The Texans arrived on Monday in the Mile High City for a three day series of workouts with the defending AFC champion Denver Broncos.
How'd it go for your favorite ball club on day one? Well, let me quote future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning: "I thought our offense stunk today. I thought their defense kicked our butt. We will learn from the film and hopefully we come out tomorrow and do a better job from a players standpoint and execute".
Well, alrighty then, my work is done...okay, sort of.
Here are my 33 observations from the first day in Denver.
1. The news of the day, though, came before practice started as OG
2. Man, the sight of LB
5. One of the most underappreciated aspects of Manning's game is his ball handling and ball faking. He sells play action as well as any QB ever.
6. That said, his furor about his team's workout was valid. But more of his ire was back at himself. He pointed out that he wasn't close to being happy with his performance. He missed open receivers throughout the day, including a deep ball in 1-on-1 to Andre Caldwell who had a half step on a Texans DB.
7. The individual play of the day in my opinion was made by
9. Speaking of the deep ball, Manning and the Broncos quarterbacks didn't hit the deep ball much throughout the day.
10. During one of the last team periods, Manning noticed the Texans in dime man coverage. Just prior to the snap, he yelled out a one word call. I'm not sure if that then alerted the offense where he was going with the ball, but he eyed Welker in the slot on a seam route against Jackson. The pass fell incomplete and was the symbol of a tough day of practice.
11. After practice, I saw Broncos WR Wes Welker talking at length with Bill O'Brien, forgetting how much time those two spent together in New England. Welker is just so difficult to cover in the slot. In
13. Keenum is a backshoulder throwing wizard and he stuck one to
14. I did see one rep of Andre Johnson during 1-on-1 vs. Omar Bolden. As with his counterpart Thomas, the vet Johnson knows the subtle ways to get open and did against Bolden, who held Dre for a flag.
15. I spent a ton of time watching the Texans defensive linemen and outside linebackers in 1-on-1s against the Broncos offensive linemen.
16. I would love to have every tackle in the league mic'd up when he faces Clowney. On his first rep, Clowney pressured Winston Justice, the USC veteran. The Texan shocked him with his power then ripped inside to win. I saw Justice sort of shake his head afterward as if to say "wow, that guy's a beast". Or something like that.
18. The Broncos' Manny Ramirez and Louis Vasquez are as good a pair on the interior as the Texans are going to face. Ramirez more than held his own against powerful
19. During those pass rush 1-on-1s Chris Clark did a solid job on
21. During team drills, I tried to see as much of S
22. When the Texans second offense came on the field,
23. During that same series of plays, Keenum found TE
24. The first offense ran the same bootleg prior to the twos coming on the field but wily, cagey vet Demarcus Ware was waiting for Fitzpatrick on the backside. Ware and Von Miller, Miller and Ware, huh? Very intriguing pair of edge guys to say the least. I didn't get to see much of Miller today but I'll move around to see him on Wednesday.
25. Having refs out to practice is becoming a much needed asset to be honest. As Marc Vandermeer and I were finishing the last segment for Texans All-Access, I looked out to the field and saw a ref talking with Hal. It wasn't hard to decipher the ref's point as he grabbed Hal's shirt, as if to say "you can't do this; you'll get a flag every time".
26. The last drill of the day was an interesting one. Both teams were given one late game two minute drive, heading into the end zone where all of us media were standing. I had a perfect view and could hear nearly everything, which is important for a couple of these clips.
27. The Broncos started the drill with a completion from Manning to Caldwell. As the Broncos were in hurry-up mode, they all sprinted to the line of scrimmage. Except Clowney. The refs hired to work the practice threw a flag on Broncos T Chris Clark for holding the Texans rookie. With no one really sure what to do, Texans head coach Bill O'Brien yelled out "play on, keep it going".
28. So, Manning got back under center and eyed Thomas in the back of the end zone. Manning lofted the ball over Hal's head to Thomas who toe-tapped for a touchdown. The score unleashed the Broncos' sideline with some words for the "young buck" Hal who got beat. The Broncos defensive backs were louder than most of the others but then again, last I saw that group was in the Super...okay, I'll stop.
29. Prior to the Texans first snap, I looked over near the Broncos sideline where DB Aqib Talib and
30. That kept the drive alive. A few plays later QB
31. A few plays later, Foster made a brilliant catch on a pass downfield to set up one final play at the goal line.
32. I knew that with one final play left in the scrimmage that one sideline would erupt after the play. Alas, neither one did. Fitzpatrick attempted a throw to Hop at the goal line that was incomplete but Hop drew another penalty on the Broncos' secondary. That drew the ire of Broncos safety TJ Ward who had a rather forceful conversation with the officiating crew on hand. I completely saw his point that Hop pushed off to get separation and they missed that but then called Ward for contacting Hop at the goal line.
33. That last drill was as intense a non-game, non-padded scrimmage portion of practice as I've seen since I've been covering the Texans. I wanted so bad for Hop to score the TD and then...see, I'm getting fired up just writing about it. See ya tomorrow with some more from Denver.