The Houston Texans were back at practice in full pads for Day 7 of Texans Camp at the Houston Methodist Training Center. Wednesday's practice took place primarily on Field 2 since no fans were in attendance.
The team got its first red-zone period in full pads this camp and some good team periods. Defensive coordinator Lovie Smith is pleased with how the transition to his 4-3 base defense is coming along so far.
"Very pleased with the installation," Smith said. "We've had a chance to put in different situations right now. The guys have been coachable. You want competition as much as anything in training camp to get a chance to see exactly who the players are. It does, it starts up front and we have some guys, quite a few guys that we want to see that we think can contribute. The linebackers have been awesome and the secondary is all kind of coming together a little bit, if you can say that after a week of practice."
Smith emphasized the importance of practicing forcing turnovers and creating opportunities to gain possession of the ball.
Offensively, each of the three quarterbacks at practice, Tyrod Taylor, Davis Mills and Jeff Driskel, showed improvement as well. Taylor continued to show great pocket presence, finding wide receivers Keke Coutee and Nico Collins early in practice during a team period.
"He's got a really good control of the huddle," offensive coordinator Tim Kelly said. "He's doing a good job of leading that offense."
The Texans ran their first red zone period of camp last Saturday, but only in shorts and shells. With full pads, the quarterbacks got another chance to improve in Wednesday's practice.
"You can see improvement, (Mills) threw a couple of touchdowns for us," Kelly said. "The big thing with him is continuing to get better every single day he's on the field and he's doing that. He's working at it and it's a lot. It's a lot that we put on that position. With Jeff, you can really see his athleticism has taken over at times. He's got a strong arm. For him, for a guy that's played in the league, just really getting comfortable with our terminology and what we're looking for when we call certain plays."
In just his second day back off the Active/Non-Football Injury list, tight end Pharaoh Brown caught a touchdown pass from Taylor in that same 7-on-7 period.
During 7-on-7 red zone work, Mark Ingram II made a nice move to get open along the sideline.
Linebacker Christian Kirksey got his hand on the ball for a tipped pass.
David Johnson had a spin move and gained a few extra yards during a team period.
Defensive back Shyheim Carter got his hands on the ball for a near interception but couldn't hang on to it. He immediately dropped to the ground and did some pushups as retribution.
Jordan Akins caught a beautiful pass in the back corner of the end zone during team red-zone work.
Mark Ingram ran hard and had a carry that moved the offense down to the six-yard line.
Second-year receiver Isaiah Coulter beat his man in the endzone to catch a touchdown pass from Mills.
Wide receiver Chris Moore, who spent five seasons with the Baltimore Ravens (2016-20), says head coach David Culley one of the main reasons why he signed with the Texans.
"He was my receivers coach in Baltimore and I loved him as a coach so when he asked me to come here, I was ecstatic so I jumped on board," Moore said.
Rookie defensive lineman Roy Lopez is having himself a good camp so far and garnered early attention during padded practices.
"Roy Lopez, he's flashed, he's flashed is what he's done," Smith said. "He will be playing the nose guard position for us, but he's a nose guard with a little bit of three-technique, athletic ability because he's got a little big of wiggle to him also. Strong, compact, has done some good things."
Smith also mentioned several players that have position flexibility, including defensive lineman Charles Omenihu.
"You see him lining up for us, has a three technique in more passing situations. For second down, six technique. So, we have a few guys with position flexibility that will help on game day. We'll let him go."
Special teams coordinator Frank Ross was asked about his scouting background. Ross was a special teams assistant coach for the Indianapolis Colts from 2018-20. Prior to that, Ross worked as a pro scout with the New England Patriots from 2015-17 and won Super Bowl LI with the team. He believes evaluating players helped set up the foundation for his coaching career.
"Special teams coaches, that's what we do," Ross said. "We're touching every single player on the team from the left guard on the field goal unit to the left guard on the punt team. So we evaluate everything. Yeah, absolutely, blessing in my life that started, and that was a foundational piece for how to work through looking at talent. So things like that."
His time with the Patriots overlapped with Rex Burkhead who is also having a solid camp so far. Burkhead's experience in the league and familiarity with the scheme certainly will help him make the transition to the Texans, according to Ross.
"Rex comes from a similar coaching tree and I would say having experience in that scheme has been really good for him, picking up where he left off and adding in the new stuff here," Ross said. "He's been very experienced and the detail is impressive."
Ingram was mic'd up and had the Texans video crew laughing with his running commentary throughout practice.
"You liked that, didn't you?" Ingram said as he walked off the practice field.
The Texans will be back for Day 8 of Training Camp practice Thursday at the Houston Methodist Training Center.
Check out the best photos from Day 7 of Training Camp presented by Xfinity.