TEXANS CAMP REPORT

Cody Stoots: 11 Observations from Texans training camp for Tuesday, Aug. 14

Will Fuller has been looking good in practice. Photo by Edward Clarke

1. Bill O'Brien was much more pleased with today's practice as opposed to the start of the week. He said he liked the way his guys competed against each other today. The offense struggled a little more early but late found some rhythm and success and ultimately the end zone. It would still be considered a defensive win for today though. 

2. The Texans are managing reps for certain players this training camp. DeAndre Hopkins and Whitney Mercilus fall into that category. O'Brien mentioned it was a focus to manage the workload and to have them ready for the regular season. He noted there is still close to three weeks before the regular season and players fall into different levels of their reps. 

3. Seantrell Henderson is "fine" according to O'Brien despite missing today. Kendall Lamm and Chad Slade are among the names competing for backup tackle snaps. Lamm had some wins today but the offensive line as a whole struggled at times during situational practicing. 

4. Will Fuller had a huge day today. Deshaun Watson found him a few times for impressive plays. Fuller used a double move to escape Kevin Johnson in a one-on-one drill. He also pulled down a corner strike from Watson that required some impressive contortion to stay in bounds and bring it down. Fuller looks much more complete this year and the opportunity afforded him while Hopkins has his reps managed has paid off. 

5. Kevin Johnson had a long day today. A few red zone drills saw Johnson bested by Sammie Coates and Vyncint Smith. Smith had to make a contested catch with Johnson being physical at the point of attack but he pulled it down eliciting loud praise from tight end Ryan Griffin. Coates outmaneuvered Johnson in the corner for a score. Both plays would be unlikely to happen if there was a pass rush but in this instance, the offense got the best of Johnson. 

6. Sammie Coates is moving into the realm where it would be a surprise if he is cut by the Texans. He ran right by Johnathan Joseph in a drill displaying surprising burst and speed. He plays outside wide receiver and is likely competing with Braxton Miller on a near daily basis for the fifth wideout spot. Miller mentioned after practice he aims to listen to the coaches as he is asked to process a lot of information playing inside and outside for the offense. 

7. Aaron Colvin is fun to watch in coverage. The intensity around him is impressive to see and he is focused in his approach. He had a great pass breakup in a drill against Bruce Ellington and he almost stalks wideouts the way he moves around before the snap. He will be a player to watch as the 49ers come to town tomorrow. 

8. Christian Covington and J.J. Watt absolutely mauled the offense on one team play. In a totally live rep, the duo would've easily combined for a sack and their disruption was evident on quite a few plays. Covington looks completely healthy after ending the year on injured reserve last year. He seemed to be hitting his stride and having him back this year will strengthen a strong position group for the Texans. Angelo Blackson flashes in practice a lot as well. 

9. Covington and Watt's teammate D.J. Reader crashed Watt's post-practice podium appearance joking around about Watt. Reader noted Watt is quite the Jeopardy player and Watt hates Reader's dirty locker. He also mentioned Watt was the better soccer player of the two and better at shooting video games when they play, but Reader took the credit for besting Watt at sports video games. A lighthearted and fun moment post-practice. Watt said at the podium today he would be playing in the season opener against the Patriots. 

10. Dylan Cole summarized the Texans emotions and feelings ahead of their joint practices with the 49ers with the notion he was ready to "hit someone else" noting he is tired of talking trash to teammates after practice and they are ready to see fresh opponents. He praised his fellow inside linebackers and said he believes they could be the best linebacker group in the league. Cole also joked people know who he is but not enough to recognize him on a trip to the grocery store. 

11. O'Brien seemed to relish the joint practices beginning. He noted he is fond of those and though he wouldn't go far enough to say they were better than preseason games. He mentioned the specific focus they can take in a joint practice as opposed to a preseason game. He gushed about 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and mentioned he is excited to see his players execute what they have learned and use their instincts with their visitors in town. He also said he and 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan have agreed if a player does something that would get him ejected in a game he will be ejected in joint practices as well. 

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It more of the same from the Houston Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Sunday afternoon provided a high-res snapshot of the state of Houston sports. The Astros, already assured of the best record in the American League, played a game they didn’t need to win. The Astros won, ho-hum, their 104th win of the season.

Meanwhile, eight miles away, the Texans, mired in last place with fan support dwindling, played a game they really needed to win. The Texans lost 34-24 to the Los Angeles Chargers in front of (giggle) 69,071 fans at NRG Stadium. The Texans really ought to stop saying the stands are packed. Every time a team punts, and cameras follow the ball skyward, there are thousands of empty seats on display. I know the NFL methodology for determining attendance, (total tickets sold, no-shows don’t count) but it just looks silly when the Texans announce 69,000 fans.

The Texans came close as usual before sputtering to another defeat. The Texans now stand at 0-3-1, the only winless team in the NFL. It’s the second time in three years they’ve started a season without a victory after four games. It’s telling to note that not one of the Texans opponents has a winning record for 2022.

In other words, the Texans have played four games they shoulda/coulda won. Shouda against the Colts, Broncos and Bears, and coulda against the Chargers.

Should/coulda four wins. Instead, none.

That’s the Texans. They’re in every game but can’t close the deal. Yeah, yeah, on Monday we hear, “the Texans are playing hard for coach Lovie Smith” and “they’re competitive” and “they’re a young team.” These are NFL equivalents of a participation trophy.

Sunday’s loss to the Chargers at NRG Stadium was straight out of the Texans playbook. Fall behind, make it interesting, lose. The Texans stuck to their script, timid play calling, momentum-crushing penalties (nine for 67 yards), self-inflicted drops, lackluster quarterbacking and Rex Burkhead on the field for crunch time. After one play where a Texan player was called for holding, the announcer said, “and he did a poor job of holding.”

Statuesque quarterback David Mills keeps saying “we’re in a good spot” and “we’re improving.” Statuesque as in he doesn’t move – or barely moves to avoid sacks. Sunday saw his first touchdown pass to a wide receiver. He’s now thrown four interceptions in the past two games. Let’s go to the tote board: 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 4 fumbles, 11 sacks, qbr rating 28.5 – good for 28th in the league.

A bright spot, sort of. This was the first week the Texans didn’t cover the spread. They’re now 1-2-1 against Vegas oddsmakers, meaning you’ve won money if you took the Texans all four weeks. They head to Jacksonville next as early 6.5-point underdogs.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s brilliant quarterback Bryce Young, who will be available for the Texans when they draft first in 2023 (as Paul Heyman says, that’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler), suffered a shoulder injury last Saturday. The Texans need to take out a Lloyds of London insurance policy on Young.

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