Day eight was a fun one at the Houston Methodist Training Center. Ballplayers flying around. Offense making some PLAYS! Defense not backing down in return. Let's take a look at the Texans' day at the Office with my Harris Hits from Day eight.
I love when I can start with the OLine and the DLine. It was one-on-one day and I left the WR/DB and the RB/TE/LB down at the other ends of the field. I focused on the big fellas today. The most impressive DUDE in the O Line and D Line drills was OL Tytus Howard. He went four reps, if I recall, and he just was a brick wall…a dadgum mobile brick wall, for every rep.
DL Will Anderson Jr. threw everything he had in his pass rush arsenal at Howard and the former Alabama State star countered everything Anderson did. Howard held up against long arm moves and bull rushes. But, he countered Anderson's spin moves as well. That was potentially the best I've seen Howard look in those drills…ever.
The defensive star was DL Maliek Collins. I feel like Maliek's rush game has gotten better as he's gotten older. I'm not sure that's the way that life is supposed to go, but he's so football violent with his hands, but he's also so violent with his movement off the ball. He doesn't ease off the ball. He's bursting off the snap with power, and quickness, consistently. He won every single rep in his one-on-one situations.
OL Shaq Mason is one of my favorite dudes to watch because I don't know how a man that size, that build moves that effortlessly…YET, has the power and strength to hold up to bull rushes and power moves. DL Hassan Ridgeway has thrown more than his share of OL dudes out of the club in this training camp, but Mason got his leverage underneath Ridgeway and stoned the big fella for the first time that I could recall at this 2023 Training Camp.
That was a ferocious battle, but I loved seeing the technique used on both sides. It wasn't just two damn behemoths throwing hands at one another. I really loved that battle.
Then, DL Roy Lopez went up against rookie Juice Scruggs and I thought Roy's power and leverage would be a bit of an initial shock to Scruggs' system. On the first rep, I was right. Roy got under Juice's pads a bit and his quickness was more the thing that Juice had to adapt to on the fly. On the second rep, I was wrong. Scruggs didn't allow Roy to get on his edge, staying square on Roy and anchoring against his power. THAT was impressive to see the adjustments from the rookie. Again, I liked that battle.
DL Jacob Martin has not only NOT lost his juice as a pass rusher, but he seems to be even quicker and more adept since returning to the Texans. He's always been a guy that could flash that speed, combined with his cadre of moves off the edge. But, he's seemingly even quicker. He threw a spin move today that, just, wow, I really could do nothing but say WOW!
I like seeing OL and DL using different techniques. OL Austin Deculus used a quick set on his former LSU teammate Ali Gaye and I couldn't remember seeing that before from him. It seemed to establish the momentum for Deculus to win that rep.
On the next rep, Deculus faced DL Chase Winovich who tried to spin inside on Deculus and the hulking tackle slid with it and stayed square on Winovich to slow him down.
OL Jimmy Morrissey had a tough rep against Maliek Collins, but who didn't, honestly? The reps before that last one, though, were really good, in my opinion. He faked flashed his hands to get his DL to commit on his first rep and it worked beautifully. He got the DL to commit to his move a bit early and then Morrissey anchored on him and locked him up big time.
I have some illegible writings about Kurt Hinish and Michael Deiter. I do remember those two having a more than interesting tete-a-tete a few times during the day. Hinish is sneakily powerful, but Deiter held up to that power a couple of times. That was the perfect combination - a couple wins on either side.
DL Roy Lopez Jr. hit one interior lineman with a strong shock/yank for a clean win after he got another shot at the OL.
DL Derek Rivers has so many moves. He threw a ghost/rip move on one rep and he was skimming the ground without hitting the ground. That was freakin' masterful. But, on one rep, he tried to use that long arm on former Auburn product rookie OL Kilian Zierer and the rookie held up about as well as could be asked on that move against Rivers.
DL Jerry Hughes didn't have but one rep, but he got OL Tytus Howard on one foot initially. However, Howard got all four cleats back in the ground and slowed down the 14-veteran.
The Texans signed a rookie from Miami, FL for Friday's practice and beyond, a young man named D.J. Scaife. He was REALLY impressive on his first two reps. He lined up at guard and is a massive dude. He put a DL in clamps on his first rep and then rode the DL up the field away from the QB on his second rep. I'm intrigued after a solid career at the University of Miami, FL
Rookie OL Juice Scruggs learned a ton from those first two reps against Roy Lopez Jr. because he stoned a DL on the next rep. Just locked out and danced easily for a rep win.
However, DL Byron Cowart used that long arm power on a rep against Scruggs to get the former Penn State star moved to the side. Good win for Cowart on that one.
It's taken a few days, seemingly, for OL George Fant to get his sea legs under him, but he did a solid job against DL Chase Winovich on the edge on their one and only rep.
OL Shaq Mason had a great battle a few days ago against Roy Lopez Jr and eventually countered every single move that Lopez Jr. threw at him that day. Today, though, it was Lopez who kept working that inside chop/club and, eventually, got to the QB.
Then, Mason turned up the heat and GOT Roy on the next rep. Oh yeah, Roy's win on the rep prior seemed to get Shaq locked in even more.
I wrote this down after a rep "63 another good rep - don't sleep on him at center". 63 is OL Michale Deiter and his length and hand strength help him against stout nose tackles like it did in these drills.
Then, Maliek and Tytus just took over the final few reps of the drills.
When the Texans then moved into team drills, QB C.J. Stroud threw DARTS. On the first play, Stroud rolled right to get some room on the scramble. He spied WR Robert Woods and threw a dart to him for a completion. He had some sauce on that throw, my goodness. DB Jalen Pitre thought he had a pick, but his dive was a millisecond late as Woods locked up the catch for a first down.
The defense brought blitz heat on the next play and the offense couldn't get the ball off. On the next play, they played man again and Stroud had WR Nico Collins deeeeeep, but overshot him.
That changed a few plays later as Stroud went right back to it. Same play (seemingly). Same situation (seemingly). Different result (Definitely!). Stroud laid this one right on the money to Collins for a touchdown. Man, that majestic spiral ended up right in his hands for a beautiful six.
One of the best plays of the day was DB M.J. Stewart diving in front of a Davis Mills pass to WR Jared Wayne to seemingly break up the pass. But, as he dove in front, he didn't just knock it away, he knocked it right into his lap for an interception. That was one heck of a play.
Then, Stroud went back to work finding WR Tank Dell on the sideline for a pretty pitch and catch.
QB Case Keenum has thrown some pretty balls in this training camp, but I'll be damned if his throw to Andrew Beck down the seam for a completion wasn't one of his best throws. My goodness, Keenum put that one right on the money.
On the next play, Keenum scrambled out of the pocket and found WR Jalen Camp on the far side for another completion. Two throws. Two beauties.
The offense came back for the next team period and worked on certain third down and short situations. On the second play of that drill, Stroud threw a dart, complete to Robert Woods for the first down. That was NICE!
The coming out of the end zone team period wasn't the best of the day for the offense, I'll just leave it at that.
One play, though, stood out. QB Davis Mills brought the offense to the line of scrimmage and as he did he stared to his right at his receiver group on that side. My thought was he was trying to get his WR's attention that "hey, you have the matchup to win, here" without having to scream it at Hutchinson. He was right as Xavier Hutchinson ran a speed out on a linebacker for a completion and a first down.
Oh, man, RB Dameon Pierce hit the SWEET cutback on a run to start the fourth team session. That was nasty.
Then, Stroud found WR Tank Dell on the out route against man coverage. As soon as Tank caught the ball on the sideline, I heard DB Jalen Pitre, who was trying to help out his fellow defensive backs to that side, yell out "Shooot, good route, bro!"
Then, DL Jacob Martin blew up an outside run toward his side. Wow! He did that with the quickness!!
I think the fans love seeing John Metchie III do work more than any player I can remember. He caught the next route from Stroud over the middle and I heard an instant reaction, louder than most.
The best defensive play of the day came two plays later when LB Denzel Perryman did his best Michael Jordan circa 1985 imitation, flying in the air to snag a Stroud pass for an interception. My gut tells me that Stroud didn't even think Perryman could GET UP like that at all. But, the veteran did and pulled down that pick for the defense.
Mills threw a gem of a pass to RB Mike Boone for a completion on a route up the seam. LB Chase Winovich made a great read, but the pass was just too perfect. Boone snagged it and got up the field for a big gain.
Mills rolled right after feeling some pressure and he threw a pass to rookie WR Jesse Matthews on an over route. It was right near me and I didn't think Mills had a chance in you-know-what of making that play, but Matthews diving effort, and catch, made him right. That was one heck of a snag and one that I've seen Matthews make. He can really run and he has great hands. He's not the rookie that many talk about in this crew, but that dude can ball. I was so happy for him to end practice that way.
Good day and another on tap for tomorrow. See ya then, everyone.