It felt like an eternity before OTAs officially kicked off three weeks ago, when we could finally see this 2017 Texans squad out on the field. Yet time has flown by and we are now in the final week of OTAs for the season. As such, what a difference a week made for the offense, in particular. Without further ado, let's get into my observations from Tuesday's workout.
- The three quarterbacks found a groove and stayed in it throughout the remainder of practice. I went back and looked in my notebook after practice and I wrote down "seed" or "laser" at least once for each of the QBs. In my parlance, that means each guy threw a pass with some sauce on it for a completion. Tight RPMs. On point. Completion. I thought all three guys had a number of stellar moments throwing the football.
- Tom Savage spread the wealth out to each of the receivers at all levels on the field effectively. He frustrated the defense with throws all over the field, but his best throw had to be a quick inside throw to birthday boy DeAndre Hopkins. I mean, he put the cross of the football on the 1 and 0 of Hop's jersey.
- I don't know how that type of seed doesn't leave a bruise on the chest of his receivers. Savage has such an easy throwing motion and release and then WHOOMP... that ball is on the receiver in a hurry.
By the way, happy birthday Hop! I remember turning 25... I think I got dial up internet as a gift.
- Brandon Weeden was sharp with his execution and production throughout the day as well. The best throw he made was on a deep in-route to Jaelen Strong. You talk about delivering the rock in a hurry, wow!
- Weeden made a throw later in practice to Strong on the sideline that Strong had to climb the ladder and make an unbelievable catch. That's the type of catch that Strong makes exceptionally well - ball thrown out of bounds by Weeden, essentially, where only one guy even has a chance to make a play and Strong made it. Strizzy snatched that thing right out of the air.
- Deshaun Watson appeared to be even more comfortable than he was the two previous practices we saw. He was decisive and threw the ball with some serious RPMs. There was all this noise on social media channels after the combine that he "only" threw the ball so many MPH. Watching him throw the ball on Wednesday reminded me that there's way too much time between the end of the regular season and the draft because we, draft analysts and the sort, find some stupid stuff to talk about during that period.
- Watson's best throw of the day though was one where he was scrambling to his left and found rookie Justin Hardee for the toe-drag-swag catch on the sideline. It's the type of throw that is NOT easily executed because the QB is on the run and all his momentum is one direction and the throw has to be just perfect. All that said, Watson threw it right on the money for the first down to Hardee.
- Watson hit receivers at all different levels, including Will Fuller down the field for a deep touchdown. Speaking of Fuller…
- The former Notre Dame star appears to be so much more confident than this time last year. He runs excellent routes, which is something he doesn't get enough credit for, but because he's so much more comfortable in this offense and with his responsibilities, he's smooth in and out of his cuts on his routes. That comfort will hopefully manifest itself in even more production in 2017 short, middle and deep down the field.
- A guy that is making the most of his opportunity on the field is tight end Rashaun Allen. I've seen Allen around the building a number of times and I have to remind myself that he's a tight end because that's one big dude. With only a few tight ends available on Wednesday, Allen had a ton of reps to show that he's got some receiving chops. He seems to know how to get to open and has decent hands. The blocking we won't know about until camp, but he's intriguing to say the least.
- Rookie running back Dare Ogunbowale is well skilled in the receiving game as well. He's going to have to prove he can protect on third down, but if he can, he's going to get a ton of reps in training camp and preseason games on third down and in late game/half situations because he can catch it well.
- This rule that is keeping former Oregon State cornerback Treston Decoud, the Texans fifth-round selection, off the field is hampering him and many others in the league. Unfortunately, there's nothing he can do about it, but in essence, Decoud can't participate in team activities until Oregon State's official graduation. This happened to Xavier Su'a-Filo a few years ago as well. Consequently, it's not only Decoud and not only seniors, but a number of others around the league. Carolina Panthers first-round running back Christian McCaffrey, if you recall, famously left school early to begin his work for the draft process. But, like Decoud, he hasn't been able to practice with Carolina either. As such, Decoud and McCaffrey have lost valuable time with their new teams. In all honesty, I just want to see Decoud out on the field and see him compete but, unfortunately, we'll have to wait to do so.
- Safety Lonnie Ballentine had a pass break-up during team drills on a throw down the field. Rookie tight end Evan Baylis went up to snag a high throw and Ballentine nearly forgot that he didn't have pads on. He broke up the pass and luckily held up at the very end so as to not send anyone to the hospital.
- Tight end Stephen Anderson can seemingly get open in a phone booth. He can even get free from corners in coverage. It's clear that these QBs love to throw to him because he can get separation so quickly.
- The team worked on two-minute situations for the first time and it was highly effective. Savage and Weeden led the team to field goal attempts at the horn to set up potential victories.
That's about it for now for this week. We'll be back all next week as the team enters the last phase of the offseason - mandatory team minicamp. We'll see you then.
Check out some of the best shots from the third week of Texans OTAs.