April 25, 2014

Texans Training Camp: Day Seven

Team7

The Houston Texans were back in shells today to get back to some light pad popping to open up Thursday’s practice.

Camp Notes

 

- The fade route looks like it could be used more than once with rookie DeAndre Hopkins now on the team. Matt Schaub has been learning his new wide receiver and today they showed this new part of the arsenal. Hopkins knows how to high point the football and it became like clock work when Schaub threw it up there for Hopkins. Today he jumped higher than Kareem Jackson in the corner of the end zone and made a great touchdown catch with his strong hands.

Justin Tuggle

Justin Tuggle

- The Texans are trying to find out the right combination of players to help at outside linebacker. With Whitney Mercilus (hamstring) and Sam Montgomery (ankle) both out with injuries, the defense used rookie Justin Tuggle over Willie Jefferson to start off the defensive session. Jefferson has been gaining plenty of buzz over the past week with his pass rush ability but Tuggle made a good showing today at camp. Tuggle packs a punch off the edge and looked decent against the run, but this was the first real action for Tuggle against the veterans of the team. This is a situation to watch moving forward for the Texans.

- Concern for Bryan Braman and his progression as a defensive player is real. Braman has not had the best camp and has really not done much on the defensive side to make himself better as an edge player. There is no doubt on what he can do on special teams but this is the second training camp in a row where Braman has not started well. His poor days on defense has led to limited action on the field and his play will have to pick up real soon to ease doubts about his play.

- New inside linebacker Joe Mays showed why he can be a nice complement to Brian Cushing. Mays on the first play of team drills stuck fullback Tyler Clutts in the hole and stopped him dead in his tracks. There is still plenty of learning to go on for Mays in the next month but he is what you want in a 3-4 linebacker in the NFL. Also, there is no ill effects of the leg injury that landed him on the injured reserve in 2012 for the Bronocs. He is moving very well out on the field.

- Center Ben Jones will be the rotating interior lineman for the Texans in 2013 and will have to learn both left/right guard and center. He is best suited for center but Jones’ value is very important knowing all three for the upcoming season. He has the quickness to succeed on the interior and will have to be ready at any moment to take over at any of these positions. The amount of responsibility that comes with his new role in the offense he is  learning seems to slow him down but his value is increasing every day he is on the field working with the offense.

- Defensive end Jared Crick had another solid day in the trenches. The biggest impression has been made with his pass rush and his technique to keep offensive lineman off of him. If anything, he is completely healthy after a neck injury slowed him last year as a rookie. Crick looks much more limber and is able to bend the way he needs to in rush and pass situations to be successful.

- Safety Shiloh Keo is on track to start in the first preseason game and it looks like the Texans are not in a rush to put rookie D.J. Swearinger in that role. Keo will not be the starter when Ed Reed (hip) is activated off the PUP list, but he will be the man before then. Entering his third season with the team, Keo has a good grasp of the defense and his assignments. He keeps mistakes to a minimum and it will be important for Swearinger to get to that point, but he is not there yet. Keo has slimmed down and doesn’t look bad on what the Texans are asking him to do in the secondary.

Garrett Graham returned to full action with the tight ends today and made a great sideline catch over a defender. Also, he had a good day in blocking and sealing the edge in the run game. Despite losing 7 pounds to a virus that kept him out of the start of camp, Graham looked good in his first real action.

Alan Bonner

Alan Bonner

- The Texans used Dennis Johnson, Keshawn Martin and Alan Bonner as punt returners today. After practice, Kubiak confirmed that Martin will be the primary return man.

- The UDFA wide receivers have been an interesting group to watch and Alec Lemon and Ez Nwachukwu  have taken to the front of the group. Lemon has been a catching machine and this is for a player during rookie mini camp in May that really did not stand out. Since training camp, Lemon has been consistent in all he does and it has shown on the field. Today he made a great catch and broke a big hit from Braman to get into the end zone. As for Nwachukwu, he has shown that he is getting the idea of what the offense is asking from him and he has the ability to stretch the field with no issues.

Brian Cushing is getting back into playing shape and where the Texans want him by week one. Cushing participated in 7 on 7 drills and broke up the first past of the session intended for Owen Daniels. The workload has been increased as camp has gone on and he has responded well to the increased activity on the field.

- There has been plenty of chatter surrounding quarterback Case Keenum. One thing is for certain, Keenum’s game has taken a step up from last season but the biggest question mark is can he do it against other teams. Keenum understands the offense and the players he is going against but his real test is going to come against a real defense designed to stop him. He does a good job of throwing on the run and making things happen off script and it will be interesting to seem him once the preseason starts.

- Picture of the Day

Ed Reed

Ed Reed

 

 

 

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

 

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