TEXANS CAMP REPORT

Cody Stoots: 11 observations from Texans training camp for Thu., Aug. 16

The Texans have had trouble running the ball the past two days. Zach Tarrant/Houstontexans.com

1. DeAndre Hopkins started off against the 49ers much better today than yesterday. The only fight today was against gravity as Hopkins shook his man and skied for a one-handed catch that is amazing to most but seemingly routine for the Texans star. Later Hopkins found himself working hard in teams as Deshaun Watson went to him over and over again. 

2. Hopkins addressed his altercation with Jimmie Ward after practice. He said it was "nothing" and joked they were actually playing tic-tac-toe. He went on to say it was just a scuffle and "that's football" before saying he and Ward were cool. 

3. Richard Sherman and Deandre Hopkins squared off late in the practice. Sherman looks so weird in 49ers gear and he was quite the match for Hopkins. After the practice Hopkins said it is nice to see guys like Sherman in practice because they are an elite talent and then he gets with those players to find out what he can improve on. Hopkins said it is an information exchange in those situations. 

4. The Texans pass catchers started fast and furious against the 49ers. Hopkins, Will Fuller, Bruce Ellington, Braxton Miller, and Sammie Coates all started the drills portion with consecutive catches. The wideouts didn't stay dominant though as the 49ers DBs caught up and pulled out some wins of their own. Keke Coutee is missing a ton of opportunity with his injury and it may be opening the door for Braxton Miller or Sammie Coates to make the roster. Coates had a wonderful over the shoulder catch and Miller shook loose with ease a couple of times. It is the most interesting battle in camp and gets even more interesting when Coutee returns and takes some reps away from the other pass catchers. 

5. Bruce Ellington is hard to cover and his movements once he gets the ball are fluid and sudden. There hasn't been a 49ers player that could cover him in space yet. Ellington hasn't played a ton in the NFL but the Texans seem to trust him with various wideout duties including the slot. 

6. The running game was again disappointing. The Texans got very little going on the ground once again. Troymaine Pope has some nice wiggle in the tight spaces and shot through on a few reps but his size might make that difficult to replicate in a full go game. Alfred Blue made some people pay on the line of scrimmage today. 

7. Kareem Jackson had an interception off Jimmy Garoppolo today. The 49ers started a team portion by taking a shot deep only to find the Texans new safety patiently waiting for the ball. Kurtis Drummond had another interception today as well in team drills. 

8. A scary moment for Brandon Weeden as a 49ers linebacker fell onto his legs as Weeden headed to the ground. Weeden was animated in his displeasure with his opponent as touching the quarterbacks is off limits. Weeden hit an amazing play-action pass to Braxton Miller after a successful run and still, despite his age, has a cannon. 

9. Speaking of cannons, Deshaun Watson almost put a hole in Ryan Griffin in a red zone rep. With his head surveying left to right and a pass rush closing in Watson fit a rocket into the tightest window we have seen since the Texans arrived back in Houston. Between two 49ers players and almost through Griffin. Touchdown Texans. 

10. Justin Reid earned a hearty congratulations from Tyrann Mathieu after he popped a 49ers player to end a rep. Reid said after practice the first game was a great experience because now he can start adjusting to the speed of the game and see the level at which he can compete. He had a great pass break up on a long Jimmy Garoppolo pass to a tight end. 

11. Bill O'Brien explained the "starters" would play "about the same" as the first preseason game. He explained they got a lot of game-like action over the past two days making it less important for them to play in the preseason game. He said it was just "really good work" the past two days. 

Looking ahead: The 49ers play the Texans Saturday night. The players to watch will be Sammie Coates (18) and Braxton Miller (13) as they battle for a spot on the team and on defense pay attention to Duke Ejiofor (53) to see if he is more consistent and Angelo Blackson (97) to see if he is still causing mayhem on the defensive line. The team needs to be better at rushing the football so pay attention to that as a whole for the offense. 

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Composite image by Jack Brame.

There's an elephant in the room when it comes to the Houston Texans. No, it's not Bill O'Brien. He's the ominous black cloud that hoovers over the whole building. That cloud is like a slow moving weather system that's constantly dumping rain and flooding the city. Eventually, it'll pass, we'll rebuild and recover from it.

It's not even the McNair family. Cal and Janice are the building itself. It exists, but needs people around and operating it in order for it to fully function. Sure, it could use some work. After all, it's almost twenty years old and could probably use a facelift. It happens when buildings age and are only taken care of or held to minimal standards.

The elephant in the room is Deshaun Watson. More specifically, his progress as a franchise/superstar quarterback. I've heard different people talk about this in one way, shape, form or whatever. AJ and Fred covered it on ESPN Houston's The Blitz. My friend @itsDanielBsr tweeted it and brought it up as well. There were others who talked about this topic, but these were the two places I encountered it in which I could pay closer attention.

When it comes to Watson, most people believe he's a great talent. However, there is a growing sentiment that it's time for him to take the next step. Watson turned 25 on September 14. He signed his four-year extension about a week before his birthday. When you're getting paid like a top quarterback and people recognize you as one of the better young quarterbacks, there comes a time when you need to poop or get off the pot.

When calling Watson to the carpet, people will call O'Brien into question. O'Brien is a factor in holding Watson back some. He's been the play-caller his whole time here in Houston up until this year when he allegedly turned it over to Tim Kelly. We've all seen how that has gone. O'Brien is also the general manager that traded away Watson's top target in DeAndre Hopkins. These type of things can hinder a young quarterback's growth and development, but at what point do we stop blaming O'Brien and start looking at Watson?

Some will point to the offensive line as a key factor as to why Watson isn't progressing. We've seen him escape sacks and create plays out of thin air. But when is it time to call him to the carpet for not going through his reads and/or making a check-down? He often escapes sacks and looks downfield, but should he be looking to scramble more often? Should he be reading progressions better? These intimate details are answers we won't ever get, but we hope we can understand that Watson is making his reads and decisions the way he's supposed to.

Whether it's his big extension, his bumbling idiot of a head coach, his lack of protection, or his lack of weapons, fans will eventually stop giving Watson a pass. Del said it best on ESPN Houston's The Bench: When will people stop bringing up Clemson when talking about Watson's greatness? NFL quarterbacks have their college career talked about in their rookie seasons. After that, it's all about what have you done for me lately. I sincerely hope Watson realizes his tremendous potential. He's a star now and a superstar in the making. The one thing that he needs is the success on the field that will catapult him into the upper echelon of the other top talents at his position. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Pat Mahomes, Russell Wilson, and Lamar Jackson all have either a league MVP award and/or a Super Bowl ring. If Watson is to be mentioned in that rarefied air, he needs to start taking the necessary steps. The clock is ticking and people are watching. Your move Deshaun.

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