Walking off the field after your last practice before a day off is one of the greatest feelings any football player can have in training camp. Here is the Harris Hurry-up from training camp practice number four.
-- I can't emphasize enough how much more adept this group of pass catchers is at catching the football. Simple though it may be, but going back through my notes for all four days, I haven't written "drop" but a few times.
-- Receiver Sammie Coates is doing just that on a consistent basis. Quarterback Brandon Weeden, in particular, seems to have taken a liking to No. 18, finding him numerous times again today like yesterday...and the day before that...and the day before that too.
-- Safety Tyrann Mathieu was mic'd up today so I can't wait to hear what he had to say during the practice. One play really stood out as he came up with a pass breakup after tight end Ryan Griffin pushed Mathieu off to get separation.
-- Tight end Stephen Anderson has always been a adept route runner and today he showed off his skills on a little stutter route for a touchdown during one-on-ones.
-- Fellow tight end Jordan Akins flourished throughout the week and he continued to get plenty of separation during one-on-ones against the linebackers and safeties.
-- Rookie running back Terry Swanson had a rough moment yesterday during pass protection against linebacker Brian Peters but today, he stood his ground against Dylan Cole and mirrored Cole's rush well.
-- One of the best contests of the day was rookie outside linebacker Duke Ejiofor vs. tackle Seantrel Henderson. The rookie won the first rep with a strong inside rip move but the hulking tackle won rep number two. After some discussion, they all decided a best of three was needed and it was too close to call a winner. Good battle.
-- Linebacker Zach Cunningham makes covering running backs look a whole lot easier than it really is. He was able to stick in the hip of a couple of running backs during one-on-one drills, as he did to Steelers star Le'Veon Bell last year.
-- Fellow second year linebacker Dylan Cole is quick as a cat to the football. On his first rep during team drills, he completely stuffed an inside run; he saw the open gap, filled it quickly and then faced up the running back in the hole.
-- There's a ton of competition throughout practice, even during individual, but one matchup that's been intriguing to watch is tight ends versus outside linebackers. Fans/listeners have asked me all off-season whether the loss of C.J. Fiedorowicz would seriously impact the run blocking of the tight end group. Losing C.J. is a massive loss, but that group is getting better by the day, including rookie Jordan Thomas.
-- Speaking of Thomas, those college wide receiver skills flourish nearly every day. He catches in traffic, gets separation and routinely snatches the ball out of the air. I don't know how many times someone around me said "that guy's going to be a problem for opponents this year."
-- Outside linebacker LaTroy Lewis was one of my "don't forget about me" players when Marc Vandermeer and I discussed them a few months back. He had a couple of flash plays, displaying power and quickness v. the run and pass.
-- The first offense went right down the field for a touchdown to start off the first team drill of the day. Quarterback Deshaun Watson threw a dart to a Texans pass catcher for a touchdown (my view was blocked so I don't know who caught it, sorry) to end a quick, effective and productive drive.
-- On that drive, receiver Braxton Miller skied high to snatch a throw across the middle for one of the best catches during team drills all week long.
-- Of course, the drive started with a Watson to DeAndre Hopkins pitch and catch...with a little toe drag swag for good measure.
-- Rookie Peter Kalambayi wasn't a dominant pass rusher in college, in large part because he was asked to do so many things for the Stanford defense. That said, his back-to-back pass rush reps during one-on-ones were outstanding
-- There aren't many "attaboys" during one-on-ones for offensive linemen - it's a really tough drill for them to "win". But, after one rep, I saw the offensive line giving rookie Mason Gentry some love for one of his reps/wins.
-- But, I saved the best for last. Intense. Emotional. Heated. Controversial. The goal line. The ball was placed at the three yard line - 11 on 11. Full go. Wow, that was the most fun, and chaotic, eight to ten minutes of the entire training camp.
-- On the first play, a gaggle of blue defensive shirts, led by Kareem Jackson, swarmed running back Alfred Blue and kept him out of the end zone. That stop set off a massive defensive eruption.
-- The next play, Blue powered into the end zone over his guards/center to score which set off a white team explosion equal to the defense's celebration.
-- The next two plays were controversial as the running back either scored just barely or was held out of the end zone just barely. With no refs it became a chaotic and funny scene to see nearly the entire 90 man roster storm the goal line to see whether the back had scored.
-- On the final rep of the day, linebacker Brian Peters delivered the best hit of camp to this point, one that set off a final blue team eruption. Peters dropped the hammer on the Texans back as he spun back to the inside trying to score, which led to the defense's win (and subsequent offensive punishment - 10 push ups). Peters was swarmed as the defense celebrated as if it was a mid-season regular season game.
Watching that drill was perhaps as much fun as I've had at a training camp practice in quite some time. Everyone seemed to love it and was a great send off prior to an off day. See ya on Tuesday, everyone.
Check out some of the best photos from Day 4 of Texans Camp at The Greenbrier in West Virginia.