April 19, 2014

The Risers Coming Out of Texans OTAs

Sam Montgomery, #57

The Houston Texans wrapped up OTAs last week and after 10 practices the team got some quality work done prior to mini-camp. Rookies were introduced to the veterans and they experienced NFL level practices. While the veterans shook of some rust from the off-season, they still worked out efficiently under controlled circumstances.

The seasoned veterans on the team took days off to give some of the younger players some much-needed reps, but overall the team was focused on the task at hand. Even without pads there were some standouts during the 10 days and they showed some solid progression heading into mandatory mini-camp.

 

The Rookies

 

Cierre Wood #43

Cierre Wood #43

Cierre Wood

If anything Wood has benefited the most with the absence of the injured Arian Foster. Wood will be in competition with Dennis Johnson and Ray Graham when training camp arrives, but right now he has the upper hand. Wood has a smooth running style and seems faster than what his Notre Dame film showed. He has shown some burst in open field and has made defenders miss in OTAs, and defenders are required to two hand touch the ball carriers during practice. His one cut running style is a perfect fit for the Texans zone running scheme and he has taken advantage of his increased time on the practice field.

Sam Montgomery

Despite what initial reports have said about Montgomery, he has shown some solid progression over OTAs. He came into rookie mini-camp out of shape and struggled with a back issue that cut his time short. Montgomery knew he was out of shape and he did not miss a single minute of practice when he came to OTAs. He showed some of the best burst off the line of scrimmage and during team drills he looked like a different player. His true value will come when he plays against the run, but he does have the skill set to rush the passer. The growth of Montgomery as an outside linebacker since his arrival in Houston has been a positive sign.

A.J. Bouye

Bouye made an early impression at rookie mini-camp making plays on wide receivers and breaking up passes. In OTAs, things have not changed much for the rookie out of UCF, Bouye is a big cornerback with good feet and he has a knack for breaking up passes. He has some competition with other rookie cornerbacks in camp, but Bouye has been the standout of the group. He is not perfect, but when he does make a mistake he makes up for it by making plays on the field. Bouye was beaten for a touchdown in the red zone practice, but then he made up for it by having a solid day and not giving an inch for the rest of practice in coverage of the final day of OTAs.

Alan Bonner

A relative unknown and a pick Texans fans were confused about, Bonner has shown an impressive skill set from speed, route running and good pass catching ability. He started out slow and has his growing pains in learning formations and routes. At the end of OTAs, Bonner was putting on an impressive display of what could be with the rookie out of Jacksonville State. His body control and breaks in and out of routes are better than expected, and he has some sneaky speed on the field. He has shown he can run routes across the middle and good deep when needed. He did have some down days where he dropped passes and had some rookie moments, but he has shown some impressive flashes as a NFL wide receiver.

DeAndre Hopkins

This should come as no surprise here, but Hopkins is an impressive wide receiver. He stood out from everyone at rookie mini-camp and showed why he was a first round pick, and during OTAs he fit right in with the NFL level talent. Hopkins stood close to Andre Johnson and worked well with Matt Schaub in the passing game, and he already gives the offense a new added dimension, a play maker opposite of Johnson. He is still learning the depth of routes and timing with Schaub, but he has shown early that he will be the starter week one against the San Diego Chargers.

 

On The Roster

Garrett Graham

Over his concussion issues, Graham is playing with confidence as the Texans second tight end. He caught majority of the passes that hit his hands, and the offense did not skip a beat with him at tight end when starter Owen Daniels sat out to rest. Graham will be an important piece of the Texans offensive success this season as he was in 2012 before the concussions slowed him. The fourth year tight end is growing into the position and looks like the starting tight end in waiting.

Jared Crick #93

Jared Crick #93

Jared Crick

The second year defensive end played in a limited role his rookie season, and now he has beefed up to 290 lbs. for the 2013 season. Crick looks better suited to play the on the defensive line with his added weight, and could fill in at the nose tackle position in a pinch. Even during defensive line drills, Crick showed some improved short area quickness than what he showed in 2012. Crick is going to have to prove he deserves more snaps, and he is ready for a big jump from year one to two.

Case Keenum

From the 2012 training camp to now the biggest change has been in Keenum’s knowledge of the playbook and his arm strength. We still feel he is a bit off from challenging T.J. Yates for the backup job, but he has shown some quality quarterback play in 7 on 7 and team drills. He throws well on the move, and he has even shown the confidence in the huddle to get his offense lined up on the field. The growth as a quarterback is there, but how much is still to be determined.

Brooks Reed

The third year version of Reed looks leaner and faster than previous seasons. He has worked at inside linebacker the entire OTAs next to Darryl Sharpton with the absence of Brian Cushing and Tim Dobbins. Reed looks quicker and faster on the field and not as muscled up as 2012, and he has shown some signs of understanding what the inside linebacker position is asking. The feeling still is that Reed will be at outside linebacker when week one arrives, but he knowledge he is getting now on the inside, will help the Texans display a more versatile Reed during the season.

Brandon Brooks

He has trimmed down to 325 lbs. and there is nothing but muscle on the second year offensive lineman. Brooks has been impressive in offensive line drills, especially when he talks of his assignments on a particular play without thinking when talking assignments on a particular play. He has displayed a strong punch on hand dummies held by fellow offensive lineman, and he looks better equipped to start as the right guard for the Texans. Brooks has the makings for a special player and his dedication over the offseason to keep his weight off has been a step in the right direction.

 

 

You can follow Patrick on Twitter.  He is the Editor of State of the Texans.

 

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