The Houston Texans shed their pads for a heavy day of situational work outside at the Houston Methodist Training Center. Afterwards, players got in some conditioning with sideline-to-sideline sprints.
"Today was a big mental day," head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien said. "I mean they ran. We ran them, but it was not a contact day. So it was a lot of situations – end of the game, end of the half, special teams situations. You have a checklist of things that you have to get done before the season starts. Like I was saying the other day, tomorrow would be our third preseason game, so this is usually when you get a majority of the things done this week headed into your fourth preseason game."
Deshaun Watson addressed the media after practice and discussed why everyone, from teammates to coaches, is saying he appears more comfortable in Year 4.
"The leadership, the knowledge of the offense, what we want to do as a whole, has been simplified for me just because it's Year Four for me," Watson said. "Having that comfortability and having that confidence on exactly what we've been learning over the past three years now getting into my year four and being with Tim (Kelly) and spending a whole year last year on his mindset and what he's thinking and now he's the play-caller."
Watson also said that he knows what offensive coordinator Tim Kelly is thinking before each situation in practice, the two are so in sync in their communication and thinking.
Will Fuller V shouldn't just be referred to as a deep threat. The speedy wideout has a route tree that can make him dangerous in any part of the field.
"I think Will runs the whole route tree," O'Brien said. "I know he's known for the deep shots because he's really, really good at those and he's had connections with Deshaun (Watson) over the years, but he's a really good route runner. He can run the short stuff. We use him everywhere. We use him in the slot. We use him on the outside. He can run 20-yard in-cuts and he can run the 12-yard slant routes. We use him in a lot of different ways and we'll continue to do that."
The offense did have a hiccup at the end of one of their drives. Head coach and general manager dropped and gave the team pushups, much to the entertainment of his players.
Inside linebacker Zach Cunningham is headed into Year 4 after a 2019 campaign with single-season career highs in almost every statistical category. The AFC's leading tackler (137) feels like he left plays on the field last year and has set personal goals to improve in run coverage and pass defense.
"One thing with me, I always try to improve my game day by day and game by game," Cunningham said. "That's carried with me year to year and I've seen that increasing in my level of play as the years have gone on."
The tight end group has been impressive so far in camp, but one rookie also has stood out to O'Brien. Dylan Stapleton (6-5, 242), an undrafted player out of James Madison, is having himself a pretty good camp.
"He just is smart and takes to coaching very well," O'Brien said. "He knows how to, when we coach him, how to run a man route versus a zone route and he carries that to the field. He doesn't space out and forget what we told him in the meetings, and then he can catch the ball and then he's a willing blocker. He's young and he has a long way to go, but he's willing to do what we're asking him to do."
The Texans players have a day off on Saturday, but training camp practice will resume on Sunday at the Houston Methodist Training Center.