On Tuesday, the Texans depart for West Virginia. For the first time in franchise history, the team will hold camp at a site other than right across the street from NRG Stadium at the Houston Methodist Training Center.
What are the benefits of holding camp away from Houston?
1. Cooler temperatures
Getting away from 100-degree temperatures and stifling humidity is probably the biggest change with practicing outside of Houston.
This time of year, the average temperature in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia is just 82 degrees. Cooler temperatures mean fewer instances of dehydration and higher energy levels. It also affords more flexibility in practice schedule.
"The nice thing about going to a place like the Greenbrier is you can pick whatever time you want to practice," head strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald said. "You can get used to playing at certain times. If a preseason game is at 4 or 7, you could practice then."
The Texans currently are scheduled to practice at 10:30 ET/ 9:30 CT, a later start time than Houston training camp practices.
2. More production
Practicing in full pads in triple-degree heat also cuts down on productivity. More physical exertion is required to accomplish the same amount of work in extreme heat and humidity.
"There's a lot of psychological benefits," Director of Sports Science Erik Korem said. "Being in the cooler enviroments, I think Tom Landry started the whole deal when he took (the Cowboys) to Thousand Oaks because he felt like they could get more reps in a cooler temperature so I think you have less residual fatigue."
Hot-weather teams like the Cowboys and New Orleans Saints have typically moved camp cooler climates. The Cowboys, who held camp at Cal Lutheran University from 1963 to 1989, now practice in Oxnard, California. The Greenbrier hosted the Saints for training camp from 2014 to 2016.
3. Team unity
For Bill O'Brien and the coaching staff, getting the team together without outside distractions is probably the biggest benefit of training camp. Under O'Brien, the Texans have traveled to Denver, Washington, and Santa Clara for joint practices.
"My first three years here we've gone away to scrimmage teams and they've been really good bonding experiences for our team, good chemistry-type experiences for our team, whether we went to Denver our first year or Washington our second year," O'Brien said.
The Texans will scrimmage against another team for the fourth consecutive season. Houston will hold two joint practices against the Patriots on Aug. 15 and 16. The two teams return to Houston for their preseason game in Week 2. The Texans will hold two open practices at the Houston Methodist Training Center on Aug. 21 and 22.
Houston Texans Training Camp presented by XFINITY will begin on Wednesday, July 26 with fifteen practice sessions open to the media and public.