Day ten at the Houston Methodist Training Center was the first day of game week with a visit to New England coming up in just 72 hours or so. As such, the team was in shorts/shells yet still got some good work during another scorching hot day here in H-Town. Let's dive into a few Harris Hits from Monday's workout.
At this point in training camp, I don't need a roster (well, I don't ever need one once TC starts, but I digress). What I do need, though, are the updates to the roster and there are plenty. OL Tytus Howard is going to be "out a while" per Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans. Plus, there are plenty of banged up bodies at this point, too many to name individually. But, the Texans most recently added OL Keaton Sutherland and DL Khalil Davis to the roster. Sutherland was claimed through the waiver process, while the Texans added Davis to a depleted interior defensive line group.
The Texans worked some seven-on-seven at a time when they weren't doing DL/OL drills, so I could FINALLY watch in full. YAY!! The overall aspect I took out of the whole drill was how quick the QBs decision making was in the red zone. I don't know that the coaches told them to do whatever they're going to do QUICKLY and DECISIVELY, but that seemed to be the message. The QBs did NOT hold the ball long down in the low red zone, in particular, at all.
On the first rep, QB C.J. Stroud got heated up early. He hit former Buckeye Noah Brown between the eight and five for a catch down to the two yard line. Again, quick, decisive throws are NECESSARY in that area and C.J. was on it.
The next play was the same - a rope to TE Dalton Schultz for a similar gain. Quick. Effective.
Then, Stroud threw a fade route to Schultz who was covered by DB Shaquill Griffin. Shaq stayed in phase throughout the route and made that a tough throw. C.J. threw it high to avoid Griffin's potential pass breakup and overshot Schultz just a bit but in a spot where if Schultz didn't catch it, no one would. Still, quick and decisive, just a bit off the mark.
One asterisk play alert - on the next series of downs with Davis Mills under center, rookie LB Henry To'oTo'o had an outstanding breakup on a well thrown (again, quick and decisive) ball to TE Nick Vannett. I saw it happen right in front of me and then on the video board and I'm still not even sure how To'o To'o prevented the catch, but he did. PBU!
Mills threw a rocket laser shot to rookie WR Xavier Hutchinson on the glance route but it appeared as if DB Darius Phillips got a hand on it for a PBU…I think.
One of Stroud's best throws of the day was one that didn't result in a touchdown. He threw to the back corner of the end zone where only rookie WR Jared Wayne could make the grab. He did, but he was just out of bounds…allegedly. Both officials looked at one another and weren't quite sure. It would've been reviewed, I have a feeling. Regardless, it was one heck of a throw and catch by the two rookies.
On the next play, Davis Mills went to Wayne in the middle of the end zone wide open for a touchdown. Again, as I mentioned above, the focus seemed to be on QUICK and DECISIVE in the low red zone. That was a DART from Davis for the TD.
After that play, I heard someone on the defensive side of the ball, could've been players, could've been coaches, reminding the defense that they needed to COMMUNICATE! "Where's the communication, guys?" That's been a word that a lot of the defensive guys have discussed during this training camp. It's been paying off too, but in this seven-on-seven, the offense was having success against the defensive unit.
LB Neville Hewitt saved a touchdown with a pass breakup in the middle of the end zone. He wouldn't let TE Mason Schreck box him out and reached over to swat the ball away.
The next couple of team periods featured a ton of runs until we got to situations. But, Stroud connected with Tank Dell on a two asterisk play just before that occurred. Stroud ripped one to Tank on the sideline on a deep out route. Just as Tank made the catch and turned up the field…THWACK! DB Jimmie Ward decided he'd seen enough and put the rookie on his wallet. I'm chuckling at the remembrance of seeing Tank hitting the deck after Ward, with no pads on, made his presence known.
Today's game situation drill - there was 2:30 on the clock, one time out and the game tied at ten. Stroud's first throw was nearly picked by LB Christian Harris. It was sort of a sign, in some sense, as the offense bogged down over that series of downs.
Davis Mills came in and took the team down the field, scoring a TD at the end of the drive with nearly no time on the clock. He hit Steven Sims to start the drill who stepped out of bounds in the process, giving the offense one more play before the two minute warning. That allowed the Texans to toss to Mike Boone for a first down on the next play before the two minute warning.
So, from a situational aspect, the Texans were able to run two plays, pick up 12-14 yards before hitting the two minute warning. That's a solid drive start for Mills and company.
Just after the two minute warning, as the defense jumped offsides, Mills threw to Steven Sims down the field who couldn't quite hang on for a big play. Then, Mills hit Tank on the deep out route right near me for a first down and Dell got out of bounds. With 1:48, the Texans smartly slowed the clock by running the ball to see if they could pop one.
As the clock eventually went under 20 seconds, Mills threw a direct shot at the pylon. It didn't look like it had much chance as it was right near me again. But, Jalen Camp burst in to make the catch…or did he? He held on but the official on the spot said he didn't have his feet in bounds. That would've gone to the booth upstairs for sure. No review? No TD, no worries.
Two plays later with 11 seconds in the half, Mills found Camp for real this time and a touchdown. That was a tremendous Mills drive all the way down the field for seven, leaving just seven seconds on the clock before the end of the half.
On the final team session, DB Derek Stingley Jr. made one heck of a PBU on an out route on the opposite side of the field.
One of the best plays of that period was a D'Angelo Ross pass breakup on Tank Dell. It was a great throw by QB Case Keenum and it looked like Tank had the catch. But, at the last second, Ross reached in and popped it out for an incompletion. That had great all-around written all over it.
Later in that drill, Stroud came back in and threw to WR Robert Woods on the sideline for a pretty completion. But, my heart was in my shoes before C.J. threw that pass. I was watching Will Anderson Jr. lined up over Laremy Tunsil. Will went with about the low-ridingest-low-rider rip move under Laremy I've seen. But, he was so low that he lost his balance and all I could see was Will's momentum carrying into Stroud's legs as he completed the pass. Somehow, Anderson landed and rolled out of harm's way and I breathed a sigh of relief. I found myself getting tense as I wrote that observation. My goodness.
The last play of the day was one of the most physically impressive plays I've seen from Stroud and WR Nico Collins. Stroud was forced to scramble to his right but he kept his eyes downfield. Sprinting to his right, he saw Collins and threw back across his body to the middle of the field. Immediately, I was like "NO!" but he had that throw on a ROPE! Nico reached out with one hand and slowed it with his big right paw and then corralled it into his body for a tremendous catch. I mean, WHAT? That was impressive all the way around.
Okay, one more practice until we head to Providence! See ya tomorrow, everyone!