We had some visitors on Wednesday as the mighty Miami Dolphins came to visit for joint practice day number one. That is one talented, long and athletic group on that sideline and a couple of their best didn't even get on the field today. That said, one Texan stole the show…literally. So, let's get to my Harris Hits from Wednesday.
At the beginning, I'll start at the end. I don't know that I've seen an ending to practice quite like the one that happened today. The Pick Six Heard 'round Houston. The final drill of the day was a team end of half situation and Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa threw two DIMES on the first two plays of the drive to set the Dolphins up in field goal range. With 30 seconds or so on the clock, he dropped to pass again, with his eyes down the field on the right side. DB Jalen Pitre played a hunch that Tua would do that to freeze the defenders on the other side but come back his way.
Pitre was exactly, 100% correct and made Tua pay, taking that throw to the house the other way.
I was standing right in line with that throw, so I could see Pitre squatting and feeling for the route. Pitre took off in front of that slant before Tua even turned to look that way. He broke on the pass AND THEN Tua threw it. Pitre played that so perfectly. He knew the situation and knew that Tua likes those slants/glance routes, especially in that situation. He broke in front, snatched it and headed south.
What a way to end that practice!!
I wasn't totally sure how to feel about the entire day. Some good and some bad, but that one play lit up the entire fanbase, the players, the coaches and the entire sideline. I mean, it was a raucous ending. The entire team ran down to meet Pitre in the end zone and celebrate as they should have. I didn't watch much of the defense at all today, so that was really the extent of my viewing, for the most part, but I'll be damned if it wasn't the perfect ending to the day.
Like I said, I spent most of my time with the offense for all drills, with a little defense mixed in, but not much. I was curious to see how the Texans OL would hold up against a WILDLY talented Dolphins defensive front.
One of the first reps that got me charged up was rookie center Juice Scruggs facing one of the largest human beings I've seen on a football field - Dolphins DT Raekwon Davis. OH. MY. GOD. That dude is a beast. So, Davis jumped offsides immediately out the chute and I remember thinking "Oh man, he's twitched up today." This is going to be rough for Juice. Uh, wrong. On the next snap, Scruggs anchored and locked up the hulking Davis on the first rep in a joint practice ever for Juice. I was pumping my fist after that rep.
One rep prior to that one, veteran OL Shaq Mason locked up Zach Sieler in a one-on-one. Mason puts absolute clamps on Sieler on that one-on-one rep.
Now, Davis would get his revenge, stuffing the first Texans run of the day in team period number one and Sieler batted down a C.J. Stroud pass later in team period number two. But, in that one-on-one session, the Texans interior dudes won handily.
Dolphins OLB Bradley Chubb is built like very few pass rushers I've ever seen. He's agile and quick and his bull rush was on point today. That said, Texans LT Laremy Tunsil got him hooked a couple of times in the run game throughout the practice, which sprung RBs Dameon Pierce and Devin Singletary a few times.
Former Dolphin/current Texans OL Michael Deiter had two or three solid reps in one-on-ones, holding up against bull rushes a few times.
I went over at that point to watch the defensive rushers and the first rep that I saw was Texans DL Khalil Davis working a swim move over the Dolphins RG for a win. But, the most impressive rep that I saw on either side today was Texans rookie DL Dylan Horton. He EXPLODED off the snap right into the chest of the Dolphins LT, then he immediately ripped inside with his right arm and got totally free to the QB. That was highly impressive.
(as an aside, I was studying TCU defensive players for the 2024 NFL Draft late last night and Horton just went off in that game, posting a sack and TFL in the first half against Texas. So, when I saw him again this morning, I was reminded what a specimen he truly is.)
Texans DL Byron Cowart flew upfield past the Dolphins center for a win. I could hear the Texans DL and coaches really pumping up Cowart after that rep. He got on the edge of the center immediately and charged upfield into the QB's lap.
Veteran Texans DL Maliek Collins threw one of the nastiest spin moves that I've seen. He spun around so quick and fast that he torqued himself right into the ground. He was wide open to the QB after the spin, but couldn't maintain his balance. I mean, he did a damn whirlybird it was so fast.
Then, Texans DL Jerry Hughes deked upfield and darted back inside CLEAN for a sack.
The aforementioned Texans DL Khalil Davis had another strong rep, finishing late on his rush just when it seemed he was blocked. Then, a few reps later, he had a solid spin move to win. Man, there must be something about those Nebraska guys - Collins and Davis - those spin moves were super nice.
Texans rookie DL Will Anderson Jr. came with some power on the two reps that I saw. He first got slowed down by one Dolphins LT, but on the second, he actually, and I've never seen this, fell to his knees on his bull rush yet never stopped moving the tackle backwards. He slipped on his rush at some point, but he had displaced the tackle to a point that he got right back to his feet and kept powering the tackle back into the QB.
I went back to watch the end of the Texans OL/Dolphins DL and caught Dolphins DE/OLB Jaelen Phillips dominating the edge on a Texans OT. Now, let me say that won't be the last OT this season that falls prey to Phillps and his impressive pass rush abilities. He's going to "GET" everyone he faces. He's an absolute menace. Phillips and Chubb are flat out nasty on the edge.
There was a little bit of jawing once the horn sounded to end the OL/DL one-on-one drills, even coming from some guys that weren't practicing. Nothing resulted from it, so all good natured fun…I guess??
Once the team drills started, the Texans offense showed plenty of POP in the run game. That was the one thing that I really took out of today. The run game opened up some open lanes throughout the day. The pass game had to work for everything it got today, though.
It started well with QB C.J. Stroud throwing nicely to FB/TE Andrew Beck out in the flat for a completion off the bootleg action.
The next play was one of my favorites of the day. At the line of scrimmage, Stroud stood and studied the defensive set for a while. I wasn't sure whether he was sure of what he saw or what, and it was just curious to me. Then, he signaled something to his offense and that was echoed throughout the offense. He then handed the ball off to RB Dameon Pierce who blew through a massive hole on the left side of the formation. Not totally sure what C.J. saw, but he got the team into the proper play for sure. THAT'S quarterbacking.
On the next play, Stroud ripped one to TE Dalton Schultz on an over route. He put that ball on the money for sure.
RB Dare Ogunbowale hit an inside run WIDE open. I mean, that was a gaping hole in the middle of the formation and it was the cleanest run throughout all of training camp.
OH, man, I'm so happy Dolphins LB David Long Jr left the Titans. Holy cow. He made life miserable for this Texans offense at times on Wednesday. He timed up his blitzes perfectly. He ran through on zone plays for TFLs. Thank god that we don't have to face him anymore up in Tennessee. THANK YOU DOLPHINS!!
Dolphins DT Raekwon Davis came up with another sack, a coverage sack, just before the Texans exploited the edge on an outside run. Laremy Tunsil pinned one of the Dolphins edge players back to the inside, which allowed Devin Singletary to burst off the edge for a long run.
Stroud JUST missed on the next two throws. He threw with Dolphins in his pocket space to Xavier Hutchinson on the over route and Nico Collins deep down the field. He was a hair off on those throws, but I liked the timing of getting rid of the ball better today. The Dolphins speed QBs up for sure and have the secondary to strap up the receivers. This was a tremendous test for the Texans offense for sure.
Stroud then hit TE Dalton Schultz with a quick hitter with a blitzer barreling down on him from depth. That was one heck of a throw.
On the next play, Stroud was forced out of the pocket and threw complete to rookie WR Tank Dell. It would've been a sack because the pass protection dam broke wide open, unfortunately, allowing Dolphins in the backfield from everywhere.
Davis Mills then came in and threw a DIME on an out route to WR Johnny Johnson III for a completion. That might have been Mills' best throw of the day. Unfortunately, he threw a pick to Dolphins LB Andrew Van Ginkel two plays later on his not so best throw of the day.
The next series of offensive plays…blitz/throwaway, drop, tipped pass, DPI, Kohou PBU. In other words, not as successful as earlier in practice. Thankfully, recently acquired QB E.J. Perry stepped in late in the drill and threw a beautiful out route to WR Jalen Camp. Perry got that throw off thanks to a solid blitz pickup by RB Gerrid Doaks.
Once the Texans went to the red zone for team drills WR Tank Dell went OFF. He had a touchdown off of the scramble drill on the far side from Stroud. Then, he got open on the corner route for a TD from Davis Mills. That was a DIME throw and catch.
The catch of the day, though, was in that same drill when Stroud moved to his right and found TE Dalton Schultz in the end zone. Stroud was hurried so he got rid of the ball off platform and he wasn't as accurate as he normally is. Schultz reached out and snagged the pass with one hand for the touchdown. That was TRULY impressive.
Then, on the final play of the red zone team period, Stroud went back to Dell on a similar corner route for Dell's third touchdown of the period. That's right, THREE TDs in that period for Dell and a great way to finish that red zone drill.
Stroud then led his team down the field in an end of half situation drill. He hit Robert Woods over the middle and then Steven Sims for a quick catch-and-run to help set up what would've been a half-ending FG. Then, it was time for Pitre to save the day.
That sounds like a great place to stop for the day. I'll be back for tomorrow's action with more of a focus on the defense for sure. See ya' then!!