The Texans had been in pads for the entire week so on Sunday, it was time to take it back to shorts and T-shirts. For the players, a day off of banging in the heat, combined with a day off on Monday can do wonders for bodies, minds and spirits. It becomes even more important on the other end of the off day when it's a pseudo game week. Sure, it's not like a regular season game week, but the carrot i.e. Preseason game #1 v. New Orleans dangling out there at the end of the week is a big one for this squad. Truly can't wait for next Saturday, but we've got some work to do to get there, including today's workout at the Houston Methodist Training Center. As such, here are my Harris Hits from Day #8 at Texans Camp.
I love standing at practice where I normally stand during a game. I have a view sometimes on things that are hard to see in other spots. Case in point, seven-on-seven took place down in the red zone and I had a great look at something that seemed innocuous on the surface but really wasn't. On the second play of the series, QB Davis Mills dropped to throw and saw WR Brandin Cooks open in the hole of a zone. It looked like a simple completion, but from my vantage point, I could see how Mills threw the ball smartly. He threw to a point where he led Cooks away from the linebacker on the inside, in front of the safety coming from the outside. Sometimes simple isn't as simple as it looks; little nuances like this are so cool in the game.
On the next play, Mills threw quickly down the seam to rookie TE Teagan Quitoriano but rookie DB Jalen Pitre exploded to the rookie pass catcher to break up the pass. When I saw it again on the big board video, it was even more impressive because Pitre broke before Mills took his hand off the ball. Making it even more impressive was the fact that Mills didn't waste any time deciding to throw the ball, releasing just as his back foot hit the ground at the top of his drop.
The next throw in seven-on-seven was perhaps one of the best I've seen Mills make throughout Texans Camp. Now, I've got to give credit to the defense because it would've been a sack, so let's be very clear on that. But, the coaches let the play continue when Davis bailed to his left side. As he ran to his left, he slowed to collect himself a bit and threw back across his body to the back of the end zone to WR Phillip Dorsett for a touchdown. So, a sack and a touchdown - kudos to each side for both.
QB Kyle Allen made one of his best throws of the past few days on a toss to Brevin Jordan. Allen, then, completed the next three throws in the drill. The one I really liked, in addition to that first throw, was his last one to WR Chad Beebe. When Allen dropped, he wanted Jordan on a route in the middle of the field. But, the defense put clamps on Jordan, so Allen scanned and found Beebe for a completion.
I mentioned rookie TE Teagan Quitoriano and he finished the seven-on-seven drill with a catch for a touchdown. Hopefully, the big fella can get himself back close to 100% for the preseason games to show what he can really do. Nice to see him get involved, though, to end that series.
With the pads off, it wasn't a day to dive into the work of the OL/DL unless, UNLESS one of them picked off a pass or punched out the ball. DL Jon Greenard nearly did just that when he almost repeated his intercepting ways from the previous practice. He slid into the middle after a rush and timed his arrival just as Mills cocked his arm to throw. He leapt and had the pass hit him right in the hands. RIGHT. IN. HIS. HANDS. But, he couldn't hang on. Now, I'll admit that's not the easiest thing in the world, but I've seen 52 do some amazingly athletic things on a field so I thought he might pull that one in.
As I looked back at my notes from practice, I was struck by something Texans head coach Lovie Smith said after practice in his presser. He responded to a question and a media member followed up with "So, that's that old school mentality?" Lovie responded "It's old school but it's new school. It's winning football." That one sentence defines this entire team. I see it in all three phases. I've seen offensive plays that some might consider old school, but dressed up differently so they have a new school approach. Same on defense. Old School values, new school approach. That should be on a T-Shirt.
With DB Derek Stingley getting a designated day off, DB Isaac Yiadom jumped in to take a bunch of reps at cornerback. He had a great PBU on a slant to WR Connor Wedington. Yiadom made a tremendous break to, and through, the Texans WR.
QB Jeff Driskel made one of his best throws of camp down the field to rookie WR Johnny Johnson III on a great double move. The OL/RB picked up the blitz perfectly and Driskel lofted one into the end zone to the former Oregon Duck star.
First play of the second team session, QB Davis Mills sold the you know what out of play action and LB FLEW to the line of scrimmage. However, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis went straight robot technique and sprinted back into the line of the throw. Mills threw complete to Cooks just an inch or two over Pierre-Louis' outstretched hands. Great throw. Great route. Great RECOVERY by Pierre-Louis as well.
I like watching rookie RB Dameon Pierce run; I love his vision even more. He seems to see things develop where there was seemingly nothing initially. Case in point, he started on an outside path on one run a few plays after Cooks' catch. Then, he cut it back and burst upfield. I started writing in my notes about the play and I actually wrote "not sure why he cut it back". Then, I saw the play up on the video board and he saw the opening and burst through it just as he should have. He was right on his running choice again. It's just fun to see a young player grow and evolve right in front of our eyes.
A few plays later, QB Kyle Allen rocketed one to WR Chris Conley on a deep dig. It took a long time to develop but the pitch, route and catch were nice.
The situation to end practice was as follows: 58 seconds, no time out, down by one, started -35 yard line. After an incompletion to start, Mills hit WR Chris Moore in the middle of the field which kept the clock running. Mills got the offense back to the line of scrimmage and hit RB Marlon Mack over near the sideline. Then, Mills hit Moore around the +30 yard line in the middle of the field. As the clock wound down, Mills calmly got everyone to the line, settled in and spiked the ball with four seconds remaining. K Kai'mi Fairbairn coolly knocked home the field goal from about 47-48 yards to end the practice. Now, THAT was the right way to end practice v. how things went in the end of game situation on Saturday.
So, that'll do it for the weekend practices at the Houston Methodist Training Center. The team will get a day off but we'll be back for Texans Camp Live on Sportsradio 610 at 8 am on Monday. See ya then, everyone and, of course, thanks again for reading!