Fast, Physical and Fastidious. That's how I'd describe the first week of Texans training camp.
I know you're sick of reading about weather. And I won't belabor the point. But the Texans have seemingly glided through sessions at the Houston Methodist Practice fields here in West Virginia. Gone are the 'how hot is it?' rhetorical questions. It's all about getting better.
Houston is also working fast. Bill O'Brien has often talked about playing faster. Well, he's now got enough players who know his system that he's able to put the throttle down a bit more.
Think about it. Last season, in a three wide set, he was breaking six new players into his system (Lamar Miller, Will Fuller V, Braxton Miller, Nick Martin, Jeff Allen and Brock Osweiler). This season, all the regulars know the drill. It's a huge plus.
Three days in pads, heading into a day off, gave the team a seasonal re-baptism into the type of ball O'Brien wants to play. Sure he wants to be able to throw it around. And yes, it's a game-plan offense. But often, the plan is to be a meat and potatoes running team that seeks to smash mouth its will on opponents.
Factoring into that is the stable of running backs that looks much improved with Lamar Miller sporting fresh legs coming out of the off season. And thick third round draft choice D'Onta Foreman shows a knack for running between the tackles. Don't be surprised if Foreman is getting a bunch of those late game, kill-the-clock type handoffs this year.
Also, Tyler Ervin is proving that the more polished look he displayed in OTAs was no fluke. He can run and catch and inspire colorful on air debates about the amount of touches he should get per game, like the one John Harris and I had.
On the quarterbacks, it's clear Tom Savage and DeAndre Hopkins have some early chemistry going. Hopkins is to the Texans what a great scorer is to a basketball team. He's a reliable, high percentage option for a quarterback and is probably the most enjoyable player to watch in these sessions. Deshaun Watson continues to take advantage of a lot of reps as he learns the system and the NFL.
Fuller V and Braxton Miller look better this season, as Miller has clearly taken a leap in the crispness of his routes. The tight ends will be big factors in the attack once again. And the offensive line is gelling with Kendall Lamb getting action at right tackle, Jeff Allen looking like he's eager for a better year than 2016 and Nick Martin ready to begin what Mike Mayock said on 2016 draft weekend would be a productive '10 year' career.
Let's not forget about last year's number one defense. This merry band of marauders is super competitive with the offense and is very tight off the field. Kevin Johnson is back after missing team action in OTAs. The front seven can make a case to be the best in football.
But we're just getting started. O'Brien has been able to do so much situational work because he's in the fourth year here and his players know the script. The intense focus they are giving here in West Virginia is totally necessary to help the Texans deal with the challenges they face in a tough schedule and an improving AFC South.
Check out some of the best shots from the first week of training camp at The Greenbrier in West Virginia.