’s this week. No visits. One week of grueling camp in the books. Nothing but practice and meetings this week. This, in my estimation, is the most difficult week/period in training camp, yet the Texans put in another day of yeoman’s work in West Virginia. Here are my observations from day six.

1. Would you believe they all broke a sweat? It was a little steamier, relatively speaking, for the Texans on Tuesday morning. Yes, I’m keeping it in perspective, but it did turn into a beautiful day in the Valley, even it was in the high-70s.


2. Wide Receiver DeAndrew White and safety Marcus Gilchrist signed yesterday and Executive Vice President and General Manager Rick Smith discussed the entire process with me and Marc on radio earlier in the day. It was fantastic radio to get the behind the scenes on the two transactions, especially how the team had to recreate the tryout operation all the way at the Greenbrier.

3. White then went out and caught everything thrown his way. I’ll put it this way, I was watching practice with two thirds of the Triple Threat - Sean Pendergast and Ted Johnson - and Sean said that he was going to make a waiver wire pickup on White after the awesome training camp fantasy numbers he put on Tuesday. And, yes, Sean was joking; there is no training camp fantasy football. Although now that I think of it...

4. I don’t recall an acquisition, perhaps other than Quintin Demps in 2015, making such an immediate impact as White did on Tuesday. He’s a former Greater Houston high school star (North Shore High School in Galena Park) so getting an opportunity with his local team has been a thrill. He’s in for a fight for the 53-man roster, but he was certainly productive on Tuesday.

5. One of my favorite moments of practice was a Deshaun Watson throw down the field to rookie receiver Riley McCarron. We were all standing at the top of the bleachers in the end zone, opposite the Sports Performance Center. That’s been my perch since the first day of camp. So, we were standing nearly directly behind the offense when Watson was taking reps. I love being up there because I can see nearly everything. The offense was working away from us as Watson dropped to throw. When he let the ball go, it didn’t look, at first, like it was going to anyone. He just seemed to be throwing into a vast, blank open space. Then, out of nowhere (or so it seemed), McCarron moved right into the space and made the catch for a first down. To see that ball just headed for nothing-land, then to have McCarron darts in to make the catch, was really cool. it epitomized the “throwing a guy open” concept that analysts talk about all the time in reference to quarterbacks.

6. Speaking of Ted, he saw our esteemed pal Drew Dougherty, wearing salmon colored shorts, walking back over to the radio tent and said “Johnny, who’s that? Is he late for his trip to Nantucket?” I don’t know that I’ve laughed that hard in a week. Thanks TJ52.

7. Foursquare has become such a heated, competitive game amongst the defensive linemen that the field crew painted a foursquare game board between the end zones so the big fellas didn’t tear up the actual playing surface. I want in next time.

8. Running back Akeem Hunt in 1-on-1s is about as slippery as anyone that I’ve seen. He’s so tough to cover and there are probably only two guys that have covered effectively in 1-on-1s during practice. That should really come as no surprise to those that watched Hunt make significant plays for this offense in 2015 and 2016.

9. I meant to mention this on Sunday...I watched Zach Cunningham after practice on Sunday sign nearly everything for everybody at the Greenbrier. He started well before most of the linebackers and wasn’t even finished when I walked over after I finished interviews and my observations piece for our post practice show. He was nearing the end but I think he signed darn near everything.

10. Cunningham’s not, seemingly, the traditional type of 3-4 linebacker but you can see flashes of his speed out on the field at times. He can cover some serious ground as he drops in coverage but also chasing ball carriers in the run game. He made a few plays running guys down from behind, where it appeared there was room to run and he made the play. I often wonder how defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel will employ his services as a rookie and beyond.

11. The offense went on two long drives during practice - one with Tom Savage at the helm and one with Deshaun Watson at the helm.


12. Savage actually had three successful drives up and down the field. One of those drives got a major boost from a long run from Lamar Miller that had shades of Miami 2015 against the Texans when he got loose in the secondary on that forgetful afternoon. With that run, it only took the offense three plays to score a touchdown.

13. Savage then had a drive of a dozen plays or so. It was one of those that featured key plays by the defense, as well, as clutch plays by the offense - a good mix on both sides, really.

14. Defensive tackle D.J. Reader made a tremendous hustle play during one of those drives when he made the tackle 20 yards downfield on a throw to Braxton Miller. The former Ohio State star made the first couple of defenders miss after a catch but Reader was hustling all the way and brought some hat when he arrived.

15. I liked the command that Savage had throughout the drive and the way that he’s taking charge at the line of scrimmage and decision making. He’s processing a lot of information quickly and concisely. I don’t think he or any of the quarterbacks threw any interceptions on Tuesday in any team or group drills. That’s a great step for all three signal callers.

16. Watson did plenty of work with newly acquired DeAndrew White down the field but also got contributions along the way from receivers Chris Thompson and Riley McCarron, who caught the touchdown pass on that drive.

17. There were a few drops during the day which, fortunately, didn’t squelch the offense’s momentum. Overall, though, the offense was crisp and productive throughout most of the day.

18. Linebacker Sio Moore may not tell the best jokes (see Brian Cushing mic’d up) but he can find the football in a hurry. It’s easy to forget about him with the guys at inside linebacker, but he made a couple of plays that forced me to write his name in all caps a couple of times in my notebook.

19. Wide receiver Braxton Miller had one of the best plays of the day and it was one that frustrated the defense. Tom Savage went back to pass and the ball was tipped high into the air. A few defenders adjusted to try to make the interception, but Braxton flew in, skied above them all and snatched the ball out of the air. Without missing a beat, when he landed, he sped forward for a first down gain.

20. There’s no better way to finish observations today than by mentioning the most important observers on hand to watch practice on Tuesday: CEO, Owner and Founder Bob McNair and his wife Janice.

21. We’ve a litany of guests on hand to see practice but everyone was thrilled to see the McNairs at the Greenbrier.

Okay, that’ll do it until tomorrow and day number seven of training camp. I’ll see you then, everyone.

Content on HoustonTexans.com does not necessarily represent the views of the Houston Texans front office staff, coaches or executives.

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