Getting Battle Ready | Vandermeer's View

It was defacto Battle Red Day at Training Camp presented by Xfinity for the first time ever. We've never had one this time of year and fans loved the Battle Red Helmet. Based on in-house and reaction on social media, this is a huge hit. And the H-Town shirts that the team was wearing were pure fire.

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The red is another reminder that we are truly in a new era. Lovie Smith is already loved by the fans. He poses for pics and signs autographs after practice. He addressed the fans prior, on the P.A. system.

For a man who has been a head coach for over a decade in the NFL to be this accessible, to 'get it' like this, it's refreshing, unusual and a true treat for Texans nation.

People always ask me how the team is doing. I have to say I love the 'vibe' around this bunch. I was just saying this on the air this week. Then Kamu Grugier Hill tells me "the vibe is great." Then I talked with Andre Johnson and he told me how much he liked the vibe around here. It's a thing.

We all know the most important thing is what happens between the lines. I saw Rex Burkhead on a running play 'run it out' to the end zone. He's a ten year vet who was drafted in the sixth round. He can still play but it's also what he brings on the intangible side that makes him valuable. If you're a young player you need not look much further than him for an example to follow.

Same with Brandin Cooks. After practice I noticed him taking extra jugs machine reps. The best athletes know that there's no substitute for extra practice and preparation.

It's year one for Smith as head coach but it feels like year two, based on the fact that he was here last year crafting the defense.

Smith's side of the ball in 2021 ended up in the top third of the NFL in takeaways and this year looks to take another step forward with added talent. It's hard not to notice players like Rasheem Green and Jerry Hughes along with the returnees and the rookies looking comfortable in the system.

Going a long way toward improving the defense would be seeing them rest on the sideline while the offense grinds up clock. We haven't seen the Texans in pads yet but everyone is eager to have a look at the ground game with Marlon Mack and rookie Dameon Pierce added to the mix.

This time of year the defense is supposed to be ahead of the offense. If your offense is shredding the D then you likely will have problems preventing touchdowns later. Davis Mills and the pass catchers are taking good care of the ball while building a consistent attack.

Plays are being made and it's obvious that Mills is eons ahead of where he was this time last year when he was quickly baptized during camp and had to take the controls at halftime of week 2.

There's a long way to go. We're still two weeks away from the preseason opener. So far, it's a productive start.

Check out photos from the second day of Houston Texans Training Camp presented by Xfinity.

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