The clear winner of Texans Camp Day #7 on Saturday was, well, me and you and him and her and all of us, really. Why? Clouds all practice long. I feel like I'm setting up a Seinfeld skit "CLOUDS, JERRY, CLOUDS!!" Either way, the Texans took to the Houston Methodist Training Center for practice number seven and got after it again for the second straight day. And, when there's football, I've got your observations - Here are my Harris Hits from practice seven. LET'S GO!
My favorite moment of today's practice may have taken place even before the 8 am whistle blew to start the workout. Desmond King II and a few others were back catching punts off the football Jugs machine. On the final one, King II decided to amp up the difficulty level. He got in position and then he leaned forward and caught the ball over his head, behind his back. He made it look easy too and that is NOT easy at all.
Once practice started, I had my eyes focused on the OL/DL one-on-ones from the outset. The first rep between OL Laremy Tunsil and DL Mario Addison was the one that I was most waiting to see. Watching veterans that have a number of pelts on the wall compete is always fun. Addison's plethora of pass rush moves. Tunsil's bend, athleticism and hands. Excellent matchup with no absolute winner.
I mentioned OL Charlie Heck yesterday, noting the progress he's made in his three years in Houston. Today, he took his first reps against one of the better pass rushers in camp DL Demone Harris. Heck completely stoned Harris who tried to use his cross chop move on big Charlie. Heck stayed square, replaced his outside hand when Harris chopped it and slid laterally in front of Harris to keep him from getting anywhere near the QB.
On the next rep, Heck faced DL Jerry Hughes who showed he still has the juice up the field. Hughes flew upfield, ripped underneath and bent inside to the QB.
Tunsil then faced DL Jon Greenard who tried to chop/rip on the Texans Pro Bowl OT. But, Tunsil replaced his outside hand after Greenard's initial chop and got his feet in position to cut off Greenard before he could turn the corner to the QB.
DL Maliek Collins was back to his rep winning ways, throwing a SICK inside spin move that allowed him a clean path to the QB. I've seen my share of spin moves in this camp, but Collins' effort was the most violent and explosive.
OL A.J. Cann swallowed up DL Ross Blacklock who tried to rip hard to Cann's outside initially. But, Cann kept shuffling to square up Blacklock and slowed him down.
Powerful DL Michael Dwumfour has a solid repertoire of interior pass rush moves. I always love watching his reps, but when he has to reach down for something, he uses that powerful lower half to drive through OL. He did that twice out of his three reps and won both. Speaking of power, DL Roy Lopez Jr. rocked back an interior OL with his power on a bull rush right down the middle of said OL.
I've mentioned DL Kurt Hinish since back in OTA/minicamp and he's put on a show in pass rush drills. Today, though, OL Scott Quessenberry was able to strike/punch before Hinish could gather his power off the snap. It was probably the best rep against Hinish that I've seen all camp long.
When Justin Britt and Roy Lopez Jr., former HS wrestling champs, go at one another, it feels a bit like the feeling out period in a wrestling match. Hands everywhere, feet sliding here and there in a football dance, instead of on a mat.
Greenard decided to use a chop/rip on Laremy Tunsil earlier in the drill, so he changed it up a bit in his second rep on the other side of the formation. He threw a cross chop that was nasty and got to the QB free and clear.
Rookie OL Austin Deculus has gotten plenty of work over the past few days due to Tytus Howard being out (in addition to Cedric Ogbuehi today). He has held up well, in my opinion. On his first rep, he drew DL Derek Rivers, who's as twitchy as it gets on the edge. Rivers' spin move is lethal but Deculus played it perfectly, catching Rivers right as he spun and shutting the rush down on the spot.
Rivers, then, taught young Deculus a little lesson later in the drill. When the two came back to meet, Rivers threw a ghost move just as the rookie OL threw hands to strike. Rivers was there and then gone in a blink. That was nasty and those were two great reps between the two competitors.
One of the key things in any one-on-one situation, especially in OL/DL one-on-ones, is recovery. The rep, the play, the down may not start well, but can a guy recover to save the play? OL Jimmy Morrissey did just that on a rep against DL Ross Blacklock. It seemed right off the snap that Blacklock was on a straight path to the QB after working the edge on Morrissey. But, the former Pitt center shuffled his way through it and squared back up on Blacklock and kept the DL from getting to the QB.
One of the most interesting stories in camp is Adedayo (Dayo) Odeleye. He played in an international league last year and was given the opportunity to come to camp through the NFL's International Player Program. He's an amazing athlete and he's learning on the fly how to be an NFL player, all the while adjusting to American football in the process. Today, he had two of his best pass rush reps that had the DL cheering for him. The one that had my full attention was when he hit the OL with some speed and a rip off the edge and drew a certain holding penalty. There's little doubt that he's a project but he's improving a bit each and every day.
The Texans ran seven-on-seven in the red zone again on Saturday. The first play stood out for two reasons. It ended up being a checkdown to RB Marlon Mack and it was a win for the defense. The first thing that stood out was how great of a disguise it was. Rookie DB Jalen Pitre was all the way down near the box and on the snap he sprinted to the deep half of the field on his side. So, he didn't give the disguise away as he waited until the ball was snapped to give Davis Mills the thought that it was one coverage when it was a completely different one. The second thing that stood out was rookie DB Derek Stingley. I can't remember seeing Stingley play much cover two at LSU, but the corner spot in that scheme can be tougher than it first appears. One of the goals for that cornerback is to give the safety time to get over the top of routes on that half of the field. WR Brandin Cooks read the coverage properly and knew to get into the hole in the coverage (behind Stingley/in front of Pitre), but Stingley did a GREAT job sliding/shuffling to get width, which forced Cooks to widen as well. That was enough to buy time for Pitre to get over the top to the coverage. Mills waited and waited to throw to Cooks behind Stingley and in front of Pitre, but those two rookies took that away. Hence, Mills threw the checkdown to Mack.
So, on the next play, Mills looked the other way and threw an absolute laser into the chest of WR Nico Collins between two DBs for a touchdown. That throw was RIPPED, folks.
A couple of plays later, Mills threaded the needle to WR Chris Conley for a touchdown. I'm convinced that's not a throw Mills would've made a year ago. Conley wasn't wide open in the slightest and DB Terrence Brooks was actually in a pretty good position. But, Mills wasn't actually concerned with Brooks but, more so, Pitre coming from the other side. He knew he had to stick it on Conley and he did. Quickly.
The defense answered with a coverage sack on the next play. Clamps.
Mills took advantage of a size mismatch on the next play when he backshouldered a throw to TE Pharaoh Brown for a touchdown as Brown was covered by DB Tremon Smith. The Texans DB did all he could to physically battle Brown but he just didn't have enough size to match the 6-5 TE.
During the first team period, QB Davis Mills started off with three straight completions. On the second of those plays, he changed the play at the line of scrimmage and threw a dart to Brandin Cooks for his second completion. Then, to finish his set of plays, he threw brilliantly to Brevin Jordan on a crosser.
On the fourth play of the series, LB Blake Cashman showed up again to shut down an outside run play. I saw the play initially develop and I didn't originally see Cashman. Then, I saw this blur and WHAM! Cashman thudded up the RB for little to no gain.
QB Kyle Allen threw a dart on a deep dig route to WR Chris Conley on the first passing play of Allen's series of downs. Then, Allen closed down his series of plays with a bootleg that had everyone open. He chose to throw to a wide open TE Mason Schreck after his fake to the RB.
Every now and again, I find myself standing in the absolute right spot to see something that I love. Case in point, a few plays later, RB Marlon Mack took a handoff, starting one way and then immediately cutting back the other way. It was not exactly the way the play was seemingly designed but from where I was standing, I could see that hole too. As soon as I saw it, Mack planted his outside foot and broke back the other way into that open hole. Brilliant run.
Over the next dozen plays or fewer, I have "coverage sack" written down three different times and it jives with how I felt the defense was covering on Saturday. The D had some brilliant cover moments.
On the final team drill today, it was time for more red zone team work. On the first play of that series of downs, Mills lasered one to TE Pharaoh Brown for a touchdown. Brown had a step or two on the defender and that was all Mills needed to zip one to his TE for a walk in touchdown.
Rookie RB Dameon Pierce runs with so much power and explosiveness that I'm struck by his ability to cut a run back against the grain. He did that on the goal line and stuck one in the end zone as a result. He started to his left as the defense over pursued then he planted his outside foot and burst back the other way into the end zone.
Loved the Mills to Cooks completion on the deep out in this period..
A few plays later, fellow DL Ross Blacklock and Kurt Hinish teamed for a sack before Mills could throw complete to Chad Beebe.
LB Tae Davis then made two or three plays in a row down in the low red zone. He put a big hit on rookie WR Johnny Johnson III after one completion. Then, he blew up an outside run on the next play. Earlier in the practice during red zone seven-on-seven, he had a pass breakup on the goal line as well. Davis snatched my attention for sure on Saturday.
The rain started a little before the end of practice and it was a beautiful respite from the heat. It was only one day, but I'll take it. That said, it's time to tee it up and do it all over again tomorrow. See ya then, everyone!