The Texans will practice at NRG Stadium at night on Thursday, have a walkthrough on Friday and play the New Orleans Saints on Saturday. I say all that to say that Wednesday was the last full outdoor workout before the team's first preseason game. Mother Nature brought her usual hot and humid self to the two hour party that we call Texans Camp Day #10…or thereabouts. Either way, here are my Harris Hits from Wednesday's workout at the Houston Methodist Training Center.
I've watched every WR/DB one-on-one rep in this camp and I've rarely focused on the QB. The drill is about the WR/DB but I noticed something today that I loved that was incorporated into the drill for the QB. When QB Davis Mills dropped to throw, assistant coach Ted White "rushed" Davis to make him navigate the pocket before Mills could make an accurate throw. After deftly dodging White, Davis moved up into the pocket and threw on the run…to whom? His former Stanford co-captain.
On that route, WR Connor Wedington got open on the dig route against man coverage as he has throughout camp.
WR Phillip Dorsett's ability to separate is 100% legit. Whether he's inside or outside, that ability is just another tool in his arsenal. He's really giving the DBs a lot of trouble in one-on-one situations as a result.
DB Desmond King II is as feisty as it gets and competitive in one-on-one drills and he had a PBU early in the drill. Great footwork and competitive approach for certain.
WR Nico Collins looked sharp in all facets of his routes in man-to-man situations. His first rep was on a dig route that he got loose early and maintained separation throughout the route.
Man, DL Rasheem Green was on one today in pass rush one-on-ones. He took out any anger he seemingly had on his first rush - a straight bull rush right down the middle of the OL. Two rollerskates and two and a half seconds later, the defensive linemen gave out a restrained "OHHH!!" for that rep for Green. On his second rep, now rushing inside, he gave a master class in shock/yank/arm over. He started to bull, gave the guard some heavy hands, yanked the guard forward and then shot the outside arm over for a clean sack.
DL Mario Addison is just so darn impressive as a pass rusher. On the first rep against OL Tytus Howard, Addison went inside, ripping with his left, getting clean to the quarterback. Howard got the jump on the snap too, but Addison burst inside to get rolling.
As a pass rusher, you better have a counter to your initial rush against Laremy Tunsil. If not, he's going to eat you alive. Not surprisingly, he did that to DL on nearly every rep.
DL Ross Blacklock is stringing one solid pass rush rep after the other. On his first rep, he stabbed the guard with a long arm and planned to swim over the top to the inside. But, he struck so hard with his inside stab that he didn't even really have to arm over because the guard was falling backwards.
DL Justin McCray had an outstanding day yesterday in these difficult one-on-one drills and he showed again today that he can hold up against a bull rush with the best of them. Blacklock tried to stay square on him and bull him, but McCray anchored and shut it down.
Veteran maneuver: wear gloves the color of the defense. Officials can't see that white gloved hand grasping onto a white jersey on the defense, right? I can see some OL that understand that well.
DL Derek Rivers is so agile and explosive that it makes him a major pass rush problem. On his first rep, OL Charlie Heck was in perfect position to handle Rivers who didn't seem at first totally sure what he wanted to do with his rush. So, with Heck squared up on him, Rivers decided to go right down the middle with a powerful bull rush. But, once Rivers made contact, he slid quickly inside, then ripped with his outside arm to put Heck in a difficult position. That move from bull to inside rip move happened in a blink and that's how Rivers makes life so tough on tackles on the edge.
On Rivers' second rep, he won without even making initial contact as he approached the tackle. He got on the OT's toes, shimmied inside then outside and hit the gas back inside with a quick swipe/rip for another clean win. Rivers is a pass rushing demon.
DL Michael Dwumfour threw a wonderful double swipe to turn the guard he faced and then he got skinny to slide right on by to the QB.
On the very next rep, DL Demone Harris used the exact same move but he didn't swipe the guard's hands perfectly. Yet, he was still able to get upfield and rip past the guard on his way to the QB.
OL Jimmy Morrissey might've had the best OL rep of the day. He went against Roy Lopez Jr. who has given everyone problems this camp. Roy tried to get on Morrissey's edge, but Jimmy slid over to cut off his path and stuck that outside hand right on Roy's outside arm. Roy tried to counter back but Morrissey had his inside arm in the perfect spot and it was done. Morrissey is strong as an ox and when he gets hands on, it's really tough for a defensive lineman.
On their second rep, Lopez Jr. executed one of the best forklift moves I've seen. He got his inside hand under Morrissey's arm and lifted. Then, he ripped back to the inside. Those two went at it - love it!
When it was time for team drills, the defense heated Davis Mills up a bit on the first play with a blitz. However, Mills spied the free rusher and threw a dart to TE Pharaoh Brown before the blitzer could make contact.
The next play I could watch for days. Mills eyed WR Brandin Cooks on the deep out. He's won on this specific route against rookie DB Derek Stingley Jr. since camp began. This is where I remind everyone what I've said about Stingley Jr. the past few days - the rust is VERY clearly coming off day after day. As soon as Cooks turned to the sideline on his out route, Stingley Jr. flipped his hips, got in Cooks hip pocket and nearly picked off the pass. It was one of those pick six type interceptions too; think J Joe 2018 Buffalo game winner type interception. Yes, I wish he'd have picked it off, but I didn't care because EVERYTHING about the way he backpedaled, flipped hips, broke on the ball and, at least, prevented the incompletion was why the Texans drafted him number three overall.
QB Kyle Allen's best throw in that early team session was a rope to WR Jalen Camp on the deep curl route in the middle of the field. That was a 25-yard throw on a line and Camp's strong hands came in, well, handy as he ripped the ball away from the defender who made a valiant effort to strip it away.
QB Jeff Driskel was highly efficient in his set of plays during that group of team drills. He threw three straight completions and then dotted one to TE Mason Schreck down the seam, which may have been his best throw of the day. Following that completion, Driskel threw a TD to rookie FB Troy Hairston (fullbacks getting more bones) and then again to TE Seth Green on the next play.
When the squads flipped around the other direction, someone must have hit the ON button for Davis Mills. He started off with a rope to Brevin Jordan to get the drive started. Then, he threw complete to a wide open FB Andy Janovich in the flat. On the next play, Mills ripped one to Brandin Cooks for another completion on the sideline.
Rookie DB Jalen Pitre broke up the next Mills pass down the field to Cooks. Then after a coverage sack and a checkdown to Dameon Pierce, Mills threw a dart deep down the far sideline to Brandin Cooks complete. WOW, that was a beauty. Cooks worked behind the corner, in front of the safety and Mills had to reach back to find the fastball on that one too.
Allen finished the drive with a beauty in the back of the end zone to Schreck who went up high to get the deep throw and get two feet down for the touchdown.
On the first play of the next team period, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis made one heck of a play running with Cooks down the sideline and forcing the incompletion. Wow, that was impressive from the veteran linebacker.
Three plays later, Mills found his 99-mph fastball again. WR Nico Collins ran an in route near the goal line. There was a safety over the top, one closing and one linebacker in front. Mills found the hole between those three and FIRED to Collins. Complete. TD. Brilliant throw.
DB Steven Nelson came through with a pass break up in the end zone at the back of the end zone a few plays later. Then, DL Demone Harris tipped a pass into the waiting arms of LB Neville Hewitt…(Pep Hamilton takes over the Harris Hits) "LOOK, no one is supposed to lay a hand on my QB in any drills in training camp. Alright?!? 94 hit my QB's arm and that resulted in an unfortunate takeaway. No one hits my QBs and gets away with it. Pep…OUT. (Hamilton walks away muttering to himself about defensive players hitting his QB in practice)
Coach Lovie Smith always finishes practice with The Situation of the Day. Today's situation: :20 seconds remaining, no time out, down four, ball at the +18 yard line, THIRD DOWN. The down becomes EXTREMELY important because the spike is not available if the offense doesn't get the first down AND the ball remains in bounds. So, on that down, WR Nico Collins was called for an offensive pass interference, which resulted in a ten yard penalty and loss of down. On fourth down, Brandin Cooks ran a stupendous route that got him free in the end zone. Mills launched to the open receiver who made the TD catch, setting off an offensive celebration.
QB Kyle Allen stepped in for his set of downs and had a screen called which might have been a walk-in touchdown. But, big Roy Lopez Jr. jumped up and batted the pass…right back into Allen's lap. So, consider the situation I just laid out above. Ball caught in play, short of the first down, there's no spike available, got to run back to the line and try to get a play off before the clock runs out. In essence, Allen needed to drop the ball that Lopez Jr. spiked back to him. But, instincts always take over in situations like that. As such, Allen just reacted and caught the ball. When he was "tackled", that set into motion fourth down armageddon. After rushing to the line of scrimmage to get one final play off before the clock expired, the defense knocked down the last pass of practice.
I love these situations because each day there's something that comes up that can be taught to everyone. First off, the pass interference on Nico on a pass that was well over his head is a definite teaching point. Then, the batted ball in the lap of a QB or an OL in that situation. Sometimes a QB/OL catching a batted down screen pass isn't the worst thing to happen but in that particular situation, it's football death. Great to have those opportunities to learn at the end of a game/half.
What a couple of weeks we've had early in the morning at the Houston Methodist Training Center. See ya tomorrow NIGHT from NRG Stadium. Almost there, everyone, almost there.
Check out photos from the tenth day of Houston Texans Training Camp presented by Xfinity.