Despite the Houston Texans regular season being in the rear view mirror, last week Texans fans had two more chances to experience game action. The Reese's Senior Bowl and Pro Bowl both took place and HoustonTexans.com provided in-depth coverage for both events.
The two events couldn't have taken place in more different locales, spanning opposite sides of the United States. Both also served different purposes for the players involved, providing a nice contrast for football fans who wanted to watch today's current stars (Pro Bowl) and the game's future players (Senior Bowl).
In Mobile, Ala., 105 of the nation's top college seniors took the field at Ladd-Peebles stadium, getting the unique opportunity to practice and play in front of NFL personnel. Played since 1950, the Senior Bowl has morphed into one of the key events of the college and professional football calendar, almost an unofficial kickoff to the upcoming NFL draft. Actual NFL coaching staffs are at the helm of the 'North' and 'South' squads, with this year's teams headed up by the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Atlanta Falcons. Texans head coach Bill O'Brien and other team personnel were on site evaluating the prospects in attendance.
As for the prospects, the two biggest standouts should be familiar names to Texans fans. On the offensive side, Fresno State's Derek Carr (brother of David Carr) was praised throughout the week, while Auburn's Dee Ford took home the game MVP honors. Carr, whose brother elicits immediate opinion from most Houston fans, showed himself a top prospect in his own right. He was consistently mentioned as a player that 'improved his stock' during last week's Senior Bowl festivities. Ford, who put up big numbers for the Auburn Tigers a year ago also played well, with Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley complementing the talented defensive end.
"I think that all it takes is one team to really like him, and I think that Dee is exciting," Bradley said. "I really like his personality. I like his spirit. He loves the game, and he showcases that on the practice field."
Below are links to some of the top stories on HoustonTexans.com from the Senior Bowl.
Across the country in Hawaii, the NFL's top players took part in the Pro Bowl, the league's annual all-star event. This year's version featured drastic changes, both to the team's composition and how the players were chosen. This year's theme was 'unconferenced', as the two squads were chosen via draft. NFL legends Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders picked the teams while also serving as head coaches. Texans J.J. Watt and Duane Brown participated, with Watt serving as a captain for 'Team Sanders'.
Also on the scene was voice of the Texans Marc Vandermeer, who took on the tough task of traveling to Hawaii to cover the game. Vandermeer got a chance to talk with both players, among others in attendance, shedding light on everything from offseason plans to opinions of the Texans new head coach. You can listen to all audio from the event here.
As for the game itself, Watt did what he normally does, which is put pressure on the quarterback. Perhaps the most memorable moment of the game came after Watt sacked Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, as he unveiled a new sack 'surf' celebration. Watt, who customarily does a salute after getting to the quarterback, instead opted to catch a wave, fitting considering the backdrop of the matchup.
Below is a list of stories, photos and videos that can catch you up on everything that happened in Hawaii.