Texans head coach Dom Capers walked into the team auditorium Saturday afternoon wearing a Hawaiian-style shirt and the slight smile of a pleased football coach.
He seemed refreshed. Like he just returned from an island vacation.
Ironically, his team is coming off a 31-17 preseason loss to the Denver Broncos. But he saw enough from his starters to make him feel good about the upcoming season.
"I felt we looked more like what I'd like our football team to look like the first half," Capers told the media. "I thought we were more competitive. I thought we showed much improvement from what we did the week before."
He said he hopes his team can show similar improvement in future weeks like it showed between a 38-3 defeat to Pittsburgh and Friday's game in Denver.
It started with a 10-play, 76-yard opening drive for a touchdown against the Broncos.
"Offensively I liked the way we opened the game," Capers said. "We came out and I thought we set a good tempo.
"I like our first team offense and the drives they've been able to put together in all three games. They've done a good job taking care of the ball. We just have to continue to work to tie everything together."
Starting running back Domanick Davis saw his first action after suffering with an ankle injury through most of training camp. He provided 69 yards of offense on nine touches.
The offensive line has its holes like any position on the team at this point in the preseason, but Capers was overall impressed with their performance in the running game.
The new zone-blocking scheme opened multiple holes for multiple running backs. The Texans finished with 187 rushing yards.
"Really by far it was the best run production we've had during the preseason," Capers said. "That's very encouraging because it sets the tempo for everything else you should do."
Of course there were some negatives from the game besides the final score.
The Texans had one opportunity – first-and-goal at the six-yard line – that was hampered by an illegal formation penalty. The flag pushed the offense back to the 11-yard line and three players later Kris Brown kicked a field goal.
Pitts is switching to guard this season, which will also be the first for Wand at tackle.
"I think they're making progress," Capers said of the linemen. "Again, I think our run blocking is much improved. There's a couple situation from a pass standpoint we just have to work to clean up. I think it's probably accentuated when you go against a Pro Bowl pass rusher."
On defense the Texans gave up 422 total yards, but only 129 yards on the ground. The unit held the Broncos to field goals off two turnovers. Capers said the team also did a better job on first down.
One thing the defense needs to work on – strikes down the field.
Rookie cornerback Dunta Robinson was beat on one play by wide receiver Darius Watts, resulting in a 45-yard gain.
"We continued to give up too many big plays so that's an area we need to work on," Capers said.
The team returns to practice Sunday to prepare for the final preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The roster must be trimmed to 65 players by Aug. 31.
QUOTABLE:Capers on Robinson's being too aggressive on some plays: "It's part of being a rookie. He's an aggressive player. You saw him break last night and make a really nice tackle out in the flat. It's all part of the learning process he's going through. There's not a corner in the league that doesn't get beat. If you're a rookie out there they're going to test you."
INJURY REPORT:Defensive back Jason Bell (concussion), linebacker Jay Foreman (hip flexor strain), Robinson (hip flexor strain) and defensive end Gary Walker (groin) are not expected to practice Sunday afternoon.
Capers said linebackers Jason Babin and Antwan Peek, who missed the game Friday will likely return to practice Sunday. Cornerback Vontez Duff, defensive end Terrance Martin and running back Jonathan Wells are also expected to return to practice on a limited basis.