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21 observations from #TexansCamp: Day 7


What an emotional roller coaster sort of day at the Greenbrier on Wednesday. Why? Well, let's get into my observations from the day's practice.

  1. Let's get to the bad, horrible, no good part of the day over with right off the bat. After practice, it was reported by multiple reliable sources that Texans wide receiver Will Fuller V injured his collarbone on a play in practice. Fuller went up to make a catch and landed on his shoulder/oblique area.
  1. I saw it happen and when I see guys go down, my first thought is always "Get up." My dad used to say that to me all the time when I got dinged up while growing up. Fuller did get up but it was clear he was in pain at that moment. Listen, injuries happen, so there's no time to pull the "woe is me/us" card at all. Pull up the britches and get back to work.
  1. Keep in mind this team lost Jadeveon Clowney for most of the 2014 season and went 9-7. Lost J.J. Watt and Kevin Johnson in 2016 and won the division for the second year in a row. It's part of the game, an unfortunate part, but something the offense will adjust to, and move on from, in the near future.
  1. Now, the good news and that comes in the form of 99, J.J. Watt. We were on the air this morning on radio when he came bounding out of the locker room in full pads for practice. I thought I saw Marc Vandermeer dance a little jig and, sure, I was giddy myself, if I'm being honest. His presence makes such a difference for this defense, especially the day after the offense won the day on Tuesday.
  1. After practice, he and Jadeveon Clowney posed for pictures and signed autographs for a group of military members and I couldn't help but think back to what I've said for a while "just give me/us one year with both of those jokers fully, 100% healthy and see what happens."

Check out some of the best shots from Day 7 of training camp at The Greenbrier in West Virginia.

  1. Watt sacked the quarterback without even touching him late in practice, which I'm not sure is humanly possible, but Watt accomplished that feat today. Again, Watt. Clowney. Mercilus. Like all Texans fans, I cannot wait.
  1. I'm a huge drill watcher, which should surprise no one, given the fact that I was the son of a coach, and a coach myself back in my younger years. The running backs did a drill in which they had the ball in their hand, secured high and tight. Then, they would try to touch one of three cones a few yards in front of them. All the while, running backs coach Charles London pulled at a bungee cord that was secured to the football. The premise being that the running back would have squeeze the ball into their bodies and not let it slip as they lunged forward. I wish I would've had those toys when I was coaching many eons ago.
  1. As I look at my notes, one play really stood out early in practice and that was a catch and run by Will Fuller V that showcased the speed that this Texans offense needs on the perimeter. Unfortunately, his injury happened a few plays later.
  1. The play of camp, though, was one that DeAndre Hopkins made look so easy. During 1-on-1s down in the red zone, he ran to the back of the end zone as Kevin Johnson took away his inside. The quarterback (I didn't see who threw it) lofted one to the back pylon. Hopkins reached up with his left hand and snared it with one hand and just swung it in that hand away from Johnson's reach. It's one of those plays where Johnson had no chance whatsover and DeAndre simply snatched it out of the air like a venus fly trap. You know how hard that actually is to do? Hopkins told me and Marc a few years ago that one hand catches are overrated. I have to disagree, my man - that was, is and always will be sick. You can see the play below.
  1. Rookie cornerback Dee Virgin found out the hard way, as well, later in practice. He actually interfered with Hopkins on a throw in the end zone but the Pro Bowl receiver still made the catch and got both feet in bounds for a touchdown.
  1. Each and every day, I see linebacker Zach Cunningham doing a little bit more and a little bit better. During drills, both blitz pickup and special teams, he put two running backs on their wallets. That's not really his game; he was not a powerhouse, destroyer as a linebacker at Vanderbilt. Fortunately, his acceleration has substantially increased his force produced during training camp. See, I went all F=ma on you - Newton's second law of motion. Get on my level, people.
  1. The defensive play of camp nearly happened today. Remember Kareem Jackson's interception against the Saints in 2015? He nearly replicated that interception with an even greater degree of difficulty early in practice. He was fully parallel to the ground as he dove for a pass to his inside. He snared the rock but as he hit the ground, the ball popped out. The defense was on the verge of exploding with cheers but K Jack hit hard and lost the ball in the process. That all said, it was tremendous coverage by Jackson and a wildly athletic and cerebral play that I love.
  1. The Texans worked on a number of unique situations early in practice as I noted earlier this week that they might do.
  1. The best drive during the day was the number two offense, led by Deshaun Watson, taking the team down for a touchdown. Watson threw a touchdown to Chris Thompson in the back corner of the end zone to cap an eight play (I think it was longer, but I missed a play or two) touchdown drive.
  1. Watson worked the pocket on a throw for a first down to Thompson on the play prior. He was sort of enveloped in the pocket by the defense but he jumped, slid and moved into a spot where he could make a throw to Thompson. It was masterful footwork in a small space.
  1. I don't really know how to describe defensive tackle D.J. Reader. Executive Vice President and General Manager Rick Smith told us he was a better pass rusher and overall player than even he anticipated but man, that young man is a spinning, dodging, dancing, whirling dervish inside. There was a guy who tweeted to me last year wondering why Reader didn't sack the quarterback more and I told him, he was impacting the pass rush more than it appeared. He showed during 1-on-1s that he's ready to take another step as a complete interior player, not just a nose tackle.
  1. Things did get a little chippy today, which is about as predictable as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. Tempers flared a couple of times; although predictable, it was something Coach O'Brien noted afterward that this team didn't have time to do.
  1. Watson finished the day with one of his best throws on the day to tight end Evan Baylis for a touchdown at the end of the final team drill. We had a ringside seat as the offense was moving toward the end zone right in front of us. Thing is, I never saw Baylis in the route but Watson did and threw a strike right between the 8 and 1.
  1. The defense, though, wanted a bit of revenge for the outcome on Tuesday. Tom Savage and the first offense moved the ball effectively well all day long on Tuesday, which couldn't have sat well with Mike Vrabel's unit. I said on the radio today that I was intrigued with how the defense was going to respond. Well, message delivered.
  1. On the final drive, Andre Hal had a pass breakup that nearly turned into an interception. Hal was in the perfect spot, but he couldn't quite get his head around to make the INT.
  1. Watt then had his "sack" and that ended the day, for the most part, giving the defense a three and out stop.

Tomorrow will be the offense's day to respond, so we'll see how it bounces back on day number eight. See ya then, everyone.

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