As training camp rolls on, the Houston Texans held their second consecutive padded practice on Tuesday. Players wore their shoulder pads, but most were in shorts for another full day of work. Here are five takeaways from Day 4 of camp.
1. Moving on up
Head coach Lovie Smith has been mixing and matching first and second teams during camp, but a few rookies were noticeable working alongside the 1s on Tuesday. OL Kenyon Green, the Texans first-round draft pick (15th overall), and LB Christian Harris, third-round draft pick (75th overall), were both taking reps on first team.
"I would say normal rookie progression," Smith said. "He (Green) needs to get in there. First, it's about getting in football playing conditions. He's working on that, but now we'll continue to let him go with the ones, too. We know he's going to play for us. It's just about getting him looks, as many looks as we possibly can and that's what we're doing."
2. Getting creative with special teams
Special Teams Coordinator Frank Ross has some of the best drills to watch in camp. A few days ago, he brought out the giant gym mats for players to practice punt blocking. Players would get a running start and slide across the mats over and over. On Tuesday, Ross kicked off practice by hitting tennis balls at the returners to distract them while fielding kicks.
"He was cranking those ball like Serena Williams," Tremon Smith said. "We just got to find the ball. It helps us find the ball."
3. Iron sharpens iron
Jonathan Greenard has been a full-go at practice after missing the offseason rehabbing. Heading into Year 3, the Texans 2021 sack leader has been picking the brains of veteran defensive lineman Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison who bring 25 years of experience to the position group. Greenard says he also has regular conversations with Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard.
"Just having those talks with LT (Laremy Tunsil) and Tytus (Howard), they tell me how they would approach a guy like me," Greenard said. "They are going to have to do certain things to make me have to sit down or make me do other moves. So I just basically have to stay in my repertoire or add to my repertoire, add to my arsenal and understand how they would block me and have a better counter. It's a steady evolving game because even after I beat them with a move, I have to readjust and make another move after that."
4. Nico Collins making plays
Second-year WR Nico Collins has been making plays throughout camp, but a gorgeous catch during WR-DB drills in good coverage by DB Steven Nelson in the endzone is worth mentioning.
"That's tough duty for a defensive back," Smith said. "The one play that you're talking about, defensively, CB Steven Nelson is in pretty good position, but when you're 6-4, most corners around six feet, that's a pretty good match up for us. Nico Collins is an excellent football player. We expect him to make plays like that."
On Monday, Davis Mills spoke about his chemistry with Collins, as well as the mismatch his size and athleticism creates for defenders.
"I think we've definitely developed chemistry, and he's going to be dangerous," Mills said. "When we're on the same page and how we are on the same page, I don't think there's many people out there who can stop him."
After practice, Collins and Texans Legend Andre Johnson were seen chatting and walking to another practice field together.
5. Tytus Howard back at tackle
Tytus Howard has been lining up at right tackle throughout camp, a place where he started eight games as a rookie in 2019. Although Howard has started at multiple positions on the offensive line, including 11 starts at left guard last season, he is happy to back at tackle.
"That feels good knowing I'm playing one position," Howard said. "Yes, I'm playing right tackle. Feels good to be back out there. That's where I played most of my whole career. Feel comfortable. I'm getting better every day. I look at this year as a big year to take another step up and be one of the best right tackles in the NFL."
The Texans will hold their next training camp practice on Wednesday at the Houston Methodist Training Center. Houston will kick off the 2022 regular season at home against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Sept. 11 at noon CT.