The Houston Texans practiced outside at the Houston Methodist Training Center on a sunny Thursday.Defensive Coordinator Matt Burke, Special Teams Coordinator Frank Ross and Offensive Coordinator Bobby Slowik all met with the media in separate press conferences inside NRG Stadium, and the locker room was open to the media as well. Here are a few key new items of note, which can be read in less than 60 seconds.
Revving up run game?
The Texans are averaging 3.0 yards per carry in 2023, and they want that number to rise. Slowik is confident the proverbial corner will get turned soon, in that regard.
"It's not something that happens fast, and you can see every week, they keep growing in it," Slowik said. "Last game, we were probably closest to really having a really, really good run game, and I know what the stats look like, and I know that alarms people a little bit, but it was close. It was real close."
Running back Dameon Pierce carried 20 times for 66 yards in the loss. But on the Texans' final drive, which resulted in an 18-yard touchdown pass from C.J. Stroud to Dalton Schultz, Pierce touched the ball on eight of the 11 plays in the possession. He ran seven times for 27 yards and also caught a pass for 16 yards.
"We're on our way," Slowik said. "We've just got to keep grinding."
Burke is very impressed with Saints quarterback Derek Carr, who "doesn't have a lot of holes in his game". Burke pointed out that the New Orleans offense has been pretty explosive downfield through the first five games of the season.
"He throws a good ball down the field with some of those weapons that they have," Burke said. "I would say that they're stretching the field a little bit more. He does a good job with that – he throws a really nice deep ball. So, that opens up some stuff as he's trying to push the ball down the field."
The Ross Report
Punter Cameron Johnston was back in action for the first time last Sunday, and he punted six times at Atlanta. Two of those six were downed inside the 20-yard line of the Falcons, and on average, Atlanta began their drives after a Johnston punt at their own 22.5 yard line.
Ross was glad to have the veteran punter back in the fold, after Johnston spent the first four weeks of the season on injured reserve.
"His operation has been really clean," Ross said. "He wants to get better. We all know he has a powerful leg, so hopefully that's going to continue to improve as he gets back into the groove."
Ross also said that veteran receiver Robert Woods would likely handle the punt return duties as long as Tank Dell is out with a concussion. That duo has split the reps in 2023, with Dell returning five punts and Woods returning three. The rookie is averaging 10 yards per return, and Woods has been good for nine yards per.
Here's the complete injury report for Thursday's practice.