"The neighbors were giving me some looks. We had a couple walking a dog stop, like, ‘what are you doing?'" Center Nick Martin on his offseason home workouts on the front lawn.
The Houston Texans practiced outdoors at the Houston Methodist Training Center on Sunday. J.J. Watt made his training camp debut for the first time since the team began practicing in full pads August 14. Watt has been on a ramp-up schedule, like many of the veterans.
"We are managing J.J. this year," associate head coach Romeo Crennel said. "We're not putting him out there all the time. Particularly in practice you know. Trying to manage him in practice so that he can be ready for the games and he will be able to play and produce at a high level in the games. I think that he will do that when we get to the games. But he is strong. He is good looking and when he puts that uniform on, he is an opposing figure."
The Texans also added two free agents, including linebacker Daren Bates, an eight-year veteran who spent the last three seasons with the Tennessee Titans.
"He's been a very productive special teams linebacker," head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien said. "He played at Tennessee and Oakland and Tracy Smith had a familiarity with him. And then we also added a long snapper, linebacker named Anthony Kukwa."
Wide receiver Brandin Cooks had a highlight-reel worthy practice, making some big sideline catches in coverage.
"Yeah, he's been working," O'Brien said. "He's been working hard. He's a real pro. He just works and he's got good speed. He can catch. He runs really good routes – really good route runner. Just a real competitive guy. Really good playing strength. Yeah it was a good day."
Nick Martin said his favorite piece of gym equipment for home workouts is the sled. Martin borrowed it from the Texans team facility this offseason and trained with some of his teammates.
"It's a really good work for the quads, the legs and then you can – it's good o-line work, right?" Martin said. "You put weight on it, it's like a dry block. I think it's one of the best conditionings you can do. It's hard to get in football shape unless you're playing football, but it kind of emulates a block. Those short bursts against some big weight really helps out."
Crennel recalled some of the other unusually historic NFL seasons he has seen in his nearly 40 years of coaching in the league. He recalled what game week looked like in the NFL strike of 1982, when Crennel was on the New York Giants coaching staff.
"That strike, we were preparing every week like we were getting ready to play and then usually on a Thursday or a Friday, they would tell us that we're not playing this week," Crennel said. "You know, so we'd game plan and we'd have everything ready. (Bill) Belichick and I would go play racquetball, you know, in the racquetball court to pass the time away after we got the game plan and stuff together. And then, we didn't play."
At 73 years old, Crennel is considered one of the higher risk groups for COVID-19. He explained his decision to not opt out of the 2020 season.
"I'm a football coach," Crennel said "I'm in the game of football and so when they say let's play, even though I'm high-risk, I see what we're trying to do to protect the players and the coaches with social distancing. I mean they got hand sanitizers all throughout the building. They clean it constantly. I feel like they're trying to be proactive and protecting us that way. I feel like I want to give it a shot and see what happens and hopefully, knock wood, that it's not a bad outcome."
Benardrick McKinney said defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver kept the defense engaged with fun, interactive and competitive Zoom meetings during the offseason. Position groups competed against each other in quiz games of Kahoot to test their knowledge of the playbook.
-McKinney says inside linebackers were the winners and among them, Stanford alum Peter Kalambayi with the quick answers.
Houston Texans Training Camp resumes on Monday with practice at the Houston Methodist Training Center.