The second day of minicamp for the rookies is always the most difficult, it seems. The playbook builds on itself and the coaches want to see how much the players can retain from day one, yet absorb day two installation. With that in mind, here are my observations from day two at rookie minicamp.
- One of the things I've mentioned often is the ability of this coaching staff to teach and teach well. Some teams decided to make rookie minicamp a non-field activity, but because this staff can instruct as well as it does, these rookies get the best of both worlds. It's impressive to watch individual position coaches instruct, and also build off of film study from the morning or the night before out on the field.
- I mentioned a bit yesterday about wide receiver/returner Wendell Williams. If you don't recall, he's the one with the 4.19 40-yard dash. When that guy has any space at all, he's as fast as anyone I've ever seen in my life. That's not just track speed either, he runs that fast with the ball in his hands. He caught a punt during a special teams drill and shook one guy and then headed up the field in a blur.
- Watching the Texans veterans for the last ten years now, it's so evident the difference in rookies and guys that have "done it before." The difference in route running, change of direction, get off on the snap, amongst many other things is so drastic. This is a good rookie group, but it was clear that they're still rookies thinking their way through an entire practice.
- Quarterback Chuckie Keeton continued to throw the ball well. In 1-on-1s, he completed about eight or nine in a row. The fact that the Texans could execute a full practice with just one quarterback and he handled it the way he did is quite impressive. I don't know what the future holds for Keeton, but he seems to be making an impression.
- Okay, so I lied a bit, there has been another quarterback throwing at practice. Former USC star and current Texans quarterbacks coach Pat O'Hara took a few reps along the way to keep Keeton's arm from falling off this weekend. He threw a few lasers in the process as well. I don't think the Texans will offer him a contract, though, at end of tomorrow's practice. Just a hunch.
- Improvement is the key from one day to the next and first rounder Will Fuller is improving from rep to rep, day to day. Facing corner Richard Leonard, a cat-quick cornerback from FIU, Fuller shook the former Panther defensive back with a double move in cut that was outstanding. Later in practice during team drills, Fuller crossed the formation down the field and made a tremendous one-hand snag for a long completion and first down. One other thing was the fact that he was the first one in front of the jugs machine after practice.
- Another receiver that stands out due to his consistency is former Oregon State/Alabama star wideout Richard Mullaney. In team or 7-on-7 situations, Mullaney finds ways to get open. He seems to always be open in those situations and he hasn't dropped anything yet.
- Former Cal tight end Stephen Anderson continued to impress on the second day. He has glue sticks for hands and caught everything thrown his way. But, perhaps what's most impressive was his ability to get open against linebackers and safeties. In fact, it's not even fair for the linebackers to have to stay with him 1-on-1.
- In my notebook, I have written down "89 again." It's happening so much, I have no idea when Anderson did that, but I trust my notes and, of course, Anderson's ability to catch everything.
- Cornerback Jimmy Pruitt, the tryout candidate, had a great 1-on-1 rep, but he was unable to get the pass break up. He was in perfect position on a route, but just missed knocking it away. He was that close to making a big play.
- Inside linebacker Shakeel Rashad had one of the only interceptions on the day in 1-on-1 as he cut off a route by one of the running backs to make the pick. In fact, I don't know if there was another pick during the day, that might've been the only one.
- One thing rookie players still haven't grasped is that the ground doesn't make you down unless touched. Both days, Coach O'Brien and the coaching staff have had to remind the defense of that very fact. After years of high school ball and three or four years of college ball, it's the one thing that seems to not take right away for first year/rookie players.
- Braxton Miller is going to get open against nearly everyone. He consistently turns safeties around when he's headed downfield.
- Overall, though, it seemed to be a really good day for the defense, preventing deep completions and big plays like on Friday. Romeo Crennel's unit forced a number of checkdowns to backs and appeared to be in better position in coverage throughout practice.
- On the first play of team drills, defensive end Dan Pettinato burst upfield and forced Keeton to have to throw the ball away. Pettinato spent last year on the practice squad and with a year under his belt, he could be a guy to watch in camp this year at defensive end. Of course, to get the rookies more reps, that was his last rep of the day.
- I mentioned Richard Leonard earlier, the cornerback from FIU. He stripped a receiver of the ball during a team drill to create a fumble. That guy continued making plays and he's going to fun to watch in training camp, competing against this Texans group of receivers.
- Former USC Trojan fullback Soma Vainuku is a load and really won't get a chance to truly impress the coaches until the pads go on. But, he's made a few catches out of the backfield to show his versatility. But, his best asset is, without question, his hair cut. Think Ming the Merciless and that's pretty close. I'm not sure how the veterans are going to cut THAT, but it's a fine looking 'do as it is, in my opinion.
- We finally got to see UCLA kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn and he certainly didn't disappoint. He nailed all but one of his kicks, including a pair of 50 yarders. His last one, in swirling winds, from 53 yards nailed the upright about ⅔ of the way up. It's clear that guy has a howitzer for a leg and showed it off on Saturday.
That's the last we'll get to see the rookies until the full team OTAs on May 23rd. That day can't come soon enough when the whole crew will be together. See ya then.
View the best shots from Day 2 of rookie minicamp on Saturday.