The Texans didn't practice in pads for the first time since they were allowed, so it was a lot of passing game work and situational work for the team. Here are my observations from the day.
- A lot has been made of wide receiver Jaelen Strong's work and preparation this off-season and with good reason. He's playing the position with a ton of confidence and winning battles with all cornerbacks on this roster. He started off one-on-ones with a tremendous catch on a throw from Brock Osweiler.
- As an aside, Strong had a diving catch for a touchdown on Saturday's workout that I failed to mention. My bad, Jaelen, I owe you one.
- Cornerback Charles James had another pass break upin his first rep of one-on-ones. Each first rep for James, that I've seen, has seemingly ended in a pass breakup.
- Socks update? James was wearing one of his green and blue tall sock specials. A good look for a board of director's meeting or training camp competition against DeAndre Hopkins and crew. Versatile, just like Charles James.
- Wide receiver Cecil Shorts continued to get open all over the field. The six-year veteran has been all kinds of impressive getting open against everyone and making every single catch. He's been a football playing dude this week for certain.
- The only defense for running back Akeem Hunt on his pass routes is hoping he doesn't catch the ball or the pass is off the mark. He and Tyler Ervin can shake a defender in a phone booth.
- Safety Andre Hal channeled his former cornerback days tracking a Texans wide receiver in the back of the end zone. As the ball reached its target, Hal reached in at the perfect time and knocked it away.
- I wrote down "Akeem Hunt is difficult to cover" twice. So, I typed it twice.
- A debate broke out near the end of the one-on-ones down by the goal line on Jaelen Strong's last rep. He made one heck of a catch on a backshoulder fade but only got one foot in. It was pretty clear, but the receivers were ready to call up to the booth for the replay. Alas, they lost.
- Running back Jonathan Grimes does so much of everything. He's the type of player that can do anything that's asked of him and he stepped up today to take on more reps at the position, especially early in practice in two minute situations.
- The team worked on a late game situation, down one with ninety seconds remaining in the game. It might have been the best first two minute situation I've seen this offense have in the three years Coach Bill O'Brien and his staff have been here.
- Quarterback Brock Osweiler drilled his first pass to Stephen Anderson to get the drive going and picked up a first down after a pressured throwaway (caused by Whitney Mercilus) and an offsides by the defense.
- Perhaps Osweiler's best throw of the drill was his intermediate sideline route to rookie receiver Will Fuller. I was right in line with throw and Osweiler threw that ball well before Fuller made his break. Fuller made the catch and stepped out of bounds.
14, After a Johnathan Joseph pass breakup and an incomplete throw, Osweiler found Grimes for a first down and moved the offense into field goal position. Another completion to Grimes moved the offense even closer.
- This was when Osweiler's poise, leadership and command of the moment came to the forefront. When Grimes made his last catch, it left 2nd and two yards and most importantly about twenty seconds left on the clock. Osweiler made sure to get everyone relaxed and ready, ran the clock down to five or six seconds and spiked it to stop the clock. Kicker Nick Novak drilled the kick for the win.
- That drive was exactly how a coaching staff draws it up. Brilliantly executed all the way around.
- The second group moved down the field as well, but bogged down after the best completion of the drive from Tom Savage to tight end Ryan Griffin.
- I mentioned Akeem Hunt earlier out in his pass routes and it's similar for Tyler Ervin. His in/out shake to get separation from a defender is flat out scary. He just needs to make sure he hangs on to the football.
- During team drills later in the practice, Tom Savage made one of the best throws I've seen throughout the first week of training camp. He lasered a rocket shot to Keith Mumphery right on the sideline. I wrote down GREAT in all caps in my notebook, so, yeah, it was a GREAT throw.
- Running back Kenny Hilliard looks like a different back than he did last year. He wanted to destroy anything in his path last year, but this year, he seems to be much lighter on his feet with a bit more shake than I've seen him have.
- During punt team drills, punter Shane Lechler put on a clinic in coffin corner kicks. I didn't keep track of the number of punts he killed on his own inside the ten-yard line, but I'm convinced he's controlling the punt with some sort of remote control on its way near the goal line. It might be the best I can remember seeing him since he's been here in Houston.
- Tackle Kendall Lamm gets tested every single day against Whitney Mercilus and it's made Lamm a much better pass protector. I'm a Lamm fan and he continues to improve each and every day.
- Quarterback Tom Savage takes out any frustration he's feeling with his throws. He threw one to Tyler Ervin for a touchdown that hit Ervin right between the three and the four. I mean, Savage put some juice on that one, so much so that we heard the thud of ball hitting shoulder pads all the way across the field.
- Similar to the way that Kendall Lamm has improved throughout the week facing Whitney Mercilus, A.J. Bouye has seen plenty of DeAndre Hopkins. The best competition of the day was down on the goal line as Bouye knocked away the first two passes when he was isolated on Hopkins, but the Pro Bowler got the last word on an in route for a sliding touchdown. Even though Bouye wasn't able to stop that last rep/throw, he's shown that he's up to the task more so than ever before.
- One of the best moments of the day was Max Bullough's pass breakup down on the goal line. Bullough chased after Tom Savage and right as Tom threw the pass, Bullough volleyball spiked it down. The pass fell right into the hands of linebackers coach Mike Vrabel. The former Patriots star outside linebacker took off, with about eight or nine white shirts in tow, for the south end zone. The group sprinted all the way down the field, led by Vrabel, who probably still runs in the 4.7 range. Okay, maybe 4.8.
Tomorrow, the Texans will move inside for the day, so we'll have more for you then. Thanks for reading and we'll see you on Monday.
Check out the best fan photos from Sunday's #TexansCamp practice.