The 2016 Houston Texans defense allowed the fewest yards per game in the NFL.
On Tuesday at the Houston Methodist Training Center, the 2017 version continued to look stingy.
"Every year is different," cornerback Johnathan Joseph said. "But after the way we finished the season last year, when you get back out here on the field you rebound off how the year went the year before and just try
to get better."
The veteran corner said the squad was bolstered by the return from injury of defensive end J.J. Watt, as well as safety Kurtis Drummond. The former said he "felt awesome" after Tuesday's work, while the latter picked off a pass in 11-on-11 work.
"When you start to add some of the guys that were missing last year, and you throw is some of the new draft picks and the rookies, that's the way you start to build your football team and figure out the guys that want to be here," Joseph said. "When you come out here in the OTAs section, guys push one another and go out here and compete, and that's a way you form a cohesiveness and a bond to kind of get to where we want to be in training camp."
That cohesion remains, according to Watt, despite the elevation of Romeo Crennel from coordinator to assistant head coach and Mike Vrabel from linebackers coach to coordinator.
"I think it's great," Watt said. "I think I've said all along, to have a guy like Mike come in who is so knowledgeable and so experienced is great. It's very good for us. But then also to have RAC (Romeo Crennel) out there every single day and still coaching and teaching guys – to have two defensive minds like that – and then with the assistant coaches that we have, we are very fortunate."
The team practiced for two hours, and head coach Bill O'Brien liked what he saw. But he also pointed out that September and the regular season is a far cry from what happened on Tuesday.
"It's OTAs, it's no pads so it's not real football," O'Brien said. "It's a chance for you to come out here and work on certain things like the passing game and conditioning and things like that – different drills to try to get better individually and as a unit in all three units."
The Texans will practice again on Thursday, and then start their second week of OTAs next Tuesday.