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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Paying a kicker 17 million dollars? Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Head coach/general manager Bill O'Brien engineered questionable moves during the off-season that already have come back to bite the Texans in the butt. Fans have yet to see the Texans on the right track, at least on television for now. Here are the top three, or bottom three, contracts that have Houston raising eyebrows, shrugging shoulders, and shaking heads.

Randall Cobb: 3 years, $27 million

The 30-year-old wide receiver has been quiet so far this 0-2 season with seven catches for 82 yards. New offensive coordinator Tim Kelly is favoring "12 and 21" schemes which render Cobb the third option behind Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks. This could change now with Fuller nursing a hamstring injury sustained against the Ravens. To be fair, with no preseason games or extended practice, Cobb has not had time to build chemistry with quarterback Deshaun Watson. So let's mark him, "bad contract," but jury still deliberating.

David Johnson: 3 years, $39 million

Johnson has carried the ball 22 times for 111 yards. Normally, these would be acceptable, even commendable stats. However, Johnson carries the burden of being involved in the trade that sent DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona. BTW, Hopkins in tearing it up in Arizona with 22 receptions for 219 yards. Also, more evidence condemning Johnson's contract, the Texans could have made a run at Leonard Fournette (17 carries for 108 yards) or Adrian Peterson (21 carries for 134 yards), both chewing up more turf for less money.

Whitney Mercilus: 4 years, $54 million

Here's another 30-year-old who was being paid big and producing little. He was MIA against the Ravens with no tackles and no sacks, despite being on the field for 70 percent of the Ravens snaps. Mercilus was able to squeeze the Texans for huge money last year when he picked up the workload of injured J.J. Watt.


Honorable Mention

Ka'imi Fairbairn: 4 years, $17,650,000

Fairbairn is the third highest-paid kicker in the NFL. Fairbairn had a rough start against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1, missing an extra point and a deep 51-yard field goal attempt. Meanwhile, up in Dallas, Greg 'The Leg' Zuerlein is being paid half of what Fairbairn makes, but knocking them down from the logo, including a last-second, game-winning field goal to beat the Falcons. Former Texans kicker Randy Bullock is enjoying greater success in Cincinnati for considerably fewer dollars, too. Fun fact: Fairbairn is paid more than most Texans secondary defenders.


But really, the worst, and most regrettable Texans contract of all might be Bill O'Brien's deal- 4 years, $20 million.

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