As OTAs got rolling, I noticed how much things have solidified in the Bill O'Brien era. Last year, the roster and cosmetic changes jumped out dramatically. Things like no helmet logos, offense wearing blue instead of white and, oh yeah, a quarterback overhaul, stuck out prominently.
Take a look at photos from the Houston Texans' first day of OTAs.
Now we're fully settled into O'Brien's tenure, with a winning season in the rear view mirror and post season aspirations on the road ahead.
The quarterback play has ratcheted up with Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett and Tom Savage carving up reps in a system they are all familiar with. Savage, in year two, is noticeably more comfortable and commanding but all eyes are on Hoyer and Mallett to see how they fare in a race to be the chief signal caller.
Last year's OTAs featured four QBs who were all learning the O'Brien way for the first time. Now you have three who have experience and the improved proficiency in OTAs is palpable.
It's also great to see the rookies jumping around as first round pick Kevin Johnson's enthusiasm is impossible to miss. But it's last year's crop that will also be well worth watching as they try to make that profound season one-to season two leap in improvement.
Jadeveon Clowney was a spectator as he continues to mend his knee. O'Brien has previously said that he's tracking well. Xavier Su'a-filo, who missed last year's OTAs because of a late graduating class, is trying to make the most of the job options with his O-line mates after seeing limited action in 2014.
C.J. Fiedorowicz played a ton last season and should continue to develop as a pass catcher. And Louis Nix III is in the mix on the defensive line, saying his goal was to 'make it through a practice' knowing that health has kept him from contributing.
We can talk all day about wide receiver as Andre Johnson isn't part of the organization for the first time since 2002. Or we can debate safety possibilities alongside Rahim Moore. But we have plenty of time for that. The fact that the Texans are back, building their case for contention in 2015, is enough for now.
The Houston Texans roster in photos. (Updated 4/16/2021)