The Texans took to the field for the last time before an off day on Tuesday. No pads, but PLENTY of competition and everything that goes with it. Here are my Harris hits and thoughts on the day.
The return of second-year safety Justin Reid was the biggest early story of the day and a welcome sight. I don't say that as a knock on any of the rest of the safety group because it's played well in Reid's stead, but it's more about how important Reid is to this TEAM. He's become a leader in the back end in a short time. Beyond that, he's a playmaker who always finds his way around the football. He lived up to that playmaking moniker as he snagged an interception off a Deshaun Watson tipped pass late in practice in a team drill.
Today's practice was one laden with situations, which is one of my favorite aspects to training camp. Two minute. End of game. Special teams. You name it, they hit it today.
One of the first drills of the day was an end of half/end of game situation. On a fourth down throw, quarterback A.J. McCarron launched one to the left sideline and receiver Stevie Mitchell wiggled free to go up and snatch the ball and get out of bounds. That kept the drive alive and the offense scored a play or two later.
The first play of that drill, McCarron eyed tight end Jerrell Adams down the field, but rookie defensive lineman Charles Omenihu showed his jumps and knocked it down. Adams was open too so Omenihu saved a big gain for the offense before Mitchell made his catch on fouth down.
When the units flipped sides of the field, quarterback Deshaun Watson went to work. The throw that stood out the most was one to DeAndre Hopkins on a dig route across the middle on third down. Watson took his drop and sold an out route with his eyes and then got back inside to find Hopkins. Dime time.
Watson then scrambled to the right and found Will Fuller V for a sliding catch for another first down.
On the next play, Watson threw quick to Hopkins and I'm telling you that ball was coming directly at me on the sideline. Then, THHHHUUUUMPP, Hopkins stuck out his right hand and just snatched the rock like he was a superhero stopping a bullet. He didn't get much on the play, but the way the ball finds his hands and doesn't leave is supernatural.
The next play was as gorgeous as it gets. Watson eyed Hopkins on a corner route in the end zone, over the top of one defender, in front of another. It seemed as if Hop was covered but those two are so dialed in that Watson let fly to the absolute perfect spot. Just beautiful. The timing of the play. The route. The throw. The catch. The double tap. Perfect! Absolutely perfect. The defensive players just looked at each other with a helpless "what can we do?" sort of feeling. As I write that, I keep seeing that throw and catch in my mind and that's not a bad thing.
Watson wasn't the only quarterback slinging today. A.J. McCarron threw a few beauties throughout the day. A seam throw to Jerrell Adams on a third down in situational work. A pinpoint out route to rookie Tyron Johnson who double tapped for the touchdown. Quick outs. Short stuff. Intermediate gems. McCarron has been consistent, and on point, throughout camp. He'll have a great showcase at Green Bay in less than a week.
On that touchdown throw to Johnson, it happened on the right side of the field, right in front of me. More importantly, it was on the side where the offense was standing. A few of the defensive backs, disappointed with the, uh, ref's call, were reminded that a close play is "always a touchdown on that side of the field."
With Lonnie Johnson Jr. banged up a bit, it was great to have cornerback Bradley Roby back on the field today. He's had some excellent moments in coverage, including one in which he was in man coverage on speedy Will Fuller V.
Wins come in all forms, especially during training camp, when it seems competition is behind every single door. At one point on a situational drive down the field, the defense moved its front and got the offensive line to flinch for a five-yard procedure penalty. That five yard walk-off had every guy on the front seven celebrating as if they sacked Andrew Luck.
On fourth down of that period, Watson scrambled for a first down and on the subsequent first down, he found an open Stevie Mitchell for another first down. It was interesting to watch Mitchell on that play as he didn't so much run a route as run to find an open hole in the defense. Watson threw to a spot and Mitchell made the catch.
On the next play, Watson threw a dime to Tyron Johnson for a touchdown to give the Texans the win, errrr, I mean, the offense a win. Okay, so the situation had the Texans behind by five with just over a minute left. Watson hit Johnson for six and then hit DeAndre Hopkins for the two-pointer to take a three point "lead."
Stevie Mitchell made a brilliant catch on a crosser in which he beat man coverage. The throw was behind him and he reached back and corralled the ball for a first down catch. As I look in my notebook, I see his number and the words "complete" a fair number of times.
Defensive back and special team savant Johnson Bademosi is well known for his work on special teams, but he flashed some cover skills today knocking away a pass intended for the receiver he tracked down the sideline.
Cornerback Aaron Colvin has made a number of plays in coverage in the slot during camp. He looks different, completely different than he did last year at this time. He's playing with patience. He's moving fluidly. He's breaking on the ball when thrown. It's comforting to see him compete at this level as he knew he could.
When the Texans didn't draft a running back a few months ago, plenty of people sent me mean tweets or comments or whatever asking what was going on. I'll say this now, I'm just not even worried about this group. You'll see it this week when they return on Wednesday, but this group of backs is competitive as can be - the optimum situation imaginable.
I mentioned it the first day and I'll reiterate it - punters Trevor Daniel and Bryan Anger hit complete and total bombs. It's become one of my favorite periods to watch them just hit one rocket after another. Someone tried to talk to me during that period and I kept interjecting with "DAYUM! Another one!"
Well, I'll end this with that final note on the Texans talented punters. It's a day off tomorrow for the team so no Harris hits on Tuesday, but Marc and I will have radio in both the morning and evening. More Harris hits on Wednesday afternoon. See ya then, everyone!