11 observations from Wednesday's veteran minicamp

Well, the Texans play indoors, for the most part, so the past two days of mandatory minicamp are just preparation for the long season ahead. That's at least what I'm telling myself, but Bill, the tropical storm that is, sent the Texans inside for the second consecutive day. There's only one more day of minicamp before the players go their separate ways prior to training camp. As such, the offseason will officially conclude tomorrow, which means there was plenty of work to get in today. Here are some observations from the workout.

  1. I said this yesterday and I'll repeat it today. The Texans workout today was as competitive as any I've seen. Loud. Intense. Everyone getting involved. Refs were on hand to try to handle the ruckus and did a decent job, all things considered. But, I love seeing practices like this and it's the way things will be under Bill O'Brien. He's one of the most competitive people I know and this team is falling right in line. Marc Vandermeer and I noted that it was as competitive as we could remember and Marc goes back to day one of the Texans.
  1. That said, Marc was convinced that something "was on the line" for the supposed winner of today's practice, but when we asked safety Lonnie Ballentine in our interview (that you can hear Thursday night on Texans All-Access) he said, "No, that's just the way we do things around here.". That gave me chills.

Take a look at photos from the second day of veteran minicamp.

  1. At one point in the practice, a defensive player, I believe it may have been Max Bullough, couldn't hold on to an interception that hit him in the hands. The defensive sideline erupted in excitement, then when he couldn't hold it, they all groaned. I don't remember moments like that in other practices. Ever. This was definitely not going through the minicamp motions.
  1. One guy I mentioned yesterday that had another good workout was wide receiver Jace Davis. He made a number of catches today, whether it was out in the middle of the field or in the end zone. The wide receiver position is going to be one of the most hotly-contested competitions in training camp and if Davis continues to catch the rock as he has, he'll be hard to look past.
  1. Daily quarterback update because you need to know, right? Anyhow, decent day for Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett, but Tom Savage, after his stint on Texans Radio with us on Tuesday, threw it extremely well. Savage proved in Denver in last year's preseason game that he enjoys having the ball in his hands with the clock winding down and he seems to relish end-of-game/end-of-half situations in practice. He was probably the best of the three quarterbacks with end-game situations today.
  1. C.J Fiedorowicz and Garrett Graham both made good end zone catches during the red zone aspect of situational work. C.J.'s was ruled out of bounds, but per review by us on the sideline, he caught it. The more I watch the tight ends, Ryan Griffin included, the more convinced I am that the whole group will take a step forward, a big leap forward in 2015.
  1. For months, we've all wondered aloud and in print about the return of outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney and what the team would do at the position if he's not quite ready to go. We talked about John Simon and Whitney Mercilus, but one guy we haven't talked much about is Jason Ankrah. It's hard to tell what guys in that role will do without pads on, but he appears quicker and more explosive off the snap than he was last year. He flashed today a couple of times and he'll definitely be a guy I will study more during training camp.
  1. Speaking of quick off the ball, former Rice product defensive lineman Christian Covington's quickness has really stood out. I'm not sure whether he feels all the way back after his kneecap injury in 2014 that cost him most of his last season at Rice. However, if he's not quite at 100 percent, it's going to be unreal to see him fully ready to go. That guy gets off the ball like he was shot out of a cannon. I'm not sure exactly what position he'll play and how much, but he's got a future with this defense, this defensive line and this organization.
  1. Cornerback Darryl Morris didn't make as many plays today as he's been making, but the competition he had with wide receiver Keith Mumphery for a ball deep in the end zone was awesome to watch. As it was mostly a passing camp, these two saw a bunch of each other and will continue to do so when training camp starts soon.
  1. I mentioned Jeff Tarpinian yesterday and today he stood out to me on one play in particular. The Texans were working on a late-game/late-in-the-half drill with the game clock running. Brian Hoyer made a throw near the sideline to a running back or receiver who had to get out of bounds. But, playing the situation to a T, Tarpinian walled him off and even though there was no tackling or contact, he sort of danced long enough in front of the receiver to "tackle him" and not let him out of bounds. With no time outs remaining in the drill, the offense couldn't get off another play. As soon as I saw it, I thought "smart, so smart", then I heard a couple of players and coaches congratulating him, yelling the same thing. "Smart football, Tarp."
  1. One receiver sometimes lost in the shuffle is Keshawn Martin. He's made some quality catches in workouts and made a couple of nice grabs today. Martin is a name I hear from people a lot, wondering how does he fit on this team with DeAndre Hopkins, new draft pick Jaelen Strong, two free agent signees, another draft pick Mumphery and Damaris Johnson, among others on the roster.

I'm holding out some hope that he follows in the footsteps of another former B1G star - Brandon Lloyd. Early in his career, Lloyd had a couple of marginal seasons for the 49ers as he never caught more than 48 passes in a season. He had played seven seasons, including one for Denver the year prior, before he finally burst out. He had 77 catches, 70 catches and 74 catches in three consecutive years after he had COMBINED for 59 the previous four seasons. Now, Lloyd's a rare situation, but crazier things have happened, so who knows? I do know he appears more comfortable in this offense in 2015 and more consistent in practice than he's been since he's been a Texan.

One more day left, so we'll be back tomorrow with the last we see of this team until training camp. See ya then!

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