For the first time since the 2010 preseason, the Texans practiced against a different uniform.
Houston hosted the first of two joint practices with the Atlanta Falcons on Wednesday. It was a productive day, according to head coach Bill O'Brien.
"I thought that both teams really paid attention to the situations," O'Brien said. "We had third down, we had red area, we had a little no huddle, Atlanta threw a little no huddle at us, which was good, and then obviously, the two-minute situation at the end. I think it's good for both teams. It keeps both teams into the practice, having to be alert, understanding what the new situation is, and then crank the music up a little bit and force the communication. Both teams got a lot accomplished today."
Teams were dressed in full pads, though Wednesday's practice wasn't full contact. Players liked breaking up the monotony of camp, competing against another team.
"I think any time you get to go against somebody else is good," Andre Johnson said. "You always get to see where you're at as a team. They came out and competed well today. All you can do is keep building. It's early. We're still in training camp. The thing is that we have to make sure we're ready to go on opening day. That's the ultimate goal but every day you come out here you just try to get better as a team."
O'Brien has first-hand experience of the benefits of practicing against another team in camp. The 2010 preseason was also the last time Bill O'Brien faced the Falcons as the quarterbacks coach in New England. That season, the Patriots clinched the AFC East with a 14-2 record before losing to the Jets in the divisional round of the playoffs.
"We had a good year, and I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that we went against those teams in training camp and were able to compete against other teams before playing them and then certainly before the regular season," O'Brien said. "It broke up the monotony of camp. It showed us different things we had to work on. It showed us things that, 'hey, you know, this protection isn't really good versus that look or you know, this defensive scheme, we better make sure we're straight against what they're doing.' It was really good in a lot of different areas and I think that is what you're seeing today."
The Texans will host the Falcons for their second and final joint practice on Thursday at the Houston Methodist Training Center. The two teams will face each other in Saturday's preseason game scheduled for kickoff at 7 p.m.