"He's all in. He's a football guy and I like that." Running backs coach Danny Barrett on Duke Johnson
The Texans practiced indoors at the Houston Methodist Training Center after back-to-back days outside. A number of players who sat out of Sunday's practice in full pads returned to the field including J.J. Watt, Johnathan Joseph and Will Fuller V. DeAndre Hopkins did not participate in what appeared to be a veteran rest day for him.
Tight end Jordan Thomas was dressed and ready to practice missing the majority of camp with an undisclosed injury. Thomas appeared to be close after catching passes from Deshaun Watson on Sunday.
"Getting J.T. (Thomas) back out there today was good," offensive coordinator Tim Kelly said. "To get him back out there and have him keep working on the things he needs to get better at which right now is knocking off a lot of rust and going out there and playing football. But that whole group has been doing a good job, Jordan Akins and Jerrell (Adams) and (Darren) Fells, in particular, really going out there and working hard."
In a day honoring the past, present and future, the Texans had a number of guests watching from the sidelines, from former players to a youth football team. Thirty Texans Legends got to catch up with each other in the VIP tent before heading inside to watch practice. Houston currently has six Texans Legends on staff: Anthony Weaver, Andre Johnson, T.J. Yates, Brian Cushing, Akeem Dent and J.J. Moses.
The Manvel Texans youth football team also watched practice and had a chance to take pictures with the Legends and current Texans players as part of their experience. Following practice, they also participated in an autograph session with the team.
Bill O'Brien did not address the media after practice, but the assistant coaches did for the first time since the start of training camp.
Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is looking to use eight-year veteran outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus differently this year in his defense.
"Whitney is one of those guys that – he had 12 sacks a couple of years ago – He's the ultimate team guy and he will do whatever we ask him to do and I think that we are going to try to move him around a little bit more this year than we did last year and see what that does for him," Crennel said.
Crennel is also confident that J.J. Watt can have an even better year than last year if he stays healthy.
Wide receivers coach John Perry compared Will Fuller's ability to get behind defenses similar to a salmon swimming upstream.
"He's the guy that can really take the top off of the defense," Perry said.
Perry said that rookie wideout Tyron Johnson can be dangerous with his speed and is fun to have around.
Running back Duke Johnson has been in the building and learning the offense. Tim Kelly said the Texans are excited to have the third-year player in the backfield.
Offensive line coach Mike Devlin said he has seen growth from rookie Tytus Howard since the start of camp.
"I see that progression," Devlin said. "Every snap he's learning, and last week's game was another step, a different defense, practicing during the week. Every rep he gets he soaks it all in and he's getting better."
John Pagano enjoys having former Texans linebacker Akeem Dent on the coaching staff and getting his insight as a player. While on the Chargers coaching staff, Pagano interviewed Dent at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Defensive line coach Anthony Weaver said has exchanged texts with Jadeveon Clowney to check in on him. The biggest challenge for the two-time Pro Bowl pass rusher will be to get himself ready for football, even though he has been working out.
"You're asking me to get the number one overall draft pick to get ready to play football? I can do that," Weaver said. "I will probably look like a pretty good coach too. That is an easy job for me."
The Texans players have a day off on Tuesday but will return for joint practices with the Detroit Lions on Wednesday and Thursday at the Houston Methodist Training Center.