Training camp day one is in the books and it feels like an entire season elapsed in two and a half hours of time. But head coach Bill O'Brien, the coaching staff and the players got a ton of work done to kick off the season. I didn't tweet one time during practice, figuring I'd save my thoughts and accumulate them here. So, here are my 25 observations of Day One.
1. OL Will Yeatman and Tyson Clabo, along with ILB Akeem Dent participated in practice for the first time. One common thread among the three - size. Yeatman is all man and Dent is much bigger than I remember seeing him on tape.
2. I've seen teams do this more often but it was the first time I can remember the Texans doing it. Early in practice walkthrough period, the team had two 11-on-11 sessions working at the same time. Do some math, if they run 15 plays in that period, do that for 10 days, that's 150 extra mental reps young players get. That's nearly two and a half game's worth of mental reps at a much needed time.
3. As such, ILB Max Bullough was calling the defense for the third group, giving him those much needed reps (and an opportunity to stand out as an undrafted free agent).
4. GOAT Andre Johnson ran a post route early in practice - something he's done a million times. O'Brien was watching that portion and motioned for Dre to take a sharper angle on his route. It hit me then how much Dre will have to adapt to aiming points, timing, nuances etc...but he's so good at his craft that he adjusted immediately. (**GOAT stands for Greatest of All-Time...so you know)
5. During one-on-ones, one of my early season X factors CB AJ Bouye made a tremendous pass breakup during 1-on-1s.
6. DBs seemed to get the best of the receivers in those 1-on-1 drills but throughout practice the competition was intense.
7. WR Uzoma Nwachukwu, better known as EZ, continues to impress. Since the three day Rookie mini-camp, he's gotten open, caught nearly everything and is making it tough for the coaching staff to forget him. He spun a DB around in a 1-on-1 drill like a top.
8. The slot receiver dynamic will change dramatically under this new staff and, seemingly, one of the beneficiaries of that focus is WR Mike Thomas. From early in mini-camps and OTAs, he's gotten the attention of the coaching staff. During 1-on-1's, he was incredibly difficult for inside personnel to cover.
9. Former North Dakota State star CB Marcus Williams broke on a ball and nearly intercepted one during 1-on-1s.
10. As FB Jay Prosch caught the ball out of the backfield and ran free up the sideline, I wondered how many DBs will have to make "business decisions" whether to tackle that 260 pound runaway train or not.
11. Much was made about the lack of timing QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and WR Andre Johnson would have because they'd never worked together. On the first play of team, CB Kareem Jackson was up in press man on Dre. At the snap, Dre gave a little shimmy, buzzed his feet, all the while setting up his inside move on the slant route. At the perfect time, Dre planted his left foot, pivoted inside and as he turned the ball was put between the 8 and the 0. Perfect timing. Yeah, I guess that narrative can die on the vine soon.
12. ILB Akeem Dent, new to the Texans, is very aggressive, reads flow and flies to the ball. But, I also noticed that he redirects rather quickly, an important trait, and one most guys don't have, for fast flow players.
13. I'm going through my notes and I just have Mike Thomas written down. Again. I'm guessing he did something good in 7-on-7. So, WR Mike Thomas. And, I underlined it and put asterisks by it too. He must've done something REALLY good. Yeah, that's it.
14. Throughout the dead period, if you will, much was made about RB Arian Foster's backups - Andre Brown and Alfred Blue, in particular. One thing I noticed today about both was the ease with which both caught the ball out of the backfield. If both can learn the pass protection schemes, they'll be more than adequate fits behind Arian.
15. Brian Cushing has big muscles...Deepi told me to write that.
16. CB Josh Victorian got picked on a little bit earlier in practice, but bounced back with a pick on a short route that he jumped during 7-on-7.
17. The best dressed player award must go to CB Elbert Mack with some sweet Michael Johnson-like 1996 Atlanta Olympics GOLD shoes. Complete baller move.
18. I'd love to be a fly on the meeting room walls of the DB and WR as they watch film. DBs complimenting one another on a great breakup, while in the WR room, they'll screaming about pass interference. Now, as a former DB, I know for a fact that DBs get away with holding, pushing, mauling, tripping, pulling and/or anything else not mentioned with no refs on the field. My scientific study measures out at 35-40% pass interference or holding that doesn't get called in practice. Now, I feel like a magician that just outed other magicians doing the sword trick but it's true. DBs get "handsy", if that's a word.
19. WR Keshawn Martin made an electrifying catch on a go-route in team, only to have the cramp monster snatch his calf on the way down. I talked to Keshawn after he caught extra passes from the jugs gun and he said he was fine.
20. S Shiloh Keo gave every DB coach in the vicinity a huge smile after he intercepted a tipped pass in team drills. DB coaches have their players run the tip drill nearly every day so when it results in a pick, it's a good day.
21. DE Jeoffrey Pagan caught a tipped pass for an interception during team; it was nice to see the former Alabama star getting practice work after missing all of mini-camps and OTA practice sessions.
22. CB Victorian made another pass break up during team. In team and/or 7-on-7 sessions, Victorian looked much more comfortable than in 1-on-1s.
23. The clear winner on Saturday? Heat. It was one of the hottest practices I can remember and it had an impact on this roster. Plenty of IVs to go around.
24. Didn't get to see much with OL and DL but their day of reckoning is around the corner. That's also known as "The First Day in Pads"
25. Dre's back...in case you didn't know.