We did the math on Texans Monday. Today is the 14th of August. The Texans play on Sunday August 27th in New Orleans. That's 13 days. In those 13 days…
Four days - Players days off
Two days - Walkthroughs
Four joint practice days with the Dolphins and Saints
Two games against the Dolphins and the Saints.
In that time, there is only one practice remaining in training camp that includes JUST the Texans. And, in two short weeks, this training camp is all over. Wow, that snuck up on me, but that's the reality and that reality probably has clicked in for a number of players attempting to make this squad. That made day 14 spicier than most so let's dive into my Harris Hits from yesterday's practice.
It took six plays before the first TRUE fracas of training camp took place. Now, I will admit that I couldn't totally see the particulars on either side. But, I do know that rookie LB Henry To'oTo'o stood up a running back in the hole on that play. Immediately, my pal Andre Ware said to me "Man, did you HEAR that?" That was To'o To'o, but I don't think he was the one that started the brouhaha. When it started, though, it took off like moths to the flame. In two seconds, EVERYONE was in the middle pulling people away, grabbing folks and there was a player, bless his soul, who just decided to jump up on top of the pile. I couldn't help but laugh, really. I'm not a big "You gotta start fights in practice!!" guy. It just disrupts everything and it takes a few minutes to calm everyone down and get back to the real reason you're there - practice! But, it happened and we got that one out of the way.
When we got back to the action, DB Jimmie Ward came up with another pass breakup, one of probably a dozen or so that he's had since training camp started. He's been really active this training camp and these two safeties are ALWAYS around the ball. ALWAYS. Ward and Jalen Ptire are constantly creating mayhem anywhere and everywhere on this field.
On the final play of that team period, DB Eric Murray arrived near the line of scrimmage on a run play to stop it before it could really get started. After the play, just a few plays after the fracas, Murray showed some intensity and celebrated with some fervor. This was a theme, seemingly, in practice on Monday - intensity.
On the first play of the second team period, the defense brought some heat on QB C.J. Stroud. There was one more player rushing than the offense could block so C.J. tried to throw off his back foot to the sideline. He didn't have much on that fastball and it allowed DB Steven Nelson to pick it off. That was a GREAT play by Nelson and one that Stroud learned from for the rest of practice.
A few plays later, Stroud responded in a big way. He hit FB/TE Andrew Beck on a nice throw in the flat. Then, he dropped a dime, and his best throw of the day, two plays later.
He had WR Robert Woods on a corner route in the end zone. Woods got a step or two on the defensive back, but that's a tight angle for the QB to not only get it into that spot but have enough on it to not allow the DB to get back in phase. Stroud threw one with the perfect arc, velocity and touch to the back corner. Woods reached out and snared it and then…pop…pop, got both feet down in bounds for the touchdown. PRET-TAY. That was so pretty!!
What was also pretty was Mills finding WR Alex Bachman down in the red zone as well. Mills reached back for the fastball on that one. Bachman circled up in the zone between two defenders and as he did, Mills cocked to throw and fired right between the one and the four on Bachman's jersey.
On the next play, Mills threw from the right hash to the left sideline for a completion to WR Tank Dell. That's a LONG throw to say the least and Davis put it in the one spot for Tank to make the catch.
But, the defense had seen enough. On the next play, Mills threw another GEM of a pass down the seam to TE Teagan Quitoriano who had LB Jake Hansen draped all over him. Mills gave his guy a shot and put the ball, somehow, in the vicinity. Hansen then tipped it up for fellow LB Garret Wallow to make the interception in the end zone.
On the next play, recently signed QB E.J. Perry executed the same play that Stroud threw a TD to Robert Woods in the back corner of the end zone earlier in the drill. This time, though, it was Perry to Tank Dell who caught the exquisite throw from Perry for the touchdown to end that team period. All three quarterbacks threw it well during that team period, no question, minus Stroud's interception to Nelson.
This late into camp, though, each side has developed some tells and DL Jonathan Greenard used those clues to break up a screen that he's seen a time or two this training camp.
So, C.J. Stroud went over the top of Greenard on the next throw, ripping one to WR Nico Collins on the near sideline for a completion. The blitz pickup on that throw was NICE as well to allow Stroud time to get the ball to Nico.
On the next play, Stroud hit WR Noah Brown on an out route and, again, got great blitz pickup and protection to have time to throw the completion.
On the next play, DL Kurt Hinish just exploded everything in his path. I wrote down "93 KILLED that play." He just flew upfield and the center couldn't do much about it, honestly.
The DBs strapped up the receivers a few plays later as they forced Davis Mills to hold the ball for about five to six seconds with no one anywhere near being open. STRAPS…as the young kids say.
I liked seeing the Texans run game today. There were some concepts that I saw today that either I haven't seen before or haven't seen in quite some time. OC Bobby Slowik was right in front of me and I kept wanting to dap him up for all of those varied runs.
But, Stroud and Mills kept dealing through the air. Stroud drilled a slant route to WR Robert Woods just in front of the charging DB Jalen Pitre. Then, Stroud completed a pass to Nico Collins on a slant vs. the blitz. C.J. was quick and decisive against that blitz, for the most part, throughout today.
Even the incompletions were solid throws from the quarterbacks today. I mentioned one earlier that Mills threw in the end zone that got tipped up for an interception. That one could easily have been a TD throw and catch. On this subsequent play, Mills had TE Nick Vannett down the seam and it looked like there was no room at all as LB Jake Hansen was in TIGHT coverage. But, somehow the ball snuck through to Vannett but Hansen knocked it away at the last second.
Team period number four was a monster 24-minute period to end practice. One of the best plays was a run from Devin Singletary who got a great block by recently acquired OL Keaton Sutherland. The former Aggie star locked up LB Christian Harris and wouldn't relinquish him. As such, Singletary cut off of that block for a significant gain.
When WR Xavier Hutchinson has the ball in his hands, man, he can really go. He turned the corner right in front of us and showed some JUICE before getting bumped out of bounds on one play during this mega-period.
WR Steven Sims has made some seriously impactful plays the past few days. On Sunday, he turned a short screen into a show of his explosiveness. He burst through the tunnel all the way to the end zone in a quick minute. Today, he ran a double move - hesi and go - on the cornerback and was wide open in the end zone for a touchdown toss from Davis Mills. The blitz pickup was stellar. The right side of the line - RT Austin Deculus and TE Mason Schreck properly accounted for the blitz, amongst others and that allowed Mills to throw to Sims easily for the six.
Once the offense got down in, or near, the red zone, Stroud faced an all out blitz. He dished out to Nico Collins before the blitz could get to him and Collins made one guy miss before sprinting into the end zone for the touchdown.
A few plays later, I'm telling you DB Shaquill Griffin LAID OUT, a full-out dive, to break up a pass on the opposite sideline. That was a FULL OUT DIVE to knock that one away. This was a symbolic play as to how competitive this practice was to say the least.
Two plays later, Mills worked his scramble drill rules to find WR Alex Bachman. The cornerback to the far side saw Mills start to move and lost his eye discipline for a split second. In that second, Bachman took off for the end zone. Mills saw this and uncorked one for Bachman for the easy TD.
And, that's going to do it until Wednesday when the Miami Dolphins come into town. That should be fun, informative and important to see a team of that caliber here in Houston. Can't WAIT!!