We've reached that point of training camp when the countdown for the end of camp feels in reach. Tomorrow (Friday) is a travel day, Saturday is a game and Sunday is a day off. That leaves Monday through Thursday next week, just FOUR more days of training camp for the 2021 season. It feels like it just got here and now we're four more practices away from it being over. However, there's plenty of work left to do before we start thinking about the end of training camp, including today's workout - Day #18 at the Houston Methodist Training Center. It was, thankfully, a shorter practice with no pads, but I have a few Harris Hits - Training Camp Observations on Day 18, nonetheless.
The first observation is boxing gloves. I noticed one of the assistant coaches had on boxing gloves early in camp and it caught my attention, but it wasn't until today that it hit me (pun intended) that boxing gloves need to be a regular occurrence in football practice for a few reasons. I couldn't see who had them on as the offensive coaches were across the field, but I could see him pounding on the ball every time that a ball carrier went through the bags. So, ball security drills from now on should always include boxing gloves.
I'd also like to see defensive backs wear them in man coverage to keep from holding and grabbing. The receivers would love this drill until the defensive backs then turned the tables after the receivers made the catch and applied a swift punch or two to the ball to get it out. Either way, though, the defensive backs would need to focus on feet and technique as opposed to clutching and grabbing in man coverage.
So, yeah, I want boxing gloves at football practice from now on.
The start of the first team period was filled with completions. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor found Jordan Akins for a short gain on an impressive throw away from defender Zach Cunningham. Taylor then completed another short toss to receiver Brandin Cooks to start the day two for two.
The best throw and the best execution of the day might have been the throw he made to running back David Johnson up the field down the sideline. That's a throw that has to be zipped into a small spot, but if it is, the result can be not only aesthetically pleasing, but potentially a big gain. Taylor hit that small spot with the throw and Johnson sped up the field with the rock for a sizable gain.
Quarterback Davis Mills came on for his set of downs and after a Phillip Lindsay run and a bad shotgun snap, the rookie signal caller hit receiver Chris Moore with a laser shot. Moore must have been option two or three as Mills scanned the field. When he decided on Moore, Mills had to be concerned with the defensive back darting in to make a play on the ball. However, Mills put the ball on Moore's outside number such that the placement of the pass shielded defensive back Tremon Smith from knocking the pass away.
Then, it was time for seven-on-seven. Taylor missed the first throw of the period due in large part to glue-like coverage in the secondary. Then, he hit three straight, including the final one to Chris Moore again, who got his hands on four or five receptions in seven-on-seven and/or team periods on Thursday.
One of my favorite throws on the day came from Mills after Taylor stepped away. Tight end Jordan Akins headed up the field against zone coverage. It was evident to me as I watched Akins that he realized that it was zone coverage because he started to slow down to find the open area instead of just running into coverage. He didn't really have to worry about it, though, as Mills threw him into an open area. Mills threw the pass, one that probably was designed to be more of an outside throw, to an inside spot. Akins made the adjustment as he was on the same page as his quarterback and the two teamed up for one of the better completions of the day.
Once that drill concluded, the units headed for the red zone and a team red zone period. That condensed area can be ultra-tough for quarterbacks and the defense certainly rebounded for some stops as a result. Of course, not before receiver Brandin Cooks caught a wide open touchdown, seemingly, on a blown coverage and then a slant route off a perfectly executed play.
After that, though, the defense locked it up. On the third play of the drill, Tyrod Taylor was forced to scramble with no one open at all. Then, there was no open option on the next play either as Taylor couldn't connect with his receiver Chris Conley, blanketed by defensive back Terrance Mitchell at the back of the end zone.
A couple of plays later, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill made just a tremendous play in coverage on the goal line. He was in man coverage matched up against tight end Ryan Izzo. Initially, it appeared that Izzo had position and perhaps a half step on Grugier-Hill. However, the Texans linebacker essentially slingshot himself in front of Izzo to finish with the one pick the defense had during the day. Slingshot...ENGAGE (name the movie reference...GO).
The final drill of the day was a "moving the football" drill. Taylor started the drive with a run and a completion to tight end Pharaoh Brown. However, linebacker Zach Cunningham came up with a pass breakup on third down to slow that series of downs.
Then, Davis Mills stepped back into the quarterback spot and was unceremoniously "sacked" by defensive lineman Charles Omenihu. He didn't take Mills to the ground or anything, but it's a, uh, training camp sack (in essence, what would've been a sack during the game - these can always start some controversy, but not this time as Omenihu was in the backfield in a quick second).
Okay, that's going to do it as the Texans got their work done and got out so they could start prepping for the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night. See ya then, everyone!
Check out the top photos from Day 18 of Texans Training Camp presented by Xfinity.