If I don't start this observations article well, I'm just going to start it all over and get it right. We did the math; this was the last practice outside in Houston heat for about a week. By no means does that mean the work is done, but a trip to Santa Clara and the team's first pre-season game is rapidly approaching. As such, here are my observations from today's workout.
- Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins may have been inspired by a particular visitor today (Randy Moss) at practice. Perhaps it was that or he just did what he always does with one of his patented one hand grabs during one-on-ones. In typical Hop fashion, he made another one (DJ Khaled reference) on the sideline right in front of the cameras. I was on the radio at the time, so after I got to a break and walked over, my man Gray Moore called me over and showed me the shot in his camera. Wow.
- He wasn't done either. I think I wrote down his name and "great catch" in my notebook about three or four times. He snatched a few out of the air well away from his body. He made one handers look easy. He just did what he normally does and did it as well as it could be done.
- Tight end Stephen Anderson had another solid day. One catch he made during the two-minute situation caused the crowd on hand to cheer as loudly as it did all day long. He was about 20-25 yards downfield in the middle of the field when the throw from Brock Osweiler was about to zip past him. Anderson leapt, twisted a bit and snatched the rock out of the air for a big gain.
- The biggest thing, though, that I've seen with Anderson is his ability to get open. He does little things to get open on a regular basis and that allows him to get separation nearly immediately, especially in man coverage or in one-on-one situations.
- But, it's about Anderson's hands. He made a back shoulder catch for a first down earlier in one-on-ones that he made look easy. Now, in the run game, he got bounced around a little bit at the line of scrimmage, but his receiving skills more than make up for his lack of dominant blocking skills.
- Another tight end getting more open than ever before was C.J. Fiedorowicz. He told Marc Vandermeer, the Voice of the Texans, that the coaching staff told him that it wanted C.J. to have at least 40 catches this year. He looks more determined than ever to make that happen and he's getting open more consistently.
- Receiver Jaelen Strong toe-tapped a catch on the sideline during one-on-ones that was brilliant footwork.
- Running back Akeem Hunt put a move on a linebacker or safety (I don't recall which and you'll see why in a second) that I've never seen before in my life. He started to circle to the middle of the field and then appeared to pivot out back to the flat. But, in one smooth motion, he whirled back to the middle and left his defender in the dust. I was mesmerized by the move so I can't tell you who was covering him but that move was SICK.
- During team drills, Lamar Miller ran the first play out the back door for a huge gain. His vision to see the cut on the backside was on point and he then flashed the burst to get through the hole and out the backdoor for a big run. Excellent cut and run, to say the least.
- Unfortunately, the offense got stuck in neutral at that point and rolled backwards a bit. After a drill reset, the offense got going again and the man that answered…
- ...was Will Fuller. Brock Osweiler took five steps and launched downfield for the rookie from Notre Dame. Fuller made a beautiful catch and that really shook the offense out of its malaise.
- People ask me all the time about what's the impact of a player of Fuller's skillset. I wrote down the word "eraser" in my notebook. The first four plays needed to be erased, minus Miller's run on the first play, and Fuller took care of that. He made a nifty catch and away you go! With a guy with that speed, an offense/offensive coordinator can try to right the ship with one big play down the field. That's what Fuller showed today on that particular catch.
- Fuller also had a catch in far corner right in front of us in the north end zone. He's made so much progress and is gaining the trust of Osweiler each and every play and rep.
- During the two-minute drill later in practice, both the ones and twos produced field goals, which I can't remember the last time that happened. Anderson's twisting catch helped the ones get in position for a short field goal, but when the twos bogged down a bit, K Kai'mi Fairbairn took care of business with a 55-yard field goal, a bomb with room to spare.
- Outside linebacker Gerald Rivers isn't a guy I've mentioned much in observations, but I watched him a bit closer during pass rush one-on-ones today. He definitely had some success and that's one strong dude. He used the stab or long arm move to get to the quarterback on one rep. He had another quality rush later in the drill because I have written down "improved as a pass rusher."
- Another outside guy that has improved year over year is Tony Washington. He rushed from the inside on one play and he completely whipped one of the interior linemen. I'm not sure that the guard got his hands on Washington at all. Overall, though, he's been so much more violent and physical and his ability to get to the quarterback has seriously improved.
- Safety Antonio Allen had a pass break up during seven-on-seven against tight end Anthony Denham. The Texans tight end has seen his share of targets, but Allen got in his hip pocket and made one of his better plays in camp.
- The leader in the back Andre Hal couldn't hang on to an interception opportunity at the goal line. If Hal had DeAndre Hopkins' hands, he'd end the season with 35 interceptions or thereabouts because Hal can get to the ball better than most young safeties I've seen.
- The last three seven-on-seven reps inside the ten-yard line were all touchdowns. Quarterback Tom Savage threw a dart to Keith Mumphery for one and to Anthony Denham for another. The last one was a dirt diver from Brandon Weeden to Wendall Williams that Williams had to scoop off the turf inches from hitting the ground.
- The day wouldn't be complete without at least one pass break up from cornerback A.J. Bouye. As would be expected, he had one in the end zone right at the end of team drills.
- During the two minute situation, Tom Savage showed how much more comfortable he is in that situation. He's always a pretty chill and easy going guy on and off the field, but even more so in camp this summer. After completing a second down pass short of the first down, with the clock moving, he rushed the team to the line of scrimmage, calmed everyone down, snapped the ball and threw a laser shot to Keith Mumphery on the sidleline for 15-20 yards and a first down.
- One thing that's been noticeable the more that the Texans work on situations is how comfortable Brock Osweiler is during those drills. He seems to thrive in any highly competitive situation on a daily basis. He wasn't totally pleased with his two minute drill performance earlier in practice, but I'm not sure why. He led the team to a short field goal attempt right at the gun. I've said it before and I'll say it again, he seems to thrive under pressure and loves it when the lights go on.
That's about it for now. The Texans have a day off tomorrow and a closed practice on Thursday, so the next time I'll get observations to you is on Friday when we're out watching the Texans joint practice with the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara. See ya then, everyone.
Check out the best fan pictures from Tuesday's #TexansCamp practice.