It's time for Green Bay. It's time to see a different colored jersey. It's time to get on the road. It's time to take training camp to a different level. It's time to play a game. Buuuuuut, before we take that next step, it's time to spit out some Harris hits from the final training camp practice before our trip to Wisconsin. Let's GO!
Immediately after some special teams and individual work, it was time for 11-on-11 goal line again. The star right off the bat was linebacker Benardrick McKinney. He rammed right into a blocker closing down the hole that the running back spied initially. He then popped the ball out and the defense recovered.
Two plays later, the defense recovered another fumble and chased all the way down the field to celebrate with outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus who came up with the rock.
On the final play of the drill, rookie running back Karan Higdon powered into the end zone from the one-yard line to give the offense a little bit of a boost after a tough start.
During linebacker-running back pass protection work, linebacker Dylan Cole was extremely difficult to block on a couple of his reps. But, running back Lamar Miller showed exactly why he is such a quality all-around back. He took 257 lb. McKinney head on and kept him from getting anywhere near the quarterback/dummy.
The best collision of the day took place during 9-on-7 inside drill. Rookie fullback Cullen Gillaspia and McKinney met each other in the hole and I didn't so much as see it as much as I heard it. That was some serious pad popping.
When the squad transitioned into team drills, they went right into an 11-on-11 drill. On the first play of that drill, the left side of the offensive line cleared the way for Miller to bang it off the edge for a big gain.
A few snaps later, Miller shook a defender in the hole to pick up another significant gain.
What stands out more than anything though as I look at my notes is "4 to 10." On an eight-play series, quarterback Deshaun Watson targeted DeAndre Hopkins all over the field four separate times. I mean, wouldn't you? The best connection was a Watson laser to Hop on a deep crossing route for a first down. That's just so difficult to stop.
A few plays after that, Watson had an hour in the pocket as the pass protection was sublime against a complicated defensive front/look. Unfortunately for Watson and the offense, the coverage was outstanding. Watson had to throw it away.
Okay, here's another PSA for the youngsters and coaches on the defensive side of the ball reading this - if the ball is EVER on the ground, PICK IT UP. No matter what. On the last play of the drill, Watson cocked his arm to throw the ball and then I couldn't see exactly what happened. I don't know if his arm was hit or he tried to pull the ball back (tuck rule) but the ball came out of his hand. Immediately, the defensive coaching staff and defenders on the sideline started screaming to pick it up. The players on the field followed through and scooped it up. Look, you never know. So, just pick it up and wait for the whistle while running the other way. Okay, PSA over.
When AJ McCarron stepped in, the very first play was really interesting. He got the offense up the line of scrimmage with plenty of time on the play clock. He noticed something and wanted to change the play. The defense then seemed to check back to another look and McCarron wanted to check to another play but the play clock was nearly at zero. He finally called a time out. It's a weird thing, but I love the chess match that takes place during a game and practice. Just seeing the cerebral jockeying back and forth was fun to watch.
Cornerback Johnson Bademosi called out the next play and came up and made the tackle for no gain.
Then, the offense took over on two 11-on-11 drives all the way down the field. Watson and McCarron both led touchdown drives over the course of the next 20 plays.
Miller got it started by staying on his zone path on a zone run and picking up good yardage on first down. On third down, Watson scrambled and found Hop for a key first down. A few plays later running back Taiwan Jones showed his juice with an excellent run off the left side for another first down.
A few plays later on third down, Watson and Keke Coutee were on the same page for a completion on a quick out for a first down. I was standing with Andre Ware watching that play and both of us called out exactly what was about to happen. I've said a few times that if you know the question, this offense, combined with the connection between quarterback and receiver, can provide the answers. As Coutee ran his route, we both exclaimed at the exact same time "THERE IT IS!" Watson threw a beautiful ball for the first down.
A few plays later, Coutee crossed the field from the other side and made a brilliant catch sprinting into the end zone.
On the ensuing drive, McCarron drilled one across the middle to Steven Mitchell for a first down that got things moving. Two plays later, though, rookie cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. came up and made a textbook roll tackle on Higdon when the latter bounced his run to the outside.
After McCarron pitched one down the middle of the field to rookie Johnnie Dixon, he scrambled out of the pocket and threw a dime to rookie Tyron Johnson for the second touchdown on consecutive drives.
Then, it was time for situations. Down two, one time out, 30 seconds left, ball at the 40 or so. Coutee couldn't hang on to the first Watson throw, but Watson went right back to him on the very next play and Coutee snatched it for a key first down.
Two plays later, safety Justin Reid broke up a pass intended for Jordan Akins on the far sideline. That got the fans pumped as Reid is a player they really like to watch.
After a Watson to Hopkins quick out, they had just enough time for a field goal and Ka'imi Fairbairn "doinked" one through for the win.
After the following series, the offense ran out of time, reaching the 37 or 38-yard line. That set up a Fairbairn 55-yard attempt. No worries. He nailed it with room to spare, right down Main St.
That feels like a great place to stop and start preparing for Green Bay. Heck, I'm packing the bags as soon as I hit send. It was great seeing all of you at practice this week and we'll have the Lions in here next week, which should be fun. But, for now, the focus is on the Green Bay Packers up in Wisconsin. See ya next week, everyone!
Check out the best shots from Day 7 of training camp in Houston.