It was quiet in the Texans' practice bubble Saturday afternoon, save for the usual humming of the air conditioner.
Then offensive line coach Joe Pendry barked out "hut!" and seconds later a piercing yelp resonated throughout the bubble. The quarterbacks at the south end of the field turned. So did the wide receivers and running backs. General manager Charley Casserly started walking north.
In one swift and menacing motion, Travis Johnson had bulled through an offensive lineman and knocked him to the ground. Johnson got so excited, he screamed and sprinted back to his defensive linemates, who were awaiting their turn in the one-on-one drill.
As impressive as the play was for Johnson, what might have been evern more impressive was the boundless energy that he displayed on that snap, and throughout Houston's two-day mini-camp.
"That's Travis' personality and it brings a certain energy," head coach Dom Capers said. "You have to have that to play defensive line. I like it, as long as it's positive. It brings energy to the team and you have to play defense with energy and passion."
Johnson literally bounced from drill to drill with the playful energy of a pre-schooler. You might say many of us would possess the same playfulness less than a week after becoming a first-round pick and an instant millionaire. But Johnson has always approached football this way, from high school to college and now to his first few days as a pro.
"It's a big transition but at the same time everybody's ready," Johnson said. "It's been a long time coming for a lot of people. But I just want to earn my keep just like everybody else."
Johnson indicated that the coaches in Tallahassee always told their players to get two percent better at every practice. If that's the case, the eight percent Capers saw over four mini-camp sessions impressed him.
"You saw some of his ability in this camp," Capers said. "He's explosive for a 300-pound guy. One of the things I liked is the couple of times he got knocked on the ground, he got right back up. That's a sign that he's been coached to do that. If you're on the ground, you need to get up and be chasing somebody."
The question is, how will Johnson fare when the veterans show up? We're guessing with his attitude, he'll acquit himself well.
"I think Travis is a smart enough guy to know that he has to come in and earn their respect," Capers said. "In this league, nobody is going to give you anything, whether you're the first pick in the draft or a free agent. It's a society of productivity and if you go out and produce, you'll earn respect."
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