“I don’t think anyone that I’ve played with can run it and catch it the way David can.” Running back Duke Johnson on teammate David Johnson
The Houston Texans held another day of padded practice outdoors at the Houston Methodist Training Center on Monday. In a normal season, the Texans might be holding joint practice with a team and/or preparing for the important third preseason game at New Orleans. But, it's a big week nonetheless for the coaching staff and players.
"We're trying to set up the next two weeks like two game weeks, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, scrimmage," head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien said. "That's how we're trying to do this. It's not exactly like a game week because obviously there's some differences. But this week and next week are big weeks for our football team."
Under overcast skies, the team practiced but the threat of a hurricane still looms over the Gulf coast. Coincidentally, the Texans dealt with an impending hurricane heading into preseason Week 3 at New Orleans back in 2017 when Harvey hit Houston. Hopefully, this storm fizzles out before it makes landfall, but in any case, O'Brien says the team is keeping a watchful eye on the weather this week with regular email updates from Jeff Schmitz, Texans vice president and Chief Information Officer.
"It looks like it's coming straight for us but it's going to veer off towards the east," O'Brien said. "I don't know, but we do have plans. We've got to do what we've got to do. We've got to adjust. If something happens where we can't practice or whatever, the most important thing is the safety of our players and their families and our coaches and their families and all the support staff and their families. So, that's how we would handle it."
Jacob Martin, now in his second season with the Texans, said "there's a tremendous difference" in his experience this year compared to last year when he was traded from Seattle. The third-year outside linebacker built a home gym this offseason and gained 21 pounds. Now weighing in at 247, Martin feels strong and has big goals for 2020.
"I think the sky's the limit," Martin said. "I'm excited to show what I'm capable of. I'm excited just to show off my versatility, my abilities to rush the passer and get after the passer. The ceiling is high for me. I'm not going to say what my personal goals are, but obviously it's double-digit sacks is what I'm chasing. That's the goal and that should be the outcome."
Tight end Kahale Warring practiced and got in some work with special teams.
"I mean he's doing what we're asking him to do," O'Brien said. "He covers some kicks. He's what you call a mid-sized guy that can run. He's got toughness, so he's doing a good job."
Running back Duke Johnson admits that despite setting a single-season high in rushing yards last season, he didn't feel like he completely had a grasp of the offense and playbook until Week 15 when he could just let loose.
Wide receiver Kenny Stills spoke to media after practice but questions were mainly about his continued commitment to anti-racism, police brutality and social justice initiatives. Stills admitted that the decision to opt out of 2020 was one he considered, both due to COVID-19 and so as not to lose momentum in the fight for racial equality.
"Obviously, you think about the safety of yourself, the safety of your family," Stills said. "You think about what's going on in our country right now. I feel like sports really are a distraction from the movement. I feel like there's other things that are way more important than playing football or playing sports at the moment. A lot of things went into the decision to opt out or play. I felt like, after speaking with people that I was close to and some of my teammates, that I can be more of a benefit to this team and to the movement on the inside, trying to be a leader, working with my teammates, working with the staff here, working with the league and knowing who our audience is in the NFL and trying to have as big of an impact and an influence on them as I can."
Houston Texans Training Camp resumes on Tuesday with practice at the Houston Methodist Training Center. Players have a day off on Wednesday with the team's first intra-squad scrimmage set for Thursday night at NRG Stadium.