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Harris Hits: Training Camp Observations Day 13


After a long trip back from New England/Providence, the Texans had a shorter walkthrough type practice on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday's workout was anything but a walkthrough for the most part. The pads went back on and it was time to bang and get after it in front of a raucous throng of Texans fans.

The LOUDEST cheer, one that could've been heard WAY across the street, occurred about halfway through practice. QB C.J. Stroud dropped to throw and had WR Noah Brown on a post route DEEEEEP down the field. Stroud crow-hopped his way through the pocket and LAUNCHED a throw that was flat out majestic. This gorgeous parabola made its way through the air into the waiting arms of Brown for an explosive deep play, something the Texans have lacked in their offense the past few years. Man, that was some throw and it was dropped into the bucket, i.e. Brown's waiting arms, so beautifully.

Overall, though, this was a day for Stroud's fellow first round pick DL Will Anderson Jr. to take the stage. Back in June, I remember hearing GM Nick Caserio say there were times in OTA/minicamps in which they needed Will to not go 1000% mph. Well, that isn't the case at training camp as he flies around CONSTANTLY. As such on Sunday, he ruined a large number of plays throughout the day. The offense can't run at him as he just eats that up. He beat the RT on a pass play a little later in team drills with a bull/yank that was nasty and would've been a sack for certain. He literally DOVE to stop RB Dameon Pierce on a run play at one point. I mean, I have "51 dominated" or a version of that five times in my notebook. There might have been more too, but Will Anderson Jr woke up on Sunday wanting all the smoke because he was just as ready to unleash on the Texans' offense. Man, seeing the practice back in my head, I just can see him everywhere, doing everything.

The other defender that the offense struggled to slow down, especially in the run game, was DL Maliek Collins. My goodness. Plays run at him? He clogged up blockers and wrapped up the RBs. Plays away from him? He got cross face and sprinted the play down from the backside. Healthy Maliek makes ALL the difference in the world for this defense as evidenced by today's workout (and many other instances too).

DB Jimmie Ward is not about to let others step on his fun either. WR Noah Brown caught a quick screen and it was blocked up pretty well right in front of me. Then, out of nowhere, Ward came flying in and put his shoulder right on the football, knocking it loose. The defense scrambled to make the recovery. I can't tell you how MANY times Ward has done that to the offense in training camp already.

Ward nearly came up with a pick as well a little later in practice. He made a TREMENDOUS break on an in-breaking route to WR Tank Dell. As the ball arrived, so did Ward. He couldn't corral it but he broke up the pass attempt to the speedy Dell.

QB Davis Mills had one of his better throws in training camp on a bootleg to the right side of the field. He rolled toward our sideline and there was NO ONE open. The defense had it bottled up very well. But, Mills held it for as long as he could until there was just a shred of an opening to TE Nick Vannett on the sideline. Mills, on the run, lasered that throw to Vannett who was open just enough to make the catch. Wonderful throw by Mills and great catch by Vannett.

Mills had another beauty earlier in the practice when he hit newly acquired receiver Adam Humphries on a deep over route. That ball was dropped in the bucket to Humphries who never broke stride on the long catch and run.

Humphries seemed to be a quick study and will fit into this receiver group nicely.

There was ALMOST a skirmish on the sideline today after a Devin Singletary catch. C.J. Stroud couldn't find any receivers open downfield, so he wisely checked it down to Singletary. But, LB Christian Harris is as fast as any linebacker in the NFL. When the ball was released, Harris took off and he hit Singletary with the intention (I think) of just striking, but not tackling, Singletary. Harris' momentum, though, carried him through the tackle, to the ground, out of bounds. Singletary was HOT. He got up and squared up, balled his fists and I thought it was GO time! But, teammates got in front and stopped the short fracas. Head Coach DeMeco Ryans said "Finally!" when he met with the media after the practice. There's been plenty of fire in these workouts, but no fights yet. That was close. Then again, Miami's coming here on Wednesday and joint practices ALWAYS produce some, uh, action.

Mills ripped one complete to WR Tank Dell against man coverage on the far sideline but the story on that play was the blitz pickup that gave Mills a bit extra time to make that completion. Love seeing the blitz pickup done properly.

LB Blake Cashman is a thorn in the side of the running backs in pass coverage. He was man-to-man with Mike Boone on a pass route a few plays later. Mills saw that matchup and tried to throw down the sideline to Boone but Cashman was step-for-step with the Texans' RB. Cashman leapt in the air and knocked away the pass. There are few speedier linebackers in the league and very few who could make that play. Cashman has made a habit of locking down RB in pass coverage in these training camp practices.

Although LB Christian Harris would've ended up with a sack, C.J. Stroud threw a BRILLIANT pass to TE Dalton Schultz.This time, the offense didn't pick up the blitz but that throw to Schultz was a DIME.

It was good seeing rookie DL Dylan Horton back at practice the past couple of days. He shut down a run play off the split zone game. He destroyed the block, shed the blocker and eliminated any running room on the play. A little later in practice, an Andrew Beck-Horton collision was the loudest pad popping that I'd heard all day. That was a super-collision on a run play.

Mills ripped a fastball down the middle to rookie WR Xavier Hutchinson for a big first down. That ball had some SPICE on it for sure.

The offense seemed to get stuck in mud during the final team period, but Mills finally completed a pass to TE Mason Schreck for what I noted as a good play in my notebook. 

Then, Mills linked up with WR Steven Sims on a screen. That wasn't the sexy part of the play. THAT part came when Sims hit the gas, set up his blockers perfectly and gashed the seam all the way to the end zone. Sims was MOVIN"! He got a clean alley and hit it with ALL of his juice for a TD from about 35 yards out.

Mills finished up practice with an easy toss out to TE/FB/Weapon X Andrew Beck for a touchdown. 

All in all, it was a day in which the defense stood tall, but the offense got up off the mat a few times to make some impactful chunk plays, in particular. Miami is coming, but there's one more practice before we get there on Wednesday. The Texans have a workout tomorrow then a day off before locking horns with the Dolphins for joint practices at the Houston Methodist Training Center on Wednesday and Thursday. Can't WAIT!!!

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