The Texans took to the Houston Methodist Training Center grounds for the first night practice of Training Camp on Saturday evening. They left having given the ardent Texans fans one heck of a show. Here are my Harris Hits from Saturday evening's practice.
It was billed as a scrimmage by some on social media but it was just another scripted practice that had plenty of work built in. All in all, this was one of the best offensive practices that I can remember in the last four to five years. It was certainly the best of this training camp.
QB C.J. Stroud was decisive and accurate throughout the practice. He was so calm throughout the night. QB Davis Mills threw it about as well as I can remember in this training camp. These two took the majority of the team reps, but they were absolutely dealing. In my notebook, I signify plays that I MUST mention with a double asterisk next to it. I wrote down like five or six double asterisks, while other practices might have had one or two. Those two were dealing beautifully, led by Stroud.
One of the best throws Stroud made was on a red zone wheel route to RB Dameon Pierce. The second year running back tracked the ball perfectly over his shoulder as Stroud placed it in the exact perfect location for the TD reception.
Loved seeing TE Dalton Schultz "Mossing" defensive backs in red zone seven-on-seven. That man is a special pass catcher and a weapon all over the field.
Not surprisingly, I spent a lot of my time down with the OL and DL when they got to the one-on-ones period. OL Tytus Howard began the drill slowing down the spin-o-rama of Jerry Hughes. But, on the next rep. Will Anderson Jr. went inward to find the best bull rush he had and unleashed it on Tytus. The Texans star OL shut down nearly every move Anderson threw at him on Friday, but Anderson got underneath Tytus's pads and that power flashed in a big way.
I could watch DL Maliek Collins and OL Shaq Mason go one-on-one all day long. Collins has been the best defensive linemen on the field for the entire training camp. On the first rep, Collins was able to work Mason's edge to get loose to the QB. On the second rep, Collins got tricky with his move and Mason wasn't buying it. He stayed square and locked up Collins to make the meeting a 1-1 draw.
Rookie OL Juice Scruggs is seemingly getting more and more comfortable at center in all of his reps during one-on-ones and team drills. His first rep was against DL Roy Lopez and Juice was able to stay square, using his lateral quickness to stay square on Roy. On the second rep, Lopez slipped and Scruggs tried to bury Roy in the turf. I like that nastiness that Scruggs possesses. Thing is, Scruggs is one of the nicest young men we met this offseason.
If I write DL Hassan Ridgeway's name this year without the word power in the same sentence, something is seriously wrong. I can still see him bull rushing one of the Texans interior OL right into the QB…or the spot where the QB would be. That dude is one power packed stud.
I've seen OL Laremy Tunsil now for five years but he shows something different each time he's on the field. His quickness, feet and lateral quickness are off the charts, but I saw him on his second rep strike the defensive lineman with his inside hand WITH SOME VIOLENCE. I mean, it was like a right hook to the chest and then he struck again with that right hand. Those were as violent hands as I can remember Laremy throwing against a rusher in pass protection.
Thing was on Laremy's first rep, he just slid on the arc, anchored and kept DL Jonathan Greenard from going much of anywhere on his rush rep.
I liked the battle that Roy Lopez Jr. and OL Michael Deiter had going during their two reps. Lopez used a strong shock/yank to win the first rep, but Deiter anchored well against Lopez's long arm move to win the second rep.
Man, saw some serious power from rookie DL Ali Gaye. He went inside and ran right over an interior lineman on his first rep. He's more of a DE type, but he's powerful so going inside to rush isn't too surprising. That power, though, was a bit surprising.
DL Jacob Martin is having a tremendous camp. The offense is just going to realize one day that it's useless to run bootlegs at Martin. He's been so disciplined on that play, in particular, but he seems to have even more juice off the edge than he had back in 2021 when we last saw him with the Texans. On his first rep in one-on-ones, he ran right around the left tackle to the QB. The burst off the ball? Wow.
DL Chase Winovich hasn't been back at practice for too many days in a row, but each day, he seems to get more and more comfortable. He threw a great inside swim move for an easy win on one of his reps.
Unfortunately, the OL/DL drills had to stop because of an injury to rookie DL DJ Scaife. Hopefully, he'll be okay soon.
When the team period started, QB C.J. Stroud got the offense rolling. It started with a run by RB Dameon Pierce, then Stroud drilled Pierce with one over in the left flat. Two plays later, Stroud hit John Metchie III with a brilliant ball on the sideline. That was a one asterisk play. Beautiful, BEAUTIFUL toss.
One of my favorite moments of training camp was seeing WR Tank Dell crackdown on DL Jon Greenard on a run play. On that particular run play, Dell's responsibility was to block down on the end man on the line of scrimmage and that was Greenard. Now, you've seen Tank. You've seen Greenard. So, now, you know why that was so damn impressive.
One of the aspects of QB play that stood out with Stroud, and stands out even more each and every time I watch him, is the way Stroud handles the rock. He's getting more and more comfortable with ball handling and it's evident in how he sells bootlegs and play action. On one play in that team period, he ran a bootleg and I was completely sold on the play fake. I thought 100% he handed the ball off but he pulled it out and hit TE Eric Tomlinson with a completion.
I thought the IOL got more movement today on their interior runs than it had been getting. That's a really good sign.
On QB Davis Mills' third play of team, he threw a gem to rookie WR Jared Wayne. That was a one asterisk play and a brilliant pitch and catch.
On the very next play, Mills ripped one to WR Tank Dell over the middle of the field on play action. The fans loved that one. Shoot, they love when Tank does anything, but he made a strong catch in traffic after a laser shot from Mills.
Those two hooked up for a two asterisk play a few plays later as Mills hit Tank again for a big completion. Again, the fans loved that one. That ball had some RPMs on it and stuck Tank right between the 1 and 3.
To start the next team period, Stroud threw incomplete on first down and then completed a screen on second down. On third down, he made a great out route throw to TE Dalton Schultz for a first down. Then, it was a screen to RB Devin 'Motor' Singletary that was set up perfectly!
One play after DL Hassan Ridgeway nearly tackled RB Dameon Pierce to the ground, Stroud shot one to WR Steven Sims for an effective completion against man coverage. It was at this point that I wrote in his notebook "7 is dealing". He was definitely in a groove at that point.
Then, DL Jacob Martin ate up a reverse. On the next play, he was key to setting the edge against a run play. He locked up the tackle, forced the RB outside where LB Christian Harris was waiting to stop the play.
When QB Davis Mills stepped back onto the field, he first hit rookie RB Xazavian Valladay for a completion. Then, three plays later, arguably, the best catch of training camp took place. Mills saw man coverage across the board so he lofted one down the right sideline. Rookie WR Jesse Matthews did his best Willie Mays basket catch imitation, snatching the ball over his shoulder for an incredible completion. That was nearly a three asterisk play, just brilliant, BRILLIANT catch by the rookie, one day after he ended Friday's workout with a diving catch right in front of me.
He wasn't done either. Two plays later, Matthew made another sliding catch down inside the five yard line. Mills threw two wonderful passes and Matthews made even more of an impact with those two catches.
The last period was another end of game situation - 17-10, 1:15 in the game, one time out. The offense finally hit a wall a bit. That wall's name was Maliek Collins. He eviscerated the offense on second down, tackling a screen in the backfield for a loss.
On third down, TE Dalton Schultz made an excellent catch and was introduced to LB Christian Harris, if you catch my drift. If you can't, Harris gave him a little love tap down the seam.
One of my favorite throws of the night was Stroud's completion to WR Tank Dell. I was standing right in line with this one and it was a clear indication of how Stroud/QBs have to throw to Tank. I had one eye on Stroud and one on the secondary. So, I saw Stroud throw into an area where there was NO ONE. Then, out of the blue, Dell came flying into the area, running through the ball to make the catch. I mean, Tank was nowhere near that spot but Stroud led him perfectly into the completion.
Then, Stroud hit Robert Woods who stepped out of bounds to stop the clock. He then found Andrew Beck who ran through a DB to get out of bounds as well. On the next play, rookie OL Juice Scruggs did a GREAT job picking up an inside stunt that allowed Stroud to get the ball off. He couldn't make a connection with the receiver but he got that pass off because of Scruggs' work.
Stroud connected to Dell again a few plays later, but the drive bogged down just short of the end zone. That said, it was really the only hiccup that I saw from the offense all night.
Other than that, the offense put together a really solid night in front of the amassed throng of fans on hand. Bun B was in the house, amongst others. Former Rockets star Mo Taylor was on hand. It was a good night…it was a VERY good night.