I love the red helmets. I think it's pretty sweet. Especially with the red jersey, it's going to look smooth. You guys like them? I would go all red, all red. LB Kamu Grugier-Hill
The Houston Texans held their second day of Training Camp presented by Xfinity. Players debuted the new Battle Red helmets which they will wear for their Battle Red game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 3.
Here are three things that stood out from Saturday's practice.
1. Lovie Loves the Red
Head Coach Lovie Smith and the rest of the Texans staff wore these new H-town shirts (which will also be available for fans to purchase) while the players wore their new red helmets for practice. Smith says he's definitely a fan of the new look.
"You probably noticed a little bit of a change appearance-wise," Smith said. "You know when you're a young franchise, you don't have a lot of throwback uniform jerseys, but for us to introduce this battle red helmet, I like the look of it. And of course, I know we're in Houston, but it's kind of H-Town to us a little bit, so it's good to give a little bit of different flavor to practice today."
2. Welcome back!
Several players suited up and practiced after missing time due to injuries this offseason. OL Justin Britt, DL Jonathan Greenard and LB Kamu Grugier-Hill were among the notable names back on the field for Houston.
"All those guys are not necessarily on a play count, but we have a plan as far as when we are going to let them rest a little bit," Smith said. "We are different with Justin Britt out there. It all starts with our center. He does an awful lot for our team. He's a good player, but again our offense will perform a lot better with Justin out there."
Greenard had a team-high eight sacks last season while missing five games. Smith is expecting big things from Greenard in Year 3, but the defensive lineman will have to ramp up accordingly.
"Jonathan is a legitimate outside defensive end in the league," Smith said. "I'm anxious to see how far he can go. Being banged up and missing a lot of the offseason work put him behind a little bit, but you see we'll continue to give him more and more reps. He's a big part have we're going to do this year."
3. Run game will be tested next week
Rookie RB Dameon Pierce and veteran RB Marlon Mack are among the new faces in the RB room this year. Pierce, selected by the Houston Texans in the fourth round (107th overall) of the 2022 NFL Draft, has peeled off some long runs and added some catches out of the backfield in the first few days of camp. Mack spent five seasons (2017-21) with the Indianapolis Colts, averaging 4.4 yards per carry and scoring 20 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 57 passes for 448 receiving yards, averaging 7.9 yards per reception, while scoring on two receiving touchdowns.
"[Dameon Pierce] is a tough guy," Smith said. "You see him work in special teams and a little bit of return game to him. He can run in between tackles and can make you miss a little bit in the open field. Again, we have about six running backs in the mix. I'm anxious to see – you know, you try not to get too excited. We're in underwear, we're in shorts right now. Monday should start telling us a lot more."
Honorable Mention: Lovie and the fans
Lovie Smith spoke to fans before practice and signed autographs afterwards. He explained why interacting with Texans fans means so much to him.
"First, I mean, I love being head coach, and they are asking the head football coach for the Houston Texans to give an autograph, I can handle that," Smith said. "It is good though. Last year with COVID, fans were a little bit farther away, but now they are here. When people take the time to show up, we talk about our team showing up, showing out, it's about the fans, too, getting involved. Some of the stories, someone drove 12 hours yesterday to watch us practice. Coming down from Canada. The least we can do is that."
The Texans players have a day off on Sunday but then return for three consecutive days of padded practices beginning Monday at the Houston Methodist Training Center.