Before setting out to practice Thursday evening, I checked the local radar and saw that storm bearing down on Houston from the northeast and thought, 'There's no way.'
I set out to Reliant Park anyway, but kept a wary eye on those dark clouds to the east. But through some atmospheric magic, everything dissipated and what we were left with was a nice cloudy and relatively cool (notice I said relatively) evening for Texans practice.
You could tell the players were enjoying it. Dressed in shorts and jerseys with helmets, but no pads, the guys had a little bit extra spring in their step as they worked out on Field 1 before another packed house full of excited Texans fans.
This practice was a little different from previous ones in that less time was spent in unit drills and more time was spent in 11-on-11.
Fans were treated to rep after rep after rep of first-team defense against second-team offense and vice versa. Third-teamers mixed with second-teamers against one another. It was truly an evening where coach Gary Kubiak wanted as many players as possible to get as many reps as possible.
With the Cajun music blaring as a backdrop, Texans fans got to see things like Jon Abbate catching passes out of the backfield, Jerome Mathis work against Dunta Robinson and Fred Bennett, and Jacoby Jones returning kickoffs.
Indeed it was a good night for Mathis, who got a lot of reps with Andre Davis and Keenan McCardell sitting out. Mathis looked like more than a kick returner Thursday night as he ran several crisp routes and showed good hands and feet on a couple of sideline grabs.
Jacoby Jones also showed nice hands on a few receptions. If Jacoby learns how to become a good route runner, he has the potential to be a very good receiver. I see now what the coaching staff saw in those all-star games over the winter.
Kickoff teams and coverage teams also got in a lot of work.
Bethel Johnson and Jacoby shared most of the kickoff return duty, with Mathis and Dexter Wynn also getting a rep or two.
Bennett, Dexter McCleon, Derrick Roberson, Jason Horton and Von Hutchins all worked outside contain during coverage drills.
The Texans ran two-minute drills to close out practice. One of the highlights of the night was when the Texans converted a third-and-long from the 25-yard line for a TD over the middle to Owen Daniels.
That strange thing you will be seeing this year is called a tight end down the middle.
A few other observations:
- A new daily roster was handed out to fans. There are 91 names on it.
- I don't like what I'm seeing with Brandon Frye. He turned his ankle about a week ago, wore a boot for a few days and is still limping. He hasn't been able to get in many reps so he will really need to start cranking it up soon.
- We can't afford to lose Ephraim Salaam.
- Nice gesture by the players to come over to the sideline after practice to sign autographs and mingle with the fans.
There are two more public practice sessions:
- Saturday, August 4, 8:30 – 11:00 am (gates open at 7:30);
- Wednesday, August 15, 7:15 – 9:15 pm (gates open at 6:15)
Dress appropriately (loose and light) and we'll see you there.
You can email Alan Burge at: email@example.com