Walking up to the Houston Methodist Training Center this morning for our last Texans Training Camp Live morning show, I was convinced that we'd see a fast paced, yet carefully constructed walkthrough. Uh, I couldn't have been more wrong (which my wife would say is par for the course)
And, all of it was extremely fun and constructive. So, let's dive into my Harris Hits for the last time before the preseason game against the Patriots (and, yes, I'll have plenty of them every day from here on to the end of the preseason, but this one closes the book on this chapter of the preseason).
On the first play of the first team period, the Texans ran play action and as QB C.J. Stroud wheeled back around and fired, the ball slipped out of his hands and nearly into the hands of DB Jimmie Ward. Stroud has proven to be so accurate with the ball to this point that when something like that throw takes place, it's clear what happened. I thought to myself, man, oh boy, is that a bad omen for this practice?
Um, not at all. Stroud started slicing and dicing a few plays later.
First, though, I saw second year OL Kenyon Green doing an excellent job in the run game against a guy who has really dominated camp DL Maliek Collins. Green just wouldn't allow Collins to get across his face as he pursued down the line of scrimmage on a run play. I just happened to follow the flow of the football to see that block by Kenyon. That was where we'd like to see Kenyon be at all times.
On the next play, Stroud, off of similar play action as the first play, ripped a throw into the belly of WR Noah Brown on an interior route. That ball had some serious SAUCE on it as Brown crossed the field. I guess my possible bad omen theory went up in smoke.
RB Devin Singletary showed the juice on the next play, slicing through the front and some openings for a solid gain. Without truly being able to see OL blocking from the much needed EZ view, I can tell when Singletary has the blocking because he hits the gas so fast from point A to point B, winding between the OL easily and smoothly.
Then, the first one asterisk play of the day. QB Davis Mills dropped and got pressure so it looked like he was perhaps trying to throw one away. He seemed to fade backwards and lofted one to the sideline, hoping for rookie WR Xavier Hutchinson to arrive for a catch. Lo and behold, he DID! Hutchinson snagged the pass before taking a hit while getting both feet in bounds. That was a tremendous effort by the rookie, showing the concentration and body control, to make that catch.
I don't know what's going on with TE Dalton Schultz and the LB and DBs but every time he runs a route in the secondary, there's a TON of talking coming from the defenders. It's all in good fun, but at the start of the second team period, Schultz ran down the seam as Stroud attempted to put one on him. It was a great throw, but the coverage by LB Christian Harris was EVEN better. He knocked it away and then started letting his feelings known to anyone who would listen. That was a two asterisk play by Harris, followed up by another one the very next play.
Stroud threw to RB Dameon Pierce on a flat route and it looked like Harris would make a solid tackle as Pierce snatched the pass. But, Harris did more than that. As they neared the ground, Harris ripped it out to force an incompletion. Harris has been all that and a bag of chips in this training camp.
But, Stroud got rolling again with an excellent read and throw to Woods over the middle of the formation for a first down on the next play. I loved the design of that play and hope that we'll see more of that as the movement of the offense helped get Woods open easily.
Man, the next throw from Stroud was, well, it could make your legs jelly. He dropped back and had WR John Metchie III on a sail route to the opposite sideline. It appeared as if DB Desmond King II was in perfect position to take away ANY throw from Stroud. He could undercut a short throw. He could knock away an inside, inaccurate throw. But, Stroud had enough velo, enough air on it and threw it to the exact perfect place for ONLY Metchie III to make a play on it and get his feet in bounds. That was a three asterisk play from the rookie QB and Metchie III to snag it and get his feet in bounds.
When it was time for special teams, K Ka'imi Fairbairn DRILLED a 59-yarder right down the middle. His career long was a 61-yarder against Seattle right before the half in 2021 and this one would've been good from 65+. He bombed that thing right down the middle.
When it was time for third down work, Stroud did an excellent job scanning for open receivers, quickly, finding RB Dameon Pierce open to catch and run for a first down.
Then, Davis Mills found Metchie III breaking out into the open for another completion and first down.
Stroud came back and threw a strike to Woods on an inside route for another first down.
On the next third down play, Stroud slid up in the pocket with the rush all around him and RIPPED a fast ball on a deep intermediate in route to Nico Collins. That ball left a vapor trail as it stuck into the chest of Collins.
A few plays later, Mills attempted to throw deep to WR Johnny Johnson III, but he couldn't quite get it out there far enough. As such, DB Grayland Arnold came from his opposite safety spot to run under it and make the interception.
The linebackers have been excellent in coverage, for the most part, in this camp and LB Garret Wallow broke up a pass from Mills to rookie RB Xazavian Valladay down the near sideline.
Remember those talking defenders? Man, they were chirping as Stroud had to scramble on a pass play. I could just hear a bunch of high pitched voices talking. A lot! I loved it.
But, Stroud got his on the next play. Woods ran a snag route and circled up between THREE Texans defenders. There was space on all sides, but that's still a route I've seen MANY QBs turn down. Stroud reached back and fired his best 99 mph fastball right into the chest of Woods for a first down. It was, not surprisingly, quiet on the defensive side of the ball after that throw. I had that as a two asterisk throw from Stroud for sure.
A few plays later, Stroud hit his guy Schultz down the seam as the big TE got a love tap from DB Jimmie Ward.
Mills came in and immediately hit Hutchinson on a crosser that Xavier juggled but hung onto as he turned up the field for a nice gain. Then, Mills drilled one to Metchie III on boot action and then hit TE Nick Vannett in the flat on a scramble AFTER drawing the defense offsides.
But, the one thing I've noticed, even amongst the talking and jawing, both sides of the ball have a ton of respect for one another. Saw C.J. and Jerry Hughes dapping each other up before finishing up a team period. We can all feel the positive vibes, even in the searing heat.
On the very first play of the next team drill, my goodness Will Anderson Jr.! He just completely destroyed a run play his way. I don't know what exactly he did to the blockers on that play as it was on the other side, but I'm sure it was not pretty. That was the Terminator in action. That was a three asterisk play that had some people just flat out giggling on our sideline because of how nasty that was. Wow.
At the end of practice the Texans worked what I call the 2022 TCU - rush field goal situation. Can't spike it at the end of a third down completion, just have to run the FG team out on the field after the completion, get set and drill it! Both Texans QBs nailed the landing perfectly with accurate tosses over the middle. Then, controlled chaos took place as the FG team ran on the field to set up as the clock wound down near zero. Recently signed K Jake Bates drilled both field goals to end the day.
That was good work and now it's time to travel up to New England to face the Patriots. Can. NOT. WAIT!! See ya then, everyone!