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21 Training Camp Observations: Day 2

I refuse to cramp up giving you my observations from Day Two of training camp, but I can't promise you anything. But I'm also not sitting around waiting for an "Alaskan cold front to blow through", so onward we trudge. What'd I see on Day Two? Glad you asked.

  1. First note is my one omission from yesterday and I'm embarrassed that I missed this one. Late in practice on a field goal, Case Keenum took a bad snap (planned?) and started the FG fire drill. See, when a snap goes awry, the snapper and the holder alert everyone on the field with a "FIRE" call. That gives the end men on the line of scrimmage the notice to go get open because we are no longer kicking it. One of the end men was Ben Jones. So as Keenum rolled out, I heard "GIVE IT TO ME". It was Jones calling for the rock. That's right: a 300 pound guard at tight end calling for the ball like James Harden at the end of the shot clock. So good. Then  he dropped it. As expected, he caught some, well, you know.
  1. Okay, on to today, two new OLBs on site Lawrence Sidbury and Quentin Groves, adding to the competition mix.
  1. The "Two spot" period has been extremely helpful in getting "the threes" additional mental reps. I love seeing this near the start of practice.
  1. Oh, if you try calling me today, forget it, I'm not answering mainly because I can't hear the phone ring. Let's just put it this way, the Texans found their amp/speakers and let rip today. Wow. And guess who was standing right next to the speaker? Headed to the store for some ear plugs immediately.
  1. Former Nebraska defensive end Jason Ankrah continues to make progress as an OLB in this system. Watching him in a 1-on-1 passing drill against TE and RB, he matched cuts in a pass route as you'd expect a veteran to do. Quite impressive. More on him in a bit.
  1. Watching the OLB in pass coverage read/fit drill, I noticed there weren't enough receivers on the field. Then, when the ball was snapped GM Rick Smith was running the route at the perimeter receiving position. The Texans have seemingly adopted "the more you can do" as a motto, but Smith may have taken it to another level. Unfortunately, he didn't yell "GIVE IT TO ME" like Jones.
  1. On the second day,  Johnathan Joseph was moving even better than he did on day one, which is a great sign.
  1. A tradition following hockey games is to name the game's three star players. If I followed that trend, I'd definitely make former Vanderbilt CB Andre Hal a Day Two 3-star player. He made an extraordinary interception on a deep ball as he was 1-on-1 with Andre Johnson. I'm not exactly sure how he drew that assignment but it's the kind of thing that can buoy a young man's confidence. I watched Hal after that play for the rest of practice and that play seemed to give him a boost confidence-wise. He's going to get better day by day as well; that's great news.
  1. He wasn't the only rookie CB to make an impression. Former NDSU star Marcus Williams picked off a pass during team against Keenum and it's evident his confidence is gaining as well.
  1. Watching WR Mike Thomas in 1-on-1 drills, I don't recall a S/LB or anyone for that matter that

even came close to matching him step for step. He's an interior route running maestro.

  1. It feels like we've all talked "Brooks Reed to ILB?" for months. With some injuries and the sort at OLB, he's played almost exclusively at OLB on the first two days. On the first play of team, it hit me how much they'll miss his ability to set the edge against the run if he does move inside. A healthy Jadeveon Clowney can hold that point for sure but Whitney Mercilus must prove he can as well as Brooks did to allow Reed to move inside semi-permanently. With this team/staff/players, I'll never using the words "always" or "never"...even though I just did. Just never again. Doh!
  1. I've seen every football workout this team's had since April and I don't know that I've seen Ryan Fitzpatrick as dialed in as he was to start 7-on-7. He hit Dre between the numbers on a deep out. He

dropped a dime on Keshawn Martin 45 yards downfield. He then completed the next three in a row. 5 reps. 5 completions. Ball didn't hit the ground. The best I've seen him sling it as a Texan.

  1. To my Aggie friends out there, be proud, VERY proud, of the two Aggies on this team. I don't know what the future holds for EZ Nwachukwu and rookie Travis Labhart, but both of them are going to make roster cut time extremely difficult for the coaching staff. Labhart dropped a quick screen early in practice but caught everything else, including a deep ball behind a Texans DB. I remarked to Marc Vandermeer during practice that only Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins have caught more balls than Nwachkwu. He gets open and hangs on.
  1. It's hard to imagine that two months ago, Lacolton Bester was an unsigned player on a tryout. He's made an impression, including on a diving catch in 7-on-7 from Tom Savage.
  1. Oh, if you ever had any worry about the Texans challenging defenses down the field, well, don't anymore. Texans' quarterbacks threw it deep more than I can ever remember in a practice.
  1. I remember when the hip hop group Public Enemy was HUGE in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Well, Chuck D and Flavor Flav got an honorary new member today: Brandon Harris. Public Enemy No. 1 did not make the receivers happy whatsover at practice. First, he inadvertantly tackled Johnson on a crossing route. That's U on U violence; we can't have that. Then, he interfered on a pass on the far sideline. On the third play, he tangled feet with Devier Posey on a deep route that irritated the former Buckeye receiver. It's almost too hot to start beef with the other side of the ball and that's about the only thing that stopped a donnybrook.
  1. I mentioned Ankrah earlier and it's a name that you may hear more and more. During 7-on-7, he locked up with TE Garrett Graham on a corner route. The rookie matched Graham step for step. Keenum tried to get Graham the ball but Ankrah's coverage thwarted a completion. After the play, linebackers coach Mike Vrabel celebrated with Ankrah with a jumping butt bump...I don't know, maybe that celebration has a name, but I will tell you Coach Vrabel still has some hops.
  1. You want some fantasy advice? Okay, be the smart one in your league that gets Hopkins on the cheap. Just go with me on this one. Then again, if you were sitting in the stands on the far side, you don't need that advice. He made a brilliant grab up over a corner, high pointing the ball as no one else on this roster can do.
  1. Full disclosure, I played defensive back in college many eons ago. There wasn't much I was scared of, but when I saw Xavier Su'a Filo sprinting downfield today in front of a screen...I'd have been scared of that. The big fella was MO-VING. Pads go on tomorrow, so that'll be the true test for XSF and the other linemen.
  1. Keenum might be the best "back shoulder" college quarterback I've seen and he made one of those throws to Keshawn Martin during 7-on-7 as well.
  1. Mercilus must make an impact rushing the quarterback this year, but if he breaks up passes 35 yards downfield as he did to start the team session, so be it. He's no Deion Sanders but the coverage dictated that he run down the field with the receiver. He, then, knocked the pass down. Very impressive for a man that size.
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