Texans work the Lions in last practice before preseason home opener

11 observations from Texans training camp for Aug. 15

@EdClarke03/Eddie Clarke

If you missed Wednesday's observations from training camp you can find them here

Texans win the day

The Texans worked the Lions today. They moved the ball and kept the Lions from moving the ball. The Lions looked like they didn't have any juice out there today while the Texans took care of business.

Safety domination

The Texans safeties feasted on the Lions today. Jahleel Addae had an interception on Matt Stafford. Rookie safety Chris Johnson from North Alabama had one as well. The Texans got him those two times in about a five play stretch. Later Johnathan Joseph dropped an interception. The team has a nice group of safeties and the Lions got a taste of that today.

Roderick Johnson's opportunity

Matt Kalil was given a day off and Roderick Johnson took advantage of the work. He looked really good and much better than Kalil did in the first joint practice against the Lions. There is certainly an argument to be made he could push Kalil. I'm not sure there has been a practice where Kalil wasn't up and down in a long time. Johnson was steady today. He might have made the left tackle spot a competition.

Julién Davenport filling in nicely

Davenport got some work at left tackle as well against the Lions. He also handled himself well. The tackle spot gets interesting with Kalil's spot being less sure each day. Kalil provides no versatility while Davenport has the ability to play on the right and left side. Davenport should be the team's swing tackle if Johnson pushes for playing time as the team's starter at left tackle. Obviously, in this scenario, Kalil isn't on the team. Davenport has done a great job making himself a factor.

Watt are you talking about Patricia?

J.J. Watt gave the Lions offensive line fits. He looked damn near unstoppable in some situations and seemingly was always affecting the play some way. He blasted past the Lions in one rep and tapped Matt Stafford on the shoulder as the play continued. Watt, of course, would have demolished Stafford but he let the play go. Lions head coach Matt Patricia was not pleased with Watt's actions and they exchanged some words.

Ready to thump

The Texans linebackers can hit. My goodness. Zach Cunningham pulled up before making full contact with a Lions back and he still blew the guy up. Peter Kalambayi can fly around as can Dylan Cole. Of course, Benardrick McKinney isn't afraid to stick his nose in there. They are ready for the regular season today.

Quick game kings

The ability to get the ball out fast is one of the best for Deshaun Watson and the offense. It feels like everyone can make it work too. DeAndre Carter, and eventually Keke Coutee, will get a lot of looks quick. Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins are also factors on slants and quick routes. Even the tight ends know to turn and look quick. Watson's decision making has been really solid.

Steady goes it for the rookie

Tytus Howard has a pass blocking drill today from the tackle spot and absolutely stoned the Lions player. I don't believe he will play tackle this year if the Texans can afford to play him elsewhere but there is definitely a future for him at tackle. His tackle pass blocking rep actually looked better than his guard blocking rep.

A few penalties in two days

I have seen a few more jumps by the offensive linemen and offside from defensive linemen in the past two days. Maybe just having an opponent in camp has been an element of that. The Texans played it pretty clean from the defensive backs standpoint though. This offensive line can't afford penalties. Even if they're better, they can't overcome those.

Play of the day: Cullen Gillaspia

The Texans fullback mad a great snag in the corner on the end zone but the journey there is what was almost as impressive. He came out of the backfield and was looking left, then he adjusted to look right as the ball came and he hauled it and tapped the toes for a score.

Quote of the day

"Had a pretty good day today. I think we were six for six with the ones in the red area."

Bill O'Brien just casually throwing out how his team dominated the red zone. They stunk last year so this is a nice development.

BONUS: Watt plays catch, his QB for the day hopes for Watt at tight end

BONUS: Houston basketball great at camp

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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