TEXANS CAMP REPORT
Cody Stoots: 11 observations from Texans training camp for Tue., Aug. 21
1. The Texans are simulating some of the work they will do in preparation for a regular season week this week ahead of the Rams. Bill O'Brien explained they introduced some of the regular season working operations to the work week ahead of Saturday's game. Typically, teams begin work for week one in some shape or form two weeks out, which would be next week with the preseason finale on Thursday. This is actually a nice move because it adds a layer of assessment to players not present on a traditional training camp schedule.
2. J.J. Watt said he would like to play in the preseason game on Saturday but noted it wasn't up to him. Watt said he doesn't need to go out and get pancaked but would like some reps ahead of the regular season. He noted though, this isn't imperative saying he missed the preseason ahead of 2012 and that year it went okay for him. Watt was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2012.
3. O'Brien said he expects healthy players, even starters, to play in Saturday's game with the Rams. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Tyrann Mathieu are all healthy. So are Deshaun Watson, Will Fuller, and DeAndre Hopkins. Saturday should be fun.
4. Mathieu said he wanted to get an interception in Saturday's game and hopes he gets to play. He noted after practice he feels like he has 94 percent of the defense down and likes working with Romeo Crennel. His knowledge of the defense will be important as he plays safety primarily with rookie Justin Reid and new safety Kareem Jackson. Mathieu brings up communication often when discussing the defense.
5. Whitney Mercilus is still sidelined. He is working on coming back from a hamstring injury. O'Brien did say he will have Mercilus for the season opener against the Patriots.
6. It will not be easy to run the football against the Texans. The defensive line is loaded with D.J. Reader and Christian Covington filling in and around Watt and Clowney on rushing defense. Clowney effortlessly removed a lineman to blow up a rep today and Watt's speed on pursuit is closer to old Watt than we saw in his limited action last year. Combined with Mercilus when he returns and the talented inside linebackers, this defense will make opposing rushing attacks miserable. Todd Gurley on Saturday will be a nice test.
7. With Sammie Coates (concussion) and Keke Coutee (hamstring) still out, there are plenty of reps to go around for the pass catchers. Hopkins and Fuller got open in the middle of the field with ease on a few reps. Fuller doesn't look or work like the same player. It will be interesting to see him on Saturday. He's added weight and everything is a little smoother, but he's still stupid fast. O'Brien praised his hands yesterday saying they are stronger than previous years.
8. Bryce Jones is the new cornerback on the roster. He made his debut today and won a rep against DeAndre Hopkins. The fifth cornerback spot is up for grabs and there is no reason Jones couldn't factor in if he impressed this week and next before the roster cutdown. Dee Virgin, the thought to be the favorite to make the roster as the 5th cornerback, is putting up a fight. He had two interceptions in practice today.
9. Brian Peters is an interesting player for the Texans in camp right now. No one has done enough to supplant him as the special team’s ace, and his knowledge of the defense makes him a useful piece of depth at inside linebacker in a pinch. Special team’s holdovers are always interesting when a new special teams coach comes in. The Texans are in their first year with Brad Seely. Between Joe Webb, Johnson Bademosi, and Peters in addition to other backups that will be asked to contribute, it seems unlikely the special teams will be the bane of their existence again.
10. Deshaun Watson threw an interception today, the first I can remember seeing him throw in camp. Around that interception, he threw some of the crispest passes of the preseason. He hit Hopkins and Fuller in stride on a ton of plays and placed some bullets into the end zone. Watson is better than last year in a few ways, but the consistent crispness combined with the ever-improving accuracy is one of the big jumps.
11. Nick Rose is not going to supplant Ka'imi Fairbairn as the team's kicker. It doesn't seem like Shane Lechler can be bested in the punting competition, but the rookie Trevor Daniel can boom it. Lechler is likely playing his last year, and Daniel could earn himself some practice squad work.