I've lived in Houston on and off for the past 30 years and I've seen some crazy times. As such, I'm not totally sure where the last three days rank but wow…
Memorial Day/night flooding
Rockets win Game 4 over the Warriors to keep the series alive
OTAs pushed back to Wednesday
OTAs start and announcement of Texans on HBO's 'Hard Knocks'
Rockets win Game 5 to keep the series alive.
Oh...and the Astros have the best record in the American League.
I've got my fingers crossed that the Rockets can win in Oakland to bring the series back here for Game 6. Regardless, the roller coaster has been going at warp speed lately.
But, enough of 'Hard Knocks' and basketball and flooding (thoughts with everyone impacted, of course, here and throughout the state of Texas)...for now. The start of OTAs gave all of us a little bit of an idea of how the puzzle will fit together for the 2015 season. Here are some observations from day one.
Take a look at photos from the Houston Texans' first day of OTAs.
Reps. There will be no shortage of reps for the quarterbacks in this QB competition. I love how nearly every drill had a mirror component on the other side. Whenever there was a team drill or 7-on-7 going on, there was one full group on one side and one full group on the other side. At the end of the day, literally, there were hundreds of reps for each quarterback. Not to mention, each one of those reps is needed to find a synergy with a completely revamped receiver corps.
As it pertains to quarterbacks, one thing to keep in mind is that finding the starting quarterback is sort of like a painting. It's a cumulative process and it may look one way one day and may look completely different the next day. Point being? The point is that even though one QB seemingly got starters reps one day doesn't mean anything is set in stone. This QB situation is going to evolve over the next few months and there will be a guy that wins the job, not two that lose it. So, there will be a lot of talk about who took what reps with what group. Tomorrow? That could be the complete opposite. Let it ALL play out over time.
The last thing on quarterbacks is that I haven't seen a group quite like this in Houston. All told, these guys can fire the football. I thought Brian Hoyer's arm was much stronger than I remembered in Cleveland. There were a couple of "WHOOO" throws from Ryan Mallett and Tom Savage threw some seeds as well.
I lied...one more thing about this group was how they all threw the ball down the field. Too often in past years, Texans QB in practice settled for the checkdown route and it would infuriate me. Not today. Yes, all three quarterbacks took a few checkdowns along the way, but they all took shots down the field, especially in the intermediate areas of the field. My mindset has always been that you take risks in practice so you know the limits and boundaries during a game. These QBs were firing today and it was fun to see.
The defensive backs got after it today! Sure, the pass catchers caught plenty of footballs along the way, but there were numerous aggressive breaks on the football during 7-on-7 and team drills. Darryl Morris made a great break on a short throw that got everyone fired up. First round pick Kevin Johnson had a number of PBUs and a couple of interceptions. That guy doesn't back down from anyone and really took his play up a notch. Jumal Rolle also made a great break on a short throw to break up a pass. It felt as though that group relished being aggressive, especially on shorter throws throughout the day.
The day rookie WR Keith Mumphrey was drafted, I noted how good he'd be for the special teams units but if he's not careful he's going to inject himself right into the WR competition. That guy caught a ton of passes throughout the day and even got some kudos from Brian Hoyer during the QB's media session after the OTA. He's a rookie. He's not perfect. He dropped a pass or two. But, that guy is making a big impression right away with the staff and veterans.
Another guy that just gets open and catches everything is Travis Labhart. His 1-on-1s with Kevin Johnson were fun to watch. He's so good running routes and has the speed to get behind a DB. Keep in mind at A&M, it took a while to get a shot and when he did, he became one of Johnny Manziel's go-to guys.
In fact the guys we've long thought have a shot at playing a role in the slot - Labhart, Damaris Johnson, etc. - had solid days. But, keep an eye on rookie Chandler Worthy from Troy. That guy has SCOOTS, man he can go and made a couple of excellent grabs in team/7-on-7.
There's not a ton to learn from the OL & DL early in OTAs, but I will say that it did my heart good to see Vince Wilfork in a Texans #75 jersey. It's going to take a while to remember that Derek Newton is now #72, but we'll get there.
Many wondered why the Texans didn't draft any OLB in this past draft, given the lack of depth at the position in base defense situations. But, the UDFA that the Texans signed - Carlos Thompson (Ole Miss), Lynden Trail (Norfolk State) - are LONG and athletic. I'll include a guy like Kourtnei Brown who was signed middle of last year. It looks at times like a bunch of small forwards out on the field at that position.
If there's a guy that I'm truly stoked about his progress as a second year player, it's TE C.J. Fiedorowicz. He made a great fingertip catch on a ball down the seam. If he's healthy, he's going to impact this offense in 2015 and be a multi-purpose "tight end" in every respect.
That's all for now, but as we get to see more OTAs, I'll be back with more thoughts and observations. Stay safe and dry, everyone!