Nearly five thousand Texans fans braved the heat and humidity to watch the Texans practice on Saturday morning. We're approaching that groundhog day stage of camp, but that didn't stop the team from having a solid workout and competing in the mid-90s temperatures. Here are my observations from the day.
- Watching special teams work early in practice, I couldn't help but think how the change in the kickoff moving five yards forward will impact the league. On the surface, it doesn't appear that it would have a tremendous impact on teams, but the more I thought about it, this one could create changes and innovation on kickoffs that we've never seen before. I'm curious about this rule change and its impact more than anything else.
- Nathan the Texans public relations intern, you are a star in the making, my man. Just know that next time, it'll cost you two waters.
- A lot has been made of rookie center Nick Martin, but one thing most haven't noticed is his ability to work well with his guards next to him. During the team's half line run period, he and Xavier Su'a-Filo worked together on a nasty double team.
- A rookie defensive end that hasn't been mentioned a ton is Ufomba Kamalu from Miami. He flashed a couple of times on the day. During that half line run drill, he got kudos from coaches and players from shocking and shedding a lineman quickly and forcefully. Later in practice, during pass rush one-on-ones, he completely bent a tackle backwards as he bull rushed to the quarterback.
- With only five tight ends in coach John Perry's meeting room, each guy gets a ton of reps in the team's varied offensive sets. As such, there perhaps is no group that gets as many reps throughout practice. One guy in that group of five that's gotten more and more "attaboys" lately is Eric Tomlinson. If you've been to practice, you've seen him; the hair gives it away. But, in that aforementioned half line run drill, Tomlinson got Coach Perry's attention when matched up on the team's outside linebacker. He's done a better job catching the ball as well in one-on-ones and team drills.
6, The half line drill was made for rookie D.J. Reader. I'm not sure I've seen many defensive tackles that can not only stay strong versus the double team, but push back against it. I saw him do that in a rep today. He has continued to impress.
- Safety Eddie Pleasant has been in Houston for five years and I'm convinced that his cover skills improve each and every year and from practice to practice. It's a near impossibility to try to stay with Akeem Hunt in the passing game, but Eddie P. stayed locked in that hip pocket in one-on-ones today.
- Linebacker Brian Peters had a couple of standout moments during the day on defense. He knocked away a pass intended for Lamar Miller deep down the field and later in the day, he came up with a solo tackle for no gain in a team drill. The hole opened up wide and he was the only defender available to make the play and he did.
- Socks update: Charles James wore...wait for it, wait for it...CHEESEBURGER socks today. That was a wise choice, but I will admit, whenever I saw him, I was salivating. That's what not eating breakfast does to you.
- On the field, though, James continued to win in one-on-one situations. He ran the route for one of the receivers on one rep and forced a no throw, which is rare in wide receiver/defensive back one-on-ones. I wrote his name down three other times throughout the rest of practice.
- The same can be said for fellow cornerback A.J. Bouye. I'm not sure there was a pass completed on him today. He's been locked in all camp long.
- Brock Osweiler threw a dime on a backshoulder fade to fellow Arizona State Sun Devil Jaelen Strong. Sweet throw on time and the right choice to make that throw too.
- Fellow quarterback Tom Savage threw a beautiful fade ball to Tevin Jones. I mean, beautiful. There was about a six inch spot for that ball and Savage put it right into that spot. As Wesley Snipes said in White Men Can't Jump…"SO PRETTY, It's just SO PRETTY."
- The last rep of receivers/defensive backs one-on-ones, Osweiler drilled one into receiver Will Fuller. That got the crowd going in the far South corner of the stands.
- I mentioned veteran running back Jonathan Grimes the other day and he was steady again today in all facets. It's funny, more people come up to me to talk about Grimes. Most of the time the discussion goes like this "John, you know who no one is talking about?" I always answer Grimes because he's usually the one people are thinking about. Someone mentioned to me today that he seemed like the perfect type of coach's player, that any coach would love having him around. I agree 1000 percent.
- One of the best collisions of the day was between linebacker Brian Peters and Alfred Blue. Those two met in the hole and the pads definitely got a workout, that's for sure.
- Trying to throw short on cornerback Kevin Johnson is not going to work out well for an offense. The offense has tried that on a number of times throughout camp but to little avail. He broke on a quick screen to receiver Cecil Shorts and arrived at the same time the ball did. His ability to play off, anticipate slightly and break on the short stuff is outstanding.
- Cornerback Kareem Jackson had one of the best pass break ups during team drills on a deep inside route to Will Fuller. As the ball was about to hit Fuller between the one and the five, K-Jack timed up his break perfectly to break up the pass.
Check out the best fan photos from Saturday's #TexansCamp practice.
- Defensive lineman Dan Pettinato got my attention twice in a row. He had a strong pass rush to get into the quarterback's view on one play. The very next play he beat the offensive line down the line of scrimmage for a tackle for no gain.
- During special teams, the guys were working on a blocking drill for kickoffs. Rookie K.J. Dillon received a ton of praise for not only executing the drill well, but for his desire to strike. He and Kurtis Drummond collided and got Coach Larry Izzo more excited than usual.
- The same could be said for rookie linebacker from North Carolina Shakeel Rashad. His hit during the drill got the attention of Izzo and head coach Bill O'Brien.
- "Shak" had an excellent day. That special teams moment was a big one for him, but he made plays in the passing game and a play or two in the run game as well. Rashad is one smart dude and he knows and understands this defense way better than a rookie is expected to know it.
- Running back Tyler Ervin got some reps with the ones today and he flashed the wheels that have been talked about for a while. He's one of the few backs I've ever seen in a Texans uniform that can bounce a run to the outside and still beat defenders to the edge/sideline. The flip side of that is the holes close quicker inside and that's taking a little adjustment period for him. But, all in all, he's one to watch next weekend at San Francisco.
- It's clear that tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz has improved greatly in the passing game. He seems so much more comfortable catching the ball at every level on the field. He hasn't found DeAndre Hopkins like hands yet, but he appears more reliable in the passing game.
- I had a discussion with former Texans offensive lineman Chester Pitts a few weeks ago about techniques in pass protection and the sort. I could've talked to him all day long about it, but it's interesting to see veterans like Jeff Allen use some of those techniques that Chester talked about in his pass protection during one-on-one work. If I haven't said it already, I like this guy a lot. He's a football playing dude.
- Center Nick Martin does not get bull rushed in pass rush one-on-ones. I've seen a number of defensive linemen try it and not get far with it. Brandon Dunn tried to bull Martin and he didn't get very far with it.
This past Thursday, we had over 4,000 Fan Club Members at NRG Stadium to enjoy training camp and get a first look at the 2016 Houston Texans!
- Inside linebacker Max Bullough came through with another solid practice, especially in pass coverage. He had three pass breakups per my notes and has improved so much in coverage over the three seasons that he's been here in Houston.
- The best throw of the day had to be Brock Osweiler's laser shot to Pro Bowler DeAndre Hopkins in the back of the end zone. Hopkins worked the back line of the end zone and Osweiler threaded the needle in red zone seven on seven. That ball had some sauce on it and Hopkins snatched it for a touchdown.
Tomorrow will be here before we know it and i'll have more observations for you then, everyone. See ya then.
The Houston Texans roster in photos.