On the Road, AGAIN!
Yes sir, last year it was Denver, Colorado to tangle with the Denver Broncos but this year, it's three days with the Washington Redskins at the Bon Secours Training Center in Richmond, Virginia. It was a festive occasion, similar to the environment in Houston for a public practice. As such, the team got some work done against RGIII and company on Thursday. Let's dive right into the observations from the team's workout.
- Marc Vandermeer and I jumped on the air early and our radio set up was a bit off the beaten path a bit from the two practice fields. But, I had a small view of Field Two. As I was talking, setting up the scene from the facility, the wide receivers and defensive backs were doing some 1-on-1s. In the middle of one of my many diatribes, I saw this blur sprint through the small view with a Redskin defender about four yards behind him. It was rookie Chandler Worthy blazing past, making the catch and scoring a TD.
- A few moments later, Jaelen Strong was matched up on a white jersey. Now, the Texans flipped jerseys today as the offense wore white while the defense wore blue, so Strong was going one on one with a Redskins offensive player. I eventually realized that the Redskins must be trying to convert former Florida receiver Quinton Dunbar to defensive back. Yeah, Strong whipped him on that route down the field.
- That was a good moment for Strong, but he had a couple of lapses in concentration, one right in front of me during 7-on-7 when Ryan Mallett hit him right in the hands for an easy catch and Strong couldn't complete the catch. He's been excellent in training camp through this point and I expect him to bounce back and have a few great days to finish the road trip.
- A few moments after seeing Strong flash against Dunbar, I saw a group of Texans WRs and Redskins DBs having a bit of a pow wow and then it turned into a mild fracas. It started as a Redskins defensive back made some comment to Strong, which caught the attention of DeAndre Hopkins and then Redskin DeAngelo Hall opened his mouth. That exacerbated the situation as the verbal tete-a-tete turned into a shoving match with Hopkins and Hall right in the middle of it. Then, I saw Big Tex Ryan Mallett himself run over and defend his teammates which was the least surprising aspect of the the whole thing. Mallett backs down from no one. There were no more dust ups, but the talking did continue throughout the workout.
- Later during 7-on-7, after hitting three or four consecutive throws, Brian Hoyer went through his progressions and truly only had one option downfield - DeAndre Hopkins across the middle of the field. He wasn't really open but Hoyer tried to stick it into him anyway. He threw it high hoping Hop might be able to sky to snag it, but it was incomplete. After the play, I was standing a few feet away from the Redskins DBs and a couple of them starting taunting Hopkins, serenading him with "D Hop...D Hop". I don't think Hop heard them, but I came back to tell Marc the story and he had the perfect comeback. "Didn't those guys give up a 75-yd bomb to Hopkins last year?" Boom. Roasted.
- Early in the radio show, right smack in the middle of one of my answers to Marc's question, I saw DeSean Jackson walking gingerly right off the field. I didn't see what happened, but apparently during 1-on-1s with the
Texans DBs, he collided with a blocking sled and separated his shoulder. We saw him come back out a while later with a huge ice bag on his shoulder. He'll be out a few weeks but I really wanted the Texans DBs to be challenged by his deep speed this week.
- Speaking of Washington receivers, keep an eye out for rookie Jamison Crowder from Duke. This joker can flat out fly, but he's best in the slot as his quickness has no peer. There's a Vine video out there with Crowder going 1-on-1 with Kareem Jackson. Crowder darted inside and Kareem slipped on the cut, leaving the rookie wide open. At the Senior Bowl last January, Crowder did that to EVERYONE he faced. He was so quick in space, even though he's no bigger than your youngest son. Just saying, keep an eye on him, especially now that Jackson is out for a few weeks.
- First play of team, Hoyer found C.J Fiedorowicz open crossing the formation for a solid catch and run to start the period. I thought the Texans passing game was strong throughout the day.
- The Texans didn't pick up one blitz during that team period, but that was the only bust I remember during that team period. Redskins LB Perry Riley came off the edge to "tag off" on Hoyer for the sack. But, after that Hoyer found Cecil Shorts on a slant with a perfect catch and run pass.
- Hoyer really has a good thing going with Shorts, who a few plays later was left all alone down the right sideline for a deep catch down the field.
- Jay Prosch hasn't had a tremendous training camp but he's had more opportunities in the passing game. He worked himself open versus the Redskins linebackers and Hoyer found him for a long first down throw.
- When the twos came out on the field, Mallett got a little pressure, rolled to his right and threw a dart right on the money. Dropped.
- I thought both quarterbacks threw it well today. Hoyer did throw an interception that happened down the field that I couldn't see exactly what happened. But, that was the only pick that I remember seeing the Texans throw during the day.
- Late in the practice, down on the goal line, Hoyer threw an absolute gem to DeAndre Hopkins. After Alfred Blue's strong run to the two yard line, Hoyer lobbed the fade to D Hop in a perfect spot for the touchdown. The offensive players all ran down to congratulate the third year receiver again, as they did when he made the one hand snag back in Houston a few days ago.
- Mallett then got his goal line reps with the twos. Something wasn't quite right on the first rep as two Texans pass catchers ended in the same area. But, on the next rep, Mallett worked up in the pocket and threw a laser to rookie tight end Khari Lee for a TD. Then, Big Tex got out the six shooters and fired. Of course, it was subtle, but fitting because he smoked that ball to Lee and then brought them out. I loved it.
- On the goal line, late in practice, I thought the Texans flourished on both sides of the ball and both first and second teams. The Redskins first offensive goal line series was ended on fourth down when safety Rahim Moore blasted Chris Thompson in the hole and kept him short of the goal line. That got the defense charged up in a major way.
- During a move the chains team drill, Mallett moved the twos up the field after a couple of rough reps to start the drill. But, he hit a third down throw to Keith Mumphery that kept the drive alive. He then hit Keshawn Martin who made a tremendous catch up the right sideline to get inside the ten. Then, he threw quick to Travis Labhart who made a couple excellent catches during today's workout to end the drill.
- I mentioned linebacker Justin Tuggle yesterday and he had another decent day. He tipped a pass going down the seam that safety Corey Moore intercepted during the Redskins move the chains situation drill.
- Overall, I thought this was Benardrick McKinney's best day. During one team drill, the first rep he was on the field, he destroyed an OL and then tackled the Redskins runner, forcing a fumble - the only one I remember on the day. He seems to be gaining confidence each day. He's so much more confident playing the run as he flies from sideline to sideline looking to make tackles.
- A.J Bouye got the Texans defenders jacked up with a pass break up to end a Redskins drive near the end of practice. I pay most attention to those plays that get teammates fired up on the sidelines and Bouye's breakup did just that.
21, One of the great aspects of having a joint practice is being able to watch players from other teams work. That goes both ways, but during individual, I noticed Ricky Jean-Francois and Jason Hatcher just staring at JJ Watt doing his individual work with the rest of the Texans defensive ends. I saw them looking over there and moved a little closer to see if I could hear them and I heard the name "Watt" a few times.
- Speaking of the other team, I didn't really get to see Robert Griffin III throw the ball that much but when I did, it was good but not great. One thing stood out more than anything else and that was it seemed that RGIII was aiming the ball and not driving the ball and trusting his throwing mechanics. It was almost as if he was hoping the ball to his receivers more so than throwing it, if that makes sense. That said, he is BELOVED up here in Virginia. Wow. I stayed around to record two or three TV segments and nearly everyone was off the field. Then, I looked over as I was recording and RGIII came back out after his media sessions and signed autographs for a ton of fans for the next 45 minutes. This obviously is a huge year for him in Washington and this is a great defense for him to face this weekend.
- One player that continues to have a strong camp is Jonathan Grimes. The third year running back played his college ball at William & Mary, just down the road in Williamsburg, VA, so there were TV reporters asking Texans head coach Bill O'Brien about him today. O'Brien noted that he's been extremely pleased with Grimes and that the former Tribe runner has been excellent in this 2015 camp. He's such a weapon out of the backfield catching the football but he's as reliable as it gets.
- Oh yeah, the Redskins fans really appreciated getting a glimpse of JJ Watt. They applauded nearly anything he did, including catching one hand passes from the jugs machine after the workout.
- Oh, yeah, last thing, for real this time...when the Texans were announced as the team for Hard Knocks, the first thing Bill O'Brien said was that the nation would get to see what a hard working team this was. I couldn't help but think about that after practice. The Texans had just finished a long three hour workout with the Redskins and off near the side field where we did our radio this morning, there were medicine balls, strength straps and kettlebells. As the Redskins walked off the field into the locker room, the Texans players got in a workout right there on the field before doing media and getting back on the bus to head back to the team hotel. The Redskins will more than likely get a workout at their facility later today but seeing them pack up for the day while the Texans kept working, I couldn't help but think back to O'Brien's thought.
Day five is in the books with days six and seven yet to commence on Friday and Saturday. I'll have more observations for you over the weekend, so continue to check www.houstontexans.com for interviews, radio segments, articles and videos throughout the rest of training camp.
The Texans worked vs. Washington on Thursday in Richmond, Virginia.