The second day of Lions-Texans practices went off without a hitch. No dustups. No confrontations. If I'm being honest, it's too hot to even think about talking trash, much less getting in any sort of practice scuffle. That said, it seemed as though the Texans turned up their own heat and got some really good work done on Thursday. Here are my Harris Hits from the last practice before the second preseason game on Saturday night.
When the teams decided to co-mingle, they went straight to an 11-on-11 team drill. Right out of the chute, quarterback Deshaun Watson, behind a well-constructed pocket, lasered one to DeAndre Hopkins. A few plays later, Watson found tight end Darren Fells out in the left flat wide open for another completion.
The last offensive play of that period featured one of the best catches of the two day session with the Lions. Wide receiver Jester Weah had a Lions defensive back on his hip pocket but quarterback Joe Webb III launched one downfield near the sideline. Weah went up over the defensive back and stole the ball away from him for the first-down catch.
While I'm here comparing catches, receiver Vyncint Smith made a really impressive catch over the middle later in a situational team drill. I know that Vyncint posted a tremendous vertical leap during his pro day at Limestone back in 2018 and he needed every inch of that vert to go up and snag one across the middle. That got the fans pumped as Smith climbed the ladder for the first-down catch.
Overall, I thought the Texans were excellent throughout the day, but the procedure penalties and a few offsides penalties have got to be eliminated (and will be). Okay, back to the action.
The Lions had fewer moments running the rock at the Texans defense today than yesterday. During that first team session, inside linebacker Zach Cunningham shot the gap and shut down a run in the A gap that gave the Texans some issue on Wednesday.
That said, I know there are plenty of fantasy players out there so here's a non-Texans tip - go get you Lions running back Kerryon Johnson in fantasy. If he stays healthy, he's an excellent fantasy sleeper for that offense. Okay, advice over, back to practice.
The Texans perimeter guys took part in red zone 7-on-7 against the Lions defense. How successful was that period? Watson and Webb III completed seven straight passes and nearly every one went for a touchdown.
What I loved seeing about that period was the quick decisions that Watson made to get the ball out of his hands in a hurry. I mean, he got the snap and ZIP the ball was out.
Watson drilled one to Fells to start and then one to Hopkins on an inside route.
Then, Watson went to his big second-year tight end Jordan Thomas. The first one was easy as the Lions cover guys got caught up in the chaos of the route. The second one was brilliant from both Watson and Thomas. The tight end was essentially being faced-guarded by a Lions linebacker. So, Watson drilled one to Thomas knowing that the linebacker couldn't react in time or completely get his head around. The linebacker disrupted the pass a bit but Thomas just stole it away from him for the touchdown. I mean, snatched it right from him. That's the big fella we need in this offense, especially down in that area of the field.
The final play of that Texans red zone drill featured a tipped, juggling, two tap needed catch by Chad Hansen. Pretty catch and excellent footwork to get both of them in bounds.
I stole some glances down to the Texans offensive linemen during 1-on-1s while watching the Texans quarterbacks and pass catchers in the red zone. Rookie Max Scharping handled some power with his rep and didn't yield much ground to the quarterback. Zach Fulton lined up at center again with Greg Mancz and Nick Martin both nicked up and handled the bull rush well. Tackle Roderick Johnson continued to be consistent with his pass sets and protection. His improvement has been impressive throughout this training camp. Rookie Tytus Howard doesn't seem to ever get pushed back on a bull rush and when a Lion defensive lineman tried to bull him, it got shut down in a quick minute.
Then, the team came together for 11-on-11 red zone and the Texans defense dominated the action. Here's a play-by-play of my notes for each Lions play in the red zone:
Shut down the run
99 (J.J. Watt) blew up run
9 (Matt Stafford) to 33 (Kerryon Johnson) on slant route: five-yard gain
Nothing open - good coverage - incomplete
4 (Josh Johnson) to 84 (Travis Fulghum) - 23 (Johnson Bademosi) with great coverage - Incomplete again
Then, the Lions first unit came back in and the first two plays were a coverage sack and what would've been another sack for J.J. Watt (it ended with a pass breakup for Jahleel Addae on rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson).
When the Texans got the ball, the first unit couldn't punch one in, but Webb III threw a dime to rookie fullback Cullen Gillaspia who got both feet in bounds for the touchdown reception.
One of the most impressive things I saw all day long happened on a quick screen to DeAndre Carter on the following 11-on-11 drill. Carter made the easy catch and turned to follow his blockers up the field. He was moving at a fairly fast clip yet in front of him was guard Senio Kelemete HAULING you-know-what in front of him blocking the safety 20-25 yards downfield. I mean, Senio was MOVING and putting in major effort to spring Carter for a BIG play, not just a nice gain.
Carter was the featured guy right off the top during that team drill. Watson looked him up the first three plays of that drive on three different routes, all went for completions.
Then, the Lions offense took the field and the Texans defense picked off two of the next four passes. Rookie Chris Johnson was at safety and read Stafford's eyes perfectly, snatching the first interception on a throw over the middle. Then, fellow safety Addae came up with one on a Stafford overthrow. Two picks in four throws? Not a bad pick percentage.
During the final team situational drill, Carter made another brilliant play. The situation? Fifty seconds left, no time outs, need to score a touchdown. He caught a pass about 12-15 yards downfield, near the top of the numbers. He immediately shook a guy and took a hard right turn to sprint out of bounds. The amount of time he saved with that simple move was so valuable. He hasn't been back for long but Carter had perhaps his best day of training camp today.
Alright, that'll do it for today. Saturday night will be here in a blink and I can't wait to see this team in action. See ya then, everyone!
Check out the best shots from Day 14 and the first joint practice against the Detroit Lions in Houston.