The Lions were in town for joint practice to push the Texans a little

11 observations from Texans training camp for Aug. 14


@EdClarke03/Eddie Clarke

If you missed Monday's observations you can find them right here

Lions in town and Patricia driving around

Bill O'Brien praised the Lions and mentioned how easy it was for the Texans and Lions to decide what they were going to do for joint practices. Lions head coach Matt Patricia has an injured left leg and he was in a boot. So to get around he rode his ATV around the field. He never really went too fast. Overall I would say today was a win for the Texans.

Kalil's long day

It was a roller coaster day for the Texans left tackle. He started off not getting the job done on the ground in the first set of team drills but his pass protection held up. Later, he was annihilated and placed promptly in Deshaun Watson's lap. It was an ugly rep and the start of four straight bad plays by the Texans offensive line. Kalil held up later in some pass protection situations but when he is bad, it is really bad.

Right side, strong side

Max Scharping at right guard and Seantrell Henderson at right guard had a pretty nice day. In the Texans first team drills of the day they bullied the Lions. Later there was a missed assignment on the right side that blew the play dead but overall it was a nice day for Henderson and the Texans rookie.

I am higher on Henderson than most, I think he has had a nice camp. I am not concerend with him holding down the right side. Scharping seems to get a little better each time he is out. There are still a couple of moments where he looks like a rookie but he doesn't make many mistakes twice.

Wideouts winning

​The Texans wideouts feasted on the Lions secondary today. Darius Slay is the best cornerback on the Lions and DeAndre Hopkins earned a few victories over him. DeAndre Carter again had a nice day from the slot. Even after he slipped Tyron Johnson recovered to win a one-on-one rep. Not saying they won every matchup but the Texans wideouts clearly beat the Lions defensive backs today.

Will Fuller caught an over the shoulder pass on the sideline in front of the fans. The fans were going to cheer the catch no matter what but the referees at practice confirmed it was a catch. That got Deshaun Watson a high five from Bill O'Brien.

Roby's run continues

Bradley Roby has been a very nice addition to the Texans. He is the best defensive back to play opposite Johnathan Joseph in a while. He had some very nice plays today including being step for step and knocking a Lions pass catcher out of bounds to prevent him from scoring.

Karan on my wayward back, there'll be paydirt when you are done

Karan Higdon had a nice day and flashed for the running back group. He powered through a few Lions for a big play in the red zone. He and Damarea Crockett are in an absolute fight for the third running back spot. They trade the lead frequently. Joint practices Thursday and the preseason game Saturday will be huge for both of them.

Lamar Miller had one play today where he hit the edge and was flying up the field. He has the most juice we have seen him have in a long time.

Defensive line dominance

The Texans were missing Carlos Watkins and D.J. Reader today among others. That didn't matter as the defensive line worked the Lions. J.J. Watt was an absolute terror drawing multiple blockers regularly and not having it matter. Whitney Mercilus was as disruptive as ever. There was one hiccup where the linebackers and defensive line let a Lions player go nearly untouched into the end zone but other than that a very strong day for the front.

Angelo Blackson has had a nice camp as a depth player on the defensive line. He batted down a Matt Stafford pass today.

More on Mercilus

Bill O'Brien hinted after practice the team will be seeing more of what Whitney Mercilus was doing in 2016. Mercilus' most prolific pass rushing seasons were 2015 and 2016. He was injured in 2017 and last year the team used him differently limiting his pass rush opportunities. With no Jadeveon Clowney we are seeing much more pass rush opportunities for the Texans veteran.

He his a spin move on the Lions left tackle today that would have had him sending Matt Stafford into another dimension if he could have tackled the Detroit quarterback. It was glorious.

Tight end talent

Jordan Akins had an amazing over the shoulder catch with the defense draped all over him. Jordan Thomas just missed skying for a touchdown but later shook loose for a wide open score. Darren Fells won a few pass catching reps today. Lions tight end and first round pick T.J. Hockenson was filthy on a few plays. He is an incredible athlete for his size. The big fellas had a good day today.

Play of the day

DeAndre Hopkins was sliding backwards on his butt. ON. HIS. BUTT. Darius Slay was in coverage. Hopkins came down with the ball snatching it out of the air for a touchdown. It was one of the best catches of his career. My jaw dropped. Slay looked dejected. Watson just smiled. There weren't even cheers really the fans were so stunned.

Quote of the day

"We haven't seen him. We haven't really seen him since the end of the season. So, I really don't know. I can do my best to answer your question but I really don't know. When he arrives we'll handle it when he arrives, but that's his prerogative. He doesn't have to be here right now. That's part of the franchise tag and all those different things."

Bill O'Brien when asked about Jadeveon Clowney. And about those trade rumors, are you hearing all that?

"No, not at all."

Got anything to say about it?

"Nope."

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Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March. Photo via: NRG Park/Facebook

Football players, coaches and general managers have come and gone, but only one person has been running the business side of the Texans, well, even before they were the Texans. Jamey Rootes has been President of the Houston Texans since 1999, when an NFL team in Houston was still just a gleam in owner Bob McNair's eyes. That's before the team adopted the name "Texans" in 2000, before there was NRG Stadium, which opened as Reliant Stadium in 2000, and before they became serial champs of the AFC South, six titles between 2011-2019.

The precise date was Oct. 6, 1999 when NFL owners voted 29-0 to award the NFL's 32nd and newest franchise to Houston. Not only that, Houston was awarded the 2004 Super Bowl. Rootes, 34 years old with no NFL experience, had his work cut out for him. Before taking the job in Houston, Rootes was team president, general manager and CEO of selling peanuts and popcorn for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.

Major League Soccer, with all due respect, is not nearly a national obsession like the National Football League.

"I wasn't intimidated," Rootes said. "There's a quote that I love, 'Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.' I've always been a purpose-driven person. As for the step up to the NFL, I went from knowing nothing at the start of my time in Columbus to five years later thinking, OK, I've got this sports thing down. Actually, I had a very significant reduction in my responsibilities in Houston. When I was in Columbus, I ran the stadium, I ran the team's business, I was the general manager so I did the talent side of it, too. When I came to Houston, all I had to do was the business, so that was great."

Rootes has captured his remarkable journey from the soccer team at Clemson to grad school at Indiana University to the business world at IBM and Proctor & Gamble to the Clemson Crew, to ultimately being named President of the Houston Texans in his new book, The Winning Game Plan: A Proven Leadership Playbook for Continuous Business Success, available next week.

I've known Rootes from his day one with the Texans, but I still had to ask: everybody knows what the general manager does, and what the head coach does. What exactly does the President of an NFL team worth $3.3 billion do?

"I like to use the parallel of a pharmaceutical company to describe my job. There are two sides to that company. First you put scientists in one building and you leave them alone. They create products, which is what our football team is. The football side has a coach and general manager and all the people who prepare the team to play on Sunday. But getting that product to market is done by the business side, traditional business disciplines. Those are the things that fall to me. Basically, everything between the white lines is run by the football side. Everything outside of those lines, I do," Rootes said.

Between 1999 and 2002, when the Texans played their first game (let the record show the Texans defeated the Dallas Cowboy, 19-10), the team was essentially a massive start-up project. First orders of business for Rootes involved building a new stadium, developing relationships with suppliers, contractors and government officials, preparing for a Super Bowl and, most important, developing a relationship with fans.

Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March, but it's really an accumulation of lessons learned and behind-the-scenes stories about building the Texans from scratch into one of the most admired and valuable franchises in all of sports.

"I've always been a meticulous note-taker. I've kept every presentation I've ever done. I took all of my notes and concepts and put those down on paper," Rootes said. "To be a good leader, you need a wild imagination. You can show me a blank piece of paper, but I don't see it as blank. To me, it's a finished product that hasn't been created yet," Rootes said.

Rootes lays out his leadership strategy in seven chapters: Are You a Manager or a Leader, Get the Right People on Your Team, Build a Winning Culture, Create Raving Fans, a Winning Playbook for Adversity and Success, Your Leadership Playbook and Play to Win.

He learned lesson No. 1 the hard way. A friend once counseled Rootes, "your staff doesn't like the way you're all up in their business, you need to back off." Rootes took that advice to heart.

"It was an epiphany. I wasn't a leader. That's when I truly began thinking about leadership. I say this all the time, I don't do anything. All I do is create an environment where exceptional people can be their very best self. I know what's going on. I'm fully informed. I leave every game day exhausted. I get there early. I do the things I need to do. I kiss babies. I shake hands. I present checks. I entertain clients. I'm dialed in. It absolutely wears me out because I love this organization so much. I am so proud of what we've been able to do for this great city of Houston."

I asked Rootes, as someone who lives for Game Day and a packed NRG Stadium, are you devastated by 2020, the year of COVID-19 and small crowds limited by Centers for Disease Control guidelines?

"I don't look at it that way. I think there's a song by 10,000 Maniacs that said, these are the days that you'll remember. I told my staff, I know you're all going through hell right now, but later on in life, you'll talk about this year. Things that are important are memorable, for the positive and those things that leave a scar. You learn from adversity and you're a better person for enduring it. Victor Frankl said 'We can discover meaning in life in three different ways, by creating a work or doing a deed, experiencing something or encountering someone, and by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.' Suffering is part of life. He should know, he survived a Nazi concentration camp," Rootes said.

H-E-B President Scott McClelland wrote the forward to The Winning Game Plan. Rootes dedicates the book to late Texans owner Bob McNair. Rootes' book is a fun read. All I kept thinking was, where was this book when I needed it? And before you buy too much into Rootes as a leader, consider that Rootes admits that he had to ask for wife Melissa's permission before he could accept the Texans job.

Personal note: I believe that a big part of leadership is the ability to keep a promise. Several years ago, I was riding my bicycle with my dog Lilly on a leash. It was the only way I could keep up with her. Well, one time Lilly saw a squirrel and pulled me off my bicycle. I tumbled a few times and rolled next to the curb. When I looked up, there was Jamey Rootes. I told him, "There's no need for you to tell anybody about this." He never said a word.

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