Wednesday was the third day in pads for the Texans but it was a crisp one, especially for the man pulling the trigger. QB Davis Mills had another strong day leading this offense but he wasn't alone. Buckle up, it's time for my observations from Wednesday's workout at the Houston Methodist Training Center. Let's get it.
The one-on-ones with the WRs and DBs moved down near the goal line where there are nearly as many go-to routes for the WR. And, DBs also know they've got that backline as an additional defender. So, it gets tough for everyone down deep and the winner on a route isn't absolutely clear at all times. It's the little things that stand out.
Case in point, WR Nico Collins is a guy I've written (and talked) a lot about during this training camp. He was aligned against the DB, who had inside leverage. Essentially, the DB lined up with his body down the middle of Nico's inside shoulder blade. The thought is that with an inside alignment, the WR will choose to run an outside route and the DB can react accordingly. On the snap, he faced up the DB, shook him outside and then crossed his face quickly back to the inside for a nearly uncontested touchdown reception. That shouldn't happen against inside leverage but Nico made it happen.
The highlight that fans have been waiting for happened during this one-on-one session. Rookie DB Derek Stingley ran the route for WR Johnny Johnson III. Stingley anticipated the route, broke at the same time Johnson III did and came away with an easy interception. Johnson III saw that Stingley had shut the route down, essentially, and didn't really know what to do. Whoo, that was nice and it broke the TC practice streak for Davis Mills - we had not seen an interception throughout practice since we started watching last Friday. On the first rep between these two, Stingley had excellent coverage, but Johnson III shielded Stingley from the ball and caught it for a touchdown.
WR Chester Rogers was at practice and whoo, he knows how to get open against man-to-man coverage. Wow. I knew he was sudden and twitchy, but seeing him up close, it's truly evident. He got three yards of separation on his route to the back of the end zone for a touchdown.
On his second rep, he couldn't lose his shadow DB Tavierre Thomas on the fade route. So, QB Davis Mills threw a backshoulder fade, a LITERAL backshoulder throw that landed on Thomas' backshoulder. Rogers leapt and reached over Thomas to make the amazing catch for a TD. What a grab - catch of the day type stuff from the recently signed Rogers.
Still waiting for someone to cover TE Brevin Jordan one-on-one at the goal line. Three reps, I believe and he walked away from each of them nearly untouched with TD catches. Even during red zone seven-on-seven he was absolutely beasting. He ran an out and up on a LB or a S (couldn't completely tell) and Mills dropped one into the bucket for a touchdown. The way that Brevin pulled away from the defender was impressive to say the least.
WR Brandin Cooks is great, inside or outside, but down near the goal line, he's equally as dangerous because of his ability to exploit a two-way go. On his first rep, he lined up inside, sprinted at the DB, planted his inside foot and exploded away from the DB to catch the fade for a TD.
WR Chris Moore v. DB Desmond King II was a great battle on the first rep. Moore pushed up the field toward the back of the end zone but King essentially walled off his path. QB Kyle Allen did the right thing throwing to Moore's backshoulder, which Moore caught for the touchdown. King II couldn't have played it any better but Allen helped Moore in a big way.
DB Tremon Smith had a tremendous cover in that one-on-one session. TEXTBOOK technique to take away the fade. Buzzed his feet stayed centered on the WR. Absolutely matched the WR's feet when he went to the corner and then flipped his hips to play the ball. Brilliant stuff.
On his second rep against Nico Collins, DB Fabian Moreau played the fade to the 6-4 WR about as well as possible. When Moreau knew it was a fade route, he immediately burst into Collins path and stayed within arm's length as the ball arrived. He lost his balance with the ball in the air, but his initial positioning was excellent, so he was able to knock down the pass.
DB Jonathan Owens put clamps on a flat route from the TE. CLAMPS! Great coverage.
On his first route in the drill, WR Chad Beebe's route was just sublime and it got him separation. However, DB Tavierre Thomas recovered to make it a tough throw, which ended up incomplete. It was clear Thomas knew exactly where and how to recover, but man, that route by Beebe was sick.
On his second rep, Beebe ran an inside, back of the end zone route that left a DB stumbling trying to stay in his hip pocket. That one Beebe was able to catch for a touchdown.
Same could be said for rookie DB Jacobi Francis on the fade route against WR Connor Wedington who's had a magnificent camp. On this rep, though, Yiadom played it PERFECTLY against the former Stanford star. Wedington, though…we'll hear from more later in these Harris Hits.
During red zone seven-on-seven, DB Steven Nelson made a tremendous play on the fade route to WR Nico Collins. Nelson timed his swipe perfectly as Collins tried to reel in the pass. GREAT PBU.
It appeared as if LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin was going to have himself a PBU on the very next play and it would've been one HECK of a breakup. QB Davis Mills spotted TE Pharaoh Brown down the seam, wide open and fired. JR-M leapt in the air and tipped the pass…into the waiting arms of LB Blake Cashman for the interception - his first on the day. So, I don't think, statistically speaking, that JR-M would get a PBU on that since it turned into a pick. Either way, great LB play from both JR-M and Cashman.
Cashman is NOT hard to notice in these practices. He had another interception later in the two minute drill in practice to give him a pair on the day. He's been running RBs down on wide runs from the inside. I really like watching how explosive he is on the field. Keep an eye on #53 for the remainder of this training camp.
Back to the red zone, on the next play after the Cashman pick, Davis Mills didn't waste any time getting right back up on the horse as he lasered a slant route to Nico Collins for the touchdown. Decisive, strong throw for six - TIGHT, love it.
On the first rep of DL/OL one-on-ones, LT Laremy Tunsil gave a Ted Talk on how to stone a spin move. Clinical and perfect. DL Jerry Hughes hasn't been in this league for over a decade for nothing, though. On the second rep, Hughes burst high side, chopped with his inside arm then hit a quick rip, bending to the QB for the sack. Two fun reps.
Man, when DL Ross Blacklock explodes and plays with proper leverage, he can be a bull in a china shop.
I've watched DL Ogbo Okoronkwo since his days at Oklahoma and he is still growing right in front of my eyes. In the four days that I've watched him up close with the Texans, he won a one-on-one rep with four different techniques. He's been violent in shock/shed, a spin move yesterday and a nasty ghost rip, I'll call it, for another win today. Every day, he's winning and doing it differently too.
OL Charlie Heck slowed the former Sooner star rusher on the second rep, but Ogbo hit that spin move on the rubber match and would've drawn a holding penalty. Well, of course with the right NFL officiating crew. Lethal move.
Love, LOVE the rep OL A.J. Cann had against DL Maliek Collins who has made a habit of destroying everybody in camp thus far. Collins shimmied and darted one way, Cann cut him off. He then went back the other way and Cann cut him off again. Finally, Collins tried to spin and Cann was waiting in proper position to slow that down too. It's the only time I can remember Collins truly being slowed down in a one-on-one rep.
OL Jimmy Morrissey put pass protection clamps on rookie DL Kurt Hinish today, one day after Hinish dominated a couple of reps against other IOL. Morrissey had three strong reps during the one-on-ones.
Oh, DL Thomas Booker wanted attention, huh? Well, not really, he's seemingly not that type of guy, but he got my attention with a nasty swipe on his pass rush to get CLEAN to the QB. Excellent rep.
First play of nine-on-seven, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill hit the jet boosters to tag off on RB Marlon Mack in the backfield. Shot out of a cannon!! We've seen Kamu make that play a dozen or more times over the past year. Whoo, man, he was flying.
LB Kevin Pierre-Louis.is pocket dynamite against lead runs. Man, his compact power shows through in those situations when he has to take on a fullback. It's great to see him healthy this time of year and it shows in his overall play thus far in training camp.
During team, QB Davis Mills was straight dealing. On the first rep of the team session, he threw complete on the dig route to Brandin Cooks. On the next throw, he rifled one complete to Brevin Jordan in the flat. Mills then completed a screen to Pharaoh Brown. Then, he threw a dime on the deep out on the sideline to Cooks. Then, on the final throw of the period, he threw, on the run, to Connor Wedington on a deep out on the sideline. Five for five and that's not the first time that he's been perfect during team drills. He then completed his next pass in the next team drill to Brandin Cooks again. It took three team drills until Mills threw an incompletion.
On the next series, DB Tremon Smith made one heck of a pick DEEP downfield and got some help from fellow DB Eric Murray in the process. QB Kyle Allen hauled off and let one fly to WR Chris Conley down the middle of the field, but Murray stayed in good position over the top of Conley and Smith spied the ball and picked it off as he darted in front of Conley/Murray.
Man, DL Demone Harris got my attention yesterday with some burst off the ball on his pass rushes. Today, though, he got all kinds of nasty in the run game. The offense called a wide run at him and he nearly tackled RB Dameon Pierce with an OL that he nearly ran completely over. Then, he just went and tackled Pierce. That was impressive.
Pierce then answered with a diving catch in the flat. Didn't know that club was in his bag, honestly.
Down in the red zone, Mills missed Cooks on a screen on the first play of the drill, his first incompletion in a team drill all day. A few plays later, though, he dropped a nugget from 20 yards out directly into the star WR's hands for a touchdown.
On the next play, Mills hit Pharoah Brown in the back of the end zone for another touchdown. That was a beautiful throw; it was in the air 32 yards and in the spot where only Pharaoh could catch it.
There's rookie DL Kurt Hinish blowing up a wide run to the other side of the field. It's been hard to not notice the former Irish interior lineman.
LB Garret Wallow v. FB Paul Quessenberry…again, Day five. Every day those two meet in a gap on a run play and it's the loudest collision of the day. Consider today Groundhog Day in that regard.
The last team drill of the day was situational - :37 seconds, down one, no time outs, ball at the +45 yard line. Mills ripped one to Chris Moore who took it down to the 22-yard line. Then, Mills waited until there was six seconds remaining to snap the ball and spike it to set up a game winning field goal. Handled. Beautifully.
LB Blake Cashman intercepted the last pass of the day to end the situational drill and the fifth day of practice. It's a day off on Thursday so the Harris Hits will take a break and be back on Friday. See ya then!