OTAs are the warm-up band to the season: They're not the main attraction but we're here for some rock 'n roll and even if Zeppelin doesn't come on til September, it's always a good time to jam.
Coming up in this piece – the Top 3 Warm-up bands I've ever seen. Drop me a line on Twitter at @TexansVoice to let me know your top 3.
I told you so. Well, John Harris and I both did.
On Monday's Texans All Access show (Weeknights 6-7 pm on Sports Radio 610 or via Podcast right here) we predicted that Davis Mills getting the bulk of the first team reps would set the media world aflame. Mills has started 25 NFL games – including the last one the Texans played – so this isn't exactly strange.
But make no mistake, C.J. Stroud is getting a ton of reps too. There's plenty of on-the-job training taking place, and both C.J. and Davis have said The Big Thing is improving as individual football players.
"The big thing is trying to focus on myself," Davis said. "Trying to get better every day. Trying to put a lot of work in. Some of my weaknesses from previous years, trying to make those my strengths now. Biggest thing is kind of putting my head down and getting better each day."
In that same press conference, C.J. said, "The one thing that kind of sticks out for me is keep the main thing the main thing. If you take care of football, then everything will take care of itself. Right now, just trying to focus on ball."
Yelp Review ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Well, technically it's 4.5 stars but the emoji library is letting me down more than the final episode of The Sopranos. It would be five but for some reason the weather had the nerve to behave in semi-August fashion. It's good the players from up north get a little taste of this now, though.
I'm one of those people who wasn't born here but 'got here as fast as I could.' It always amazes me when native Texans complain about the heat in May. Are you new here!? We're all going to be on the surface of the sun in a couple of months. We'll be begging for these delightful days, so enjoy 'em while you got 'em.
OK, back to football.
Drills were crisp, fast. The talent level has noticeably gone up. And it was great to see the seedlings of the new systems sprout on both sides of the ball.
Position groups that caught my eye
It's not necessarily what they are doing in May but just seeing Dameon Pierce and Devin Singletary together is like a double shot of espresso. Adding the starting running back from a team that went 13-3 is such a boost.
Seeing Derek Stingley Jr. back, seeing former 49er pillar Jimmie Ward out there – as Dom Capers used to say, 'The arrow is pointing up!'
Not really a position group, but: Coaching staff
I still sometimes do a mental double-take: 'DeMeco Ryans is our head coach!?' It's exciting, encouraging and calming all at once. Bobby Slowik on the walkie-talkie calling plays is fun to watch as he operates the offense. Some of the plays remind me of the Kubiak-era bootleg stuff. It's from the same tree but new branches and ideas have sprung.
Now, for the Top 3 warm-up bands, in reverse order
3. A tie between Todd Rundgren's Utopia warming up for the Tubes in 1983 and .38 Special opening for the Rossington-Collins Band (Who? More on them in a moment) in '79.
2. Cheap Trick warming up for Rush and UFO in '77.
Editor: Vandermeer, you're THAT old?
Boss, I was literally 13 when I saw that show, and you're only as old as you feel. Now why don't you go back to complaining about the heat!
1. Lynyrd Skynyrd warming up for Ted Nugent at Madison Square Garden in '77, if it had actually happened.
The sad thing about that show was that Skynyrd never made it. Their tragic plane crash was less than a month before the gig, which Nugent played anyway.
If you've seen Skynyrd since 1978 it's not the same band as the one that spurred endless plays of Sweet Home Alabama and Free Bird. Some of the surviving members remained in the group. Gary Rossington and Allen Collins briefly formed that group that I previously mentioned. But losing Ronnie Van Zandt was like the Patriots losing Tom Brady. They've never been the same.
Back to football, again. The media has been out to one practice and rookie camp. But the players are spending a whole lot more time than that together in meetings and on the field. This is the groundwork for the entire campaign, especially for a young team. We're in the embryonic stages of what this will become. I can't wait for what's next.