The Texans donned shoulder pads and helmets Sunday morning, and training camp got a bit more physical. And that's fine with defensive end J.J. Watt.
"We haven't gotten to play in a while so it feels good to play real football," Watt said. "Put the pads on, bang some heads and have some fun. Anybody can look good in shorts, it's what happens when you put the pads on that you get to actually see who is really good."
The team started outside at the Houston Methodist Training Center promptly at 8 a.m. Around 9:15, they headed inside for the final portion of practice. The time spent on the grass in the open air was full of pads crunching, grunting and ramped up competition compared to the first two days of camp.
"This is when you find out who's got it," Watt said. "Who is a football player and who is a guy who looks like he could be a football player. This is what gets your juices going. If you're a real player, if you're a guy who loves the game, you love coming out to practice with the pads on because you get to hit every single day and you get to prove yourself."
Head coach Gary Kubiak was also pleased by what he saw Sunday morning, and saw an element of unity beginning to grow.
"I thought we were very good, guys competing," Kubiak said. "But this is when the team really starts to come together, when you're out there banging on each other and guys have got to carry their pads around.
I just told the players, 'That's why there's all kind of guys that can play this game.' It's not always the fastest or this or that. There's a spot for everybody and being able to play in your pads and being a physical player and think has a lot to do with it. We start to separate ourselves today with stuff like that."
The team was without a handful of players due to injury and illness, and Kubiak elaborated on that here.
Offensive lineman Derek Newton, who's returning from offseason knee surgery, was also happy to see his teammates mix it up Sunday morning.
"I've been ready to go for a long time," Newton said. "Sitting back and watching, you get anxious, but my team held it down while I was out and I'm ready to provide now that I'm back."
The Texans resume work inside on Sunday afternoon.