The first week of OTAs take place next week and for those wondering what the difference between OTAs and practice is, well, honestly, there's not much difference. It's essentially a practice session without the pads and the hitting. Now, there isn't much of an inside 9-on-7 drill either, but they're similar on a number of levels. As such, I'm pumped to see the 2017 squad, or the initial makeup of the 2017 squad, take the field. Here's why.
I've always loved watching Tom Savage throw the football. He throws the prettiest ball I've seen in this town since Warren Moon.
When I moved back to Houston and first went to practices in the late 2000s, I couldn't wait to see young defensive backs attempt to cover legendary receiver Andre Johnson. It's the same way I feel watching DeAndre Hopkins against youngsters now. When will Treston Decoud get a shot at Hopkins in 1-on-1s? That will be as important for Decoud's development as much as anything else.
I want to see Deshaun Watson in action in a Texans jersey. Only then will I actually believe he's a Texan. For me, it's been sort of surreal to think of him as a Texan, but it'll become real when I see him throw the pill next week.
J.J. Watt and Kevin Johnson returning to the Texans defense is significant, even though there's no telling how much either one will do in practice action.
The rookies are usually a bit lost in the beginning, but typically there's one or two of them that start to make an impression early. Stephen Anderson was one of those guys last year, so who will it be this year?
When second-year players take that next step, it can be significant. We got to interview a bunch of them during Texans media days and it was clear that they appreciated being one rung up from rookie status. As such, there will be one or more that takes a significant step toward being a top-five player on either side of the ball, displaying the fruits of offseason work in OTAs.
The receivers are now coached by John Perry, a tremendous coach who did great work with the tight ends the past three seasons. He's moved over to coach a still relatively young group of pass catchers. The addition of Wes Welker to the coaching staff, though, cannot be overstated. His experience in the slot will mean the world to Braxton Miller and others competing for playing time. Welker can also impart his inside slot knowledge upon DeAndre Hopkins, who made life miserable for defensive backs when he aligned there last year.
Nothing really can separate the right tackle competition at this point of the year, but the candidates all know that the position is wide open with no Derek Newton available at this point. That's going to be an intriguing and important competition all the way into late August, but it begins next week on the field.
Rookie Zach Cunningham is a unique chess piece in this defensive puzzle. Out on the field, he looks like a safety at times, but we'll start to get a feel for how he moves and can fit in this defense.
Man, I really want to see some pass rush 1-on-1s, but that'll have to wait until the Greenbrier.
That should get the pump primed, which is a phrase I've used for a long time... just in case you were wondering. I'll have some observations from OTAs beginning next week. See you then.