The air was thinner, it was 20 degrees cooler and there were mountains in the distance.
The Texans practiced against the Broncos at their facilities in Englewood, Colorado on Tuesday. For the second straight week, Houston's practiced against a different team, as they hosted the Atlanta Falcons at the Houston Methodist Training Center last Wednesday and Thursday.
"Anytime you go against another team that obviously is a heck of a football team and they throw
different looks at you, now you can go back to the meeting room and show our team some things that we need to work on," head coach Bill O'Brien said.
Left tackle Duane Brown said the experience against the defending AFC champs was invaluable.
"We got a lot of good work here going against a team that played in the Super Bowl last year," Brown said. "There was a lot of competition, new fronts, unfamiliar faces, so it was a lot of good work."
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said seeing those different schemes, personnel and fronts were a great benefit, but also appreciated another aspect of going against the Broncos.
"I think the competitive juices just naturally flow a little bit more," Fitzpatrick said. "You want to come
out here and do good things against a different opponent"
For cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who also returned from injury to do some work, going against other teams raises the quality level of the practice reps.
"Any time you have chance to go one week against Matt Ryan and the next week against Peyton Manning in a full practice setting, it's just great because you can never get that type of work, even throughout the preseason," Joseph said. "You don't have that many plays where you play a full game, so we have a chance to come out here and practice and get a game type situation."
O'Brien said the Texans and Broncos will practice in full pads on Wednesday morning, and then go back into helmets and shoulder pads on Thursday.