The Texans take one more significant step towards the start of the season on Monday morning.
In addition to being a day closer, timewise, to the beginning of the 2014 campaign, the team will be in pads for the first time at training camp.
And that can't come quickly enough.
"I feel like training camp ramps up a little bit when the pads come on," defensive end J.J. Watt said. "Being a defensive lineman, that excites me quite a bit, obviously. But that's football. You play the
game with pads on."
The excitement isn't limited to players on Watt's side of the ball, either.
"I like the pads; that's how the game is played," wide receiver DeVier Posey said. "It's not in shorts and t-shirts, so I am looking forward to putting the helmet on and getting some smacking going on."
For head coach Bill O'Brien, it's another gauge in determining the readiness of his team.
"I want to see these guys do a good job with contact speed," O'Brien said. "I want to see these guys make sure that they take the meeting to the walk through and then ultimately for all of us, we're all here to produce on the field and win."
On Saturday and Sunday the Texans practiced outside at the Houston Methodist Training Center in the
morning, with afternoon walkthroughs indoors. During OTAs and minicamp in May and June the team didn't hit with pads on. For center Chris Myers, the physicality of Monday morning is a welcome change.
"It's been so long since the end of the season and to be able to put them all back on again, to get those kinks out, to get the rust out, and you slowly progress from there," Myers said. "It's pretty exciting around tomorrow morning."
Above all else, it's a chance for the Texans to get better, according to Watt.
"You get a chance to really go out there and improve your craft when you play with pads on," Watt said. "So I'm really looking forward to it."