I had that moment today that I couldn't remember what day of the week it was nor could I remember what number day it was in training camp. The grind is officially on, that's for sure. We all went inside to watch the proceedings today, which made the "don't like sunscreen" side of me very happy. Even inside, though, the Texans got a ton of work done on the day as they head into the last day of work on Monday before an off day on Tuesday. Here are my Harris Hits from Day 4 - yeah, I eventually figured it out.
The first day of pads was Saturday, but the first one for J.J. Watt was today and he looked like the J.J. Watt we've always seen. I don't ever want to take his greatness for granted, but from the first rep of the day, it was clear that he was prepped, poised and ready to bang the pads for the ninth time in his NFL career.
When Watt and Seantrel Henderson face each other, it's a collision that sounds unlike any other two human beings. On the first rep of pass rush drills, the two behemoths collided like tanks in a head on battle. Whoo.
If we gave out daily training camp awards like Grammys, tight end Jordan Akins would get a best album Grammy after his work today. The tight end group is still waiting for rookie Kahale Warring to be activated from PUP and Jordan Thomas has been out the past few days. So, Akins is getting an extended opportunity to create synergy with Deshaun Watson. He made the best catch that I've seen at training camp thus far, snagging a one-handed gem on a crossing route for a first down in live 11-on-11 work. Then, on the very next play, he burned up the seam and snagged a touchdown pass over the top of a safety. Because those two catches came on back-to-back plays, it may have glossed over his work throughout the day, but it shouldn't have. I honestly stopped writing "4 to 88 - complete" in my book as it happened all day long. What I love about it is that Akins just acted as if every snag was just another catch and he came back to the huddle ready for the next play. Really fun to watch today.
I mentioned defensive lineman D.J. Reader yesterday in this space and he's been excellent, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention fellow defensive lineman Angelo Blackson. I noticed him yesterday, as always, but he continued to be a problem for the offensive linemen on Sunday. His technique looks tighter. He looks a bit slimmer, yet quicker and more agile. I just came away impressed with how he takes on and defeats blocks vs. the run. He seems to do that even better than he did last year when he did some excellent work on the defensive line.
The Texans announced the signings of safety Tyvis Powell and linebacker B.J. Bello yesterday. One thing that really stands out as I watch Bello is how quick and ultra-aggressive he is attacking the football. When he read run today, he took off like a shot after the football. Powell caught my attention in coverage a few times so I like the opportunity for him to compete during training camp/preseason games.
As much as I want to see rookie excellence, all I really want to see is a rookie take coaching, absorb it and turn around and apply that teaching/instruction the next rep/next day/next game. That's where true improvement happens and I really saw that from both Tytus Howard and Max Scharping on Sunday. It's not going to be perfect this early in anyone's career, but I saw things that needed work on Saturday, coached out of them during film sessions and applied on Sunday. I thought Howard's pass rush 1-on-1 reps were as good as they could possibly be and one thing I noted about Scharping was how much quicker he's been than what I remember when he was at Northern Illinois. Just keep it up, boys.
Safety A.J. Moore got a ton of reps today with Tashaun Gipson and Justin Reid out for the day and he's making significant strides. His 1-on-1 coverage was solid and it's clear that there are things he's still working on daily. But, I thought it was interesting that Bill O'Brien discussed the impact A.J. can have on this team in 2019.
Coach O'Brien also mentioned running back Josh Ferguson after OTAs and that Ferguson made an impression on the coaching staff. It's clear why. He's quick as a hiccup and one heck of a receiver out of the backfield. Watching him run routes on linebackers, my gosh, he got on linebackers so fast that he was open throughout the day.
Linebacker Xavier Woodson-Luster did have two pass breakups during that period and one when he was covering Ferguson as well. Fellow linebacker Tyrell Adams had a pass breakup on a short route that nearly no linebacker can cover adequately.
Tight end Jerrell Adams stepped in today with a number of catches in all competitive 1-on-1 and team drills.
One of my favorite plays happened on a third down during a team scrimmage drill. The problem is that it ended with a turnover. But, here's why I loved it. Quarterback A.J. McCarron was at quarterback and the defense blitzed off the edge. I can't remember who it was, but he had a wide open pass to McCarron. Tight end Darren Fells read it perfectly, knowing he was the hot receiver on that play, so he immediately altered his route. McCarron drove it to Fells without the blitzer even touching him. Fells made the catch and ran for a first down, but the defense responded by punching the ball out and recovering. There was so much good on that play but the finish has to be there. Fells is a veteran; he knows. That won't happen in the future, but I love how the offense was completely on the same page vs. the pressure look the defense threw at it.
With a 90-man roster, there aren't a ton of 1-on-1 pass rush reps to go around so typically everybody just gets one up and down the line of scrimmage. But, when defensive lineman Charles Omenihu got the best of guard Martinas Rankin on their rep, Rankin asked to go again. Both coaches - Mike Devlin and Anthony Weaver - said absolutely and Rankin cleaned it up on the second rep and held strong against the rookie defender.
Outside linebacker Brennan Scarlett has been asked to do a lot for this team over his four years and he continues to improve as a pass rusher. He flashed some juice, quickness and power as he rocked the tackle he faced during his 1-on-1 pass rush.
The offense had a productive day throwing the rock, mainly to the tight ends. During the final period, a team 11-on-11 drill, linebacker Zach McKinney had seen enough. He sprinted right in front of a tight end in coverage and nearly came up with a pick, forcing an incompletion.
On the play prior, safety Jahleel Addae broke up a pass intended for Jordan Akins. The defense gave up some plays earlier in practice, but buckled down in that final drill for certain.
On quarterback Deshaun Watson's final play of the day during the aforementioned team session, he read an edge blitz perfectly, throwing a dart to Keke Coutee who read the same thing. THAT right there is the kind of thing this offense must be able to do - be on the same page, see the same thing through the same set of eyes. That really has been a consistent theme, for the most part, with Deshaun and his receivers throughout this camp and he and Keke showed that on that third down conversion catch.
Well, the weekend came and went. Think of it this way, by the time you read this, it'll be less than a week from the Texans heading to Green Bay to practice/play the Packers. The players have one more day tomorrow before a much needed day off, but we've got you covered all the way throughout on this site and all our social media channels as well. See ya tomorrow, everyone!
Check out some of the best shots from the fourth day of training camp in Houston.