It had been awhile.
On Saturday morning at the Houston Methodist Training Center, the Texans practiced in front of fans. They'd not done so since August of 2019. With players and coaches from Second Baptist High School, as well as players, coaches and family members from the youth FUN Football League, the Texans got some work done in a different setting. Hearing the cheers was a welcome change for head coach David Culley.
"There was a little buzz when we came out to practice," Culley said. "It was almost like, 'Oh, man, it's almost like we're playing a game.' And believe it or not in practice when we get into those seven-on-sevens and those team periods, those guys feel that."
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, NFL training camps were closed to the public in 2020. This year, the Texans will have practice in front of fans a total of seven times. Houston's off on Sunday, but will practice in front of season ticket members on Monday. Additionally, many players and coaches had their family and friends at practice as well.
Running back Mark Ingram, II was a Baltimore Raven last year. He's a Texan now. The 11-year vet was thankful to have fans back on Saturday, and he's excited about the practices to come with fans in attendance.
"It's a blessing," Ingram said. "I think 2020 was rough for everybody, especially sporting events not being able to have fans and not being able to have family and stuff at the game. So just to have fans at practice, anticipate having fans all throughout the season, I think that's something everybody is looking forward to."
Linebacker Christian Kirksey agreed.
"I love it," Kirksey said. "You know that's a part of football. Gives you extra energy, boost. I'm excited for it."
The Texans defense came up its fair share of big plays during Saturday's work, and Culley was happy to hear the noise from the fans.
"Obviously, it's a great play for the Texans because if it was a touchdown or interception, they were cheering so it was a good thing on both ends," Culley said,.
The Texans return to work tomorrow, and will be on the field for practice at 9:15 a.m.