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Harris Hits: Texans-Dolphins joint practice #2


It was another sultry day at the Houston Methodist Training Center and another one with the Miami Dolphins. Here are my Harris Hits from Day TWO with the Dolphins in H-Town.

I spent the entire day watching the Texans defense, in all facets, against the Dolphins offense. I walked out of the practice today feeling about as good as possible about the Texans defense. During one-on-ones, I focused on the defensive line and pass rushers against the Dolphins offensive line, so I missed all the fly boys doing work one-on-one. But, I'm going to start with something that I didn't see in person.

As I finished pass rush one-on-ones, Texans executive director of player personnel James Liipfert walked past and asked how DL/OL looked. After I relayed my quick thoughts, he said "wait until you see Sting running the route for a WR in one-on-ones". Oh, you had me at hello, Liip. About an hour later, our Texans social media team posted that exact play and it was exactly as Liip had said, the WR tried to work inside Sting and the Texans DB just plastered to the WR and matched his every move. So smooth, so impressive.

My overall takeaway from the day was that the Texans defense had control of the action throughout and it was only when Tyreek Hill was on the field that the Texans gave up any significant yardage through the air, in particular. What the Dolphins do with Tyreek is so unique because of his insane explosiveness and speed, but when he was off the field, the Dolphins struggled to find their footing against the Texans defense. Hill had two to three plays that riddled the defense down the field and fellow Dolphins WR Braxton Berrios got loose, as he did yesterday, deep for one long one. But, other than that, it was tough sledding for the Miami offense against the Texans defense.

I started the day watching the Texans DL v. Dolphins OL and one consistent theme was how much trouble Jonathan Greenard gave the Dolphins edge protectors. He was slippery, powerful and showed a ton of technique in his rushes. On the first one, he just slipped past the OT, slithering underneath the tackle's outside pads.

Credit where credit is due, though; Dolphins guard Robert Hunt is a manchild. He quick set interior rushers for the past two days and shut them right down in their place. I mean, what an impressive interior OL! A little later in team drills, he put a Texans DL right on his wallet on a run play. He just stood over him shaking his head like he couldn't believe someone would try him. Dude is a monster and one of the most underrated OL in the NFL. He was the most impressive Dolphin this week not nicknamed Cheetah.

On the next one-on-one situation, Texans DL Roy Lopez ran the Dolphins center right into the QB. Roy got on an edge and just rode it hard all the way upfield. HARD all the way upfield.

Two asterisk play incoming…Texans DL Will Anderson Jr. first rep came on the right side of the defense, directly in front of me. He gave a little deke outside and then WHOOSH, he ripped back inside for a clean win to the QB. Oh. My. Again, my heart was a-flutter.

The spin moves were on point today. Texans DL Jacob Martin threw an inside move that gave me shivers on his first rep.

Texans DL Byron Cowart threw perhaps the most violent club move on a guard, which opened up a lane for him to jump inside and make a play on the fake QB. I heard the "THUMP" when Cowart connected.

Then, it was time for Texans DL Chase Winovich to use his spin move to get to the QB cleanly.

As soon as Texans rookie Dylan Horton exploded out of his stance, I heard "GREAT GET OFF!!" a couple of times from different people. Horton is a whirling dervish of power, hands and athleticism. I'm telling you I can't wait to see him for extended periods in the game on Saturday. His individual pass rush reps have been money this training camp.

The Dolphins centers didn't have a great day in one-on-ones, in particular. Texans DL Kurt Hinish went by one of the Dolphins' centers, and when I say went by, I mean, he sped past the center who almost didn't even get out of his stance. A few reps later, well, Kurt wasn't about to take any stuff from the Dolphins OL. He likes to use that inside arm to bear hug and hip toss the OL, but this time he used that right, inside arm like a club. He kept throwing that club…WHAM…WHAM…WHAM on the ribcage of the OL until he turned and allowed Hinish upfield. Once the play was over, the Dolphins OL had something to say to Hinish and the two squared off! It was broken up quickly but when a Texans staffer walked up and asked me what happened, I said "93". He goes "yeah, shocked." #SarcasmFont. Hinish is one feisty dude.

I had a chance to catch up with Texans DL Khalil Davis today after practice and he is a great interview. He's forthcoming about how he wins up front and I loved talking to him about his mindset. He won a lot, again, today in one-on-ones. He just kept coming with power and hands for one win, then he threw a spin move ala former Nebraska star Maliek Collins, for another.

Speaking of Maliek, he completely dominated the edge of one Dolphins' interior OL for a sack. He hit that outside with a hard club/rip under and he got clean to the QB.

Roy Lopez Jr. finished the drill just flying by on the edge of a Dolphins OL. I'm not even sure the Dolphins OL got a hand on him. That was an apropos way to finish that drill.

When the Dolphins O and Texans D went down for Red zone seven-on-seven, the Texans back seven went to WORK. Sting forced an incompletion on the far side on the first route. Then, Jimmie Ward knocked the ball out of Dolphins RB Raheem Mostert's hands for a PBU. After a coverage sack, Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa was forced to hold the ball for at least four seconds before a checkdown to his WR (with a Christian Harris love tap mixed in)

It took six plays for the Dolphins to have a positive result but on play six, they had a REALLY positive result, unfortunately. Dolphins QB Skylar Thompson threaded the needle to rookie TE Elijah Higgins for a TD in the back of the end zone. That was a dime.

On the next throw, Texans DB Desmond King II broke up a late throw on the sideline to Dolphins WR Braxton Berrios. 0 on 0 violence.

The next play was an even better Desmond King II result. All the receivers were strapped so Thompson threw to the closest one. That just happened to be King II who intercepted the pass from Thompson.

On the next play, Dolphins QB Mike White nearly threw a pick six to Texans DB D'Angelo Ross. Ball hit him RIGHT in the hands. He just couldn't corral it for the interception. He was beside himself that he couldn't pick that off and rightfully so.

White got his revenge on the next play, hitting, you guessed it, Tyreek for the touchdown. I watched him the whole way and he ran a little hesi, nod route in the middle of the field and got wide open. He's so darn quick that as soon as he shook everyone and floated into the end zone, he had five yards of separation. Then, White threw another seed for a TD to his rookie TE Julian Hill on the next play. Texans LB Neville Hewitt was in perfect position, but somehow White got that ball into Hill for the TD.

But, White couldn't find an open receiver on the final play of the drill, one that the Texans defense seemingly took charge until those TDs near the end of the period.

During the first team period, Will Anderson Jr made his presence KNOWN. On the second play of the period, he was the backside defensive end on a run away from him. He ran that thing down, slicing through the chaos and WHAM, stuck the running back for a short gain.

Then, Tyreek, happened again. The Dolphins use so much movement, before AND after the snap, that it's easy to get going one way and then be naked on the other side as Tua Tagovailoa pulls the ball out on a bootleg. That's what he used to get to Tyreek in the far side flat as he crossed the formation, against the flow of defensive traffic.

On the next play, I don't know exactly what Texans rookie LB Henry To'oTo'o saw, but right before the snap, he gestured MADLY to the rest of his group. He moved a couple of players into a different position and the Dolphins ran right into that defensive look. I've seen Henry do that a few times and the coaches have seen him do that even more times.

Then, the two fastest Dolphins gashed the Texans. Tyreek got open on a deep over route for a completion, a long completion. Then, Dolphins rookie RB Devon Achane squirted out the back door on a sweep that he cut back for a SMOOOOOTH long gain. Those two dudes are so electrifying.

Dolphins WR Braxton Berrios looks like "just" a slot WR, but his ability to get deep on the Texans showed itself again in this team period. He tracks the ball extremely well on deep routes and showed that on the deep catch today, like yesterday.

Then, Tyreek ran the same route he ran in the Super Bowl with the Chiefs four years ago. The Chiefs called it WASP, but it's essentially Hill driving like he's going to run the deep over or a deep post, then he pivots and comes right back out the way he came in. He left the secondary and was wide open for a long catch. That was really the last play that Tyreek made as he didn't participate much more in the practice. The Dolphins offense seemed to struggle as a result.

On the next play, To'o To'o deciphered a toss run play and burst into the backfield to make the TFL, tagging off on the RB's hip. Talk about shot through a cannon, my goodness.

Then, Hinish and Khalli Davis stuffed an inside run together. Davis followed that up with a sack, or what would've been a sack, on Dolphins QB Mike White.

White found his rookie TE Elijah Higgins in the flat on the next play, but Texans LB Cory Littleton struck him hard and knocked the ball loose, which sent the Texans sideline into hysterics. I'm pretty sure that everyone on that sideline screamed "BALL!!!!" together.

Then, on the next play, I just wrote "STRAPS" in my notebook. That's my shorthand for when the Texans DBs lock up opposing receivers.

When the Dolphins then moved into the red zone, Texans LB Denzel Perryman lodged the ball loose from a Dolphins TE at the five yard line. GREAT play.

After the Dolphins got down to the three yard line, Texans DB Jalen Pitre absolutely stoned a RB at the goal line with a goal line tackle reminiscent of Justin Reid on Leonard Fournette in 2019. Just wasn't going to let him score.

Then, Jon Greenard and Khalil Davis teamed up on a TFL and I wrote in my notebook "Nothing for Miami" The Texans defense kept that up for the next four plays. Incomplete pass. QB enveloped in the rush. 42/35/32 teaming up to stop another Miami run short of the goal line. A whole bunch of not much for the Dolphins offense.

Unfortunately, Miami ran a pristine bootleg with White hitting his WR wide open for a TD on the last play of the period.

At the start of the next period, Tagovailoa nailed a PRETTY seam route to TE Durham Smythe and then went into uptempo mode, rushing to the LOS immediately after the catch. Tua went back to the same route to WR Robbie Chosen and Texans DB Derek Stingley Jr. ripped it right out for another PBU. Tua threw incomplete on a half roll the next play. Then, a WR dropped an on-target pass. The rest of the period was a combination of incompletions, checkdowns and penalties.

Texans rookie DL Ali Gaye shut down a zone read play beautifully down on the goal line, just as he was coached to do. He saw the mesh point and shuffled inside. When he saw for sure the RB had the ball, he was in position to just strike and wrap up for no gain.

A blitz on the next play NEARLY got Texans DB Grayland Arnold a pick, but he just couldn't hang on. So close, but another win for the Texans defense.

Then, each offense got another shot at a situation - this time it was a 4th quarter, down by seven, needing a TD situation. Neither offense was overly efficient. The Texans defense didn't give up but one downfield completion. It forced Tua to checkdown to Raheem Mostert on five of those 11 plays that did get the Dolphins in field goal range, not TD range.

The Texans offense went next and C.J. Stroud hit three completions in a row, but then the Dolphins defense clamped down on the Texans ending the drive before the 50-yard line.

So, all in all, I was really pleased with the success the Texans defense had on Thursday. When Tyreek was off the field (and Jaylen Waddle too), the Texans didn't give up much at all to the Dolphins. Like I said, I didn't watch the Texans offense but all indications were that it wasn't the best day. Regardless, it was GREAT WORK over the past two days to say the least. Now, the proverbial lights go on Saturday afternoon. Can't wait!

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