Vandermeer's View: Rookies take first steps


It's a gradual baptism for rookies getting into the NFL. They've gone through the rigors of pre-draft workouts and now get their first taste of working on an NFL practice field at this weekend's camp. And as the Carpenters once sang "We've only just

begun" (excuse the dated reference but a few of you more 'seasoned' fans had that played at your wedding.)

I'll leave all the nuances of the on-field work to John Harris' observations column. I will tell you that Will Fuller V's first day reminded me of DeAndre Hopkins' initial action at the Houston Methodist Training Center. He made a lot of big plays and if you had to unknowingly pick the first round draft choice out of the bunch it was unmistakably him.

The lone quarterback in camp is Chuckie Keaton, unless you include Texans Offensive Assistant Pat O'Hara, who is fully capable of helping out to keep Keaton's arm fresh in certain drills throughout the three days. Keaton, from Cypress Creek, saw a promising college career at Utah State derailed by injuries. He's trying to make the most of this chance to try out for the Texans.

"It's incredible to be here in my hometown but I just have to focus on my job and get better" He said. It's been a unique path and long road just to have this opportunity but Keaton is trying to keep things in front of him. "It's been different but I can't really focus on the past, I have to move forward. It's a whole lot of fun to be out here with these players and coaches."

I haven't gotten to interview the place kicker Kai'imi Fairbairn yet. His real first name has 30 letters and three apostrophes (and I was just getting the hang of spelling Su'a-filo). Fairbairn will be interesting to watch. He won the Lou Groza award (the kicking Heisman) and is good at touchbacks.

I did get to talk to former Alabama wide receiver Richard Mullaney who has the catchy nickname of 'Slottie Pippen.' He told me about it (I think reluctantly. He's trying out for Bill O'Brien, after all). "My teammate found it on Twitter." He said. " Some Alabama fan did it. My teammate took it from there and made it locker-room-wide." 

There's a long way to go and a lot to cover. Most of the players in action this weekend won't make the 53-man roster. But,there are always a few long shots who power through to eventually earn an NFL living. In any case, It's great to see football back at NRG Park.

See photos from the first day of Texans rookie minicamp on Friday.

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