Texans Training Camp: Day Nine
After a short break for the Houston Texans, they have started preparing for a trip for their first preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. The day started out in shells but after some contact they stripped their pads with the Texas heat creeping in.
- The camp day was highlighted with the return of inside linebacker Darryl Sharpton, who was activated off of the Non-Football Injury list. Sharpton showed up to camp with a groin injury that popped up prior to the first practice and his absence led to the signing of Joe Mays. Sharpton played like this was a playoff game when the first horn opened practice, but this should not be a surprise because he has “officially” been put on notice by the Texans. Sharpton has not been able to stay healthy and this year has not started the best for him trying to win the starting linebacker spot.
- Tight end Garrett Graham was impressive today and made some great catches: one sliding, snagging a high pass and some down the seam. He was a good pass catcher last season but it looks like he has taken a concentrated effort to really work on his hands. He showed off his soft hands by catching the ball away from his body and looks good as the second tight end of the offense. Graham also is starting to understand the run game in terms of blocking.
- DeAndre Hopkins is still proving that the Texans made the right pick in the 1st round. Hopkins is making some big time catches against the likes of Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson. There has been talk that Joseph and Jackson might have lost a step, but that is not the case. The catches that Hopkins is making is with Joseph and Jackson draped all over him in coverage, it is the fact that Hopkins is making better catches. It is hard not to get excited to see him against other competition but he is doing it at a high level against two of the best corners in the league.
- Kicker Randy Bullock showed some leg strength today and looked solid when he was asked to kick field goals. He has a strong leg and he put some good strength into kicks, making them with ease. Bullock has all you want as an NFL kicker. He will just have to put it together.
- The defense suffered a scare when Brooks Reed went out with a knee issue that initially did not look good. The final report is that Reed “banged” knees with Owen Daniels and the Texans used caution not to push Reed too much. He finished practice as a spectator and a big bag of ice on his knee.
- J.J. Watt will return to wearing his famous arm brace from last season on his left arm. Watt worked in individual drills but was held out of contact drills to rest his sore arm. The issue actually occurred last Thursday. After a team drill, he took himself out after a play he made. He did not return on Thursday and sat out on Friday with some key veterans. This is the first time Watt has missed any stretch of practice time, but it doesn’t look like that big of an issue moving forward.
- Brice McCain is slowly looking like his old self and today he had a nice interception on a pass against T.J. Yates. McCain got over the top of the route, picked it off in stride and then decided to take it and turn it into a big return, weaving in and out of players. McCain is a key piece of the defense and having him back at 100% will be another upgrade to the defense.
- Brian Cushing had his first team work of training camp and there is still some tentativeness from him on the field. Even the offensive players are trying to protect him from knocking him around too much, but as it went on he looked to get into the flow of it. The team is still easing Cushing back into the scheme of things but they are doing it right, especially in getting his confidence back in what he can do.
- Rookie outside linebacker Sam Montgomery went through his group drills and this is his first action since day one of training camp. He really did not push it, but it was good to see him out on the field again.
- Trevardo Williams and Bryan Braman have been disappointments on defense since the start of camp. Both have been outmatched by the offensive line and been non factors in the pass rush. It will be interesting to see exactly what happens with the two, but both have had opportunities to take some key snaps with Whitney Mercilus out with a hamstring issue. If anything, they have left the door open for Justin Tuggle and Willie Jefferson to make the positive impressions at outside linebacker, which they have.
- The Texans’ pass rush looked good today with Antonio Smith, Shiloh Keo and Tim Jamsion providing some good looks against the offense. All three would have had quarterback sacks today and this is a good sight for a team that had no real consistent pass rush besides Watt in 2012.
You can follow Patrick on Twitter. He is the Editor of State of the Texans.