A couple of weeks ago, I put together an ultimate the things that I would be watching closely in Training Camp 2021. So, how's that going thus far? Well, let's take a look.
11. Big Boy inside 9-on-7 work - this is one of my favorite things to watch because it's the first time that the big fellas on either side of the ball get to mix it up since they last put the pads on last January. It's loud. People are yelling. Intensity goes up a few notches. It's freakin' football!!
Daily Brew 7.30.2021 Update: The Texans won't put on pads until Tuesday of next week, so it'll be a little while until the paint swapping commences.
10. Rookie Nico Collins' route running, in addition to his ability to beat defensive backs deep - the rookie from Michigan does need a little work to become a pristine route runner but where he really shines is in taking the ball off the top of a defensive back's head deep down the field. What do they say in golf "drive for show, putt for dough"? Well, for Collins, his deep ball abilities are his driving off the tee, but refinement of his receiver skills will be what makes his dough, just like putting.
Daily Brew 7.30.2021 Update: Collins is physically impressive to say the least. Most big receivers don't make as smooth transitions out of cuts or sudden, agile movements like he does. He has also made an impression here by just putting his head down and getting to the work every single day.
9. Linebacker combinations - there are so many combinations that defensive coordinator Lovie Smith and linebackers coach Miles Smith can play around with during training camp. As such, I'm curious how they put them all together and which one(s) stand out as a result of being grouped together.
Daily Brew 7.30.2021 Update: I'm pretty sure that I've seen every single linebacker make a play during camp that caught my attention over the first three days. Furthermore, those plays have all been in coverage which was an issue the past couple of seasons at the linebacker position.
8. I love pass rush one-on-ones, even if the guys don't love that drill all that much. It's not the end-all, be-all, but it shows me which guys project to have the wherewithal to protect/rush effectively in a team setting.
Daily Brew 7.30.2021 Update: No pads yet, but that hasn't stopped the trench warriors from mixing it up on a daily basis. It's early in camp, but the clear winner in my opinion to this point has been defensive lineman Charles Omenihu. Inside or out, he's been a massive problem for most offensive linemen that he's faced.
7. Justin Britt at center - he mentioned at his press conference during the offseason how much wrestling plays a role for interior players on either side of the ball. As such, I want to see the center on this team knock people off the ball, not just stalemate interior defenders.
Daily Brew 7.30.2021 Update: I've stood next to him a few times and I'm just blown away. Physically, he's a tank. Furthermore, he seems to have taken the leadership role of the offensive front. If he is healthy and can stay healthy, the Texans will have a center who does more than just makes line calls and occupies space.
6. Defensive back Desmond King II - I've been a fan of King's dating back to his days at Iowa. His football IQ, smarts and overall on field acumen can be a huge boost for this defense in 2021.
Daily Brew 7.30.2021 Update: When he has to go inside and cover, it's one of the toughest things a defensive back has to do, but King has really no fear. He's had some really solid one-on-one cover moments and made a few plays on the ball too.
5. Running back Phillip Lindsay during inside run drill - He doesn't look like he'd be a guy that thrives on the interior based on his size, but he's a tough son of a gun and highly effective when running between the tackles. He's a fun dude to watch...and talk to, honestly.
Daily Brew 7.30.2021 Update: If there was a betting line for how much Texans fans will love Lindsay, I'd lay all the money that I have on them loving this guy. He's the perfect Texan for this team at this time.
4. Lonnie Johnson Jr. as a safety - I said it from the middle of his rookie year - he's a safety but he now has to take control of his game from the middle of the field and take control of this defense from that position.
Daily Brew 7.30.2021 Update: Unfortunately, we haven't seen Lonnie due to an injury but hopefully we'll see him on the field sometime soon.
3. Defensive tackle Ross Blacklock - he's as impressive physically as many guys that have worn a Texans jersey, but his rookie season was a complete wash out. He's going to feel a ton of pressure to live up to that 2nd round draft pick status in 2020 and there were glimpses at the end of last season that did get me excited about what he can do.
Daily Brew 7.30.2021 Update: The Moments, oh the Moments, can be just glorious and when the pads go on, I'll be locked on Blacklock a lot of the time. Those flashes are just so bright and make me giddy, but it has to happen more often and more consistently.
2. The lower body of rookie defensive tackle Roy Lopez Jr - I'm just envious, really, but his strength, explosive nature and twitch are impressive for a guy his size, in large part due to those thundering thighs, quads and backside.
Daily Brew 7.30.2021 Update: You'll see my note on Lopez Jr. from Day Three's Harris Hits/Observations. He's shown why he can be in the mix in 2021 and his growth in a veteran-laden defensive line crew is evident. I'm more bullish on this entire defensive line than I was heading into training camp and they haven't even put on pads yet.
1. Running back Mark Ingram II in a Texans jersey - that's just going to be odd and strange and really cool all at the same time. I'll have to remind myself, constantly, that Ingram II is indeed a Texan. That said, I want to see him capture some of that magic that he had when he went to Baltimore from New Orleans in 2019.
Daily Brew 7.30.2021 Update: It's still an odd sight, but one that I relish every day that he's on the field. He does not look 31 in the slightest and having fresh legs will make him a definite asset on this team in 2021.
Check out the best photos from the third day of Texans Training Camp presented by Xfinity.