STOOTS ON TEXANS
Texans OTAs: 11 observations you need to know about from Texans first June practice
The Houston Texans had another open practice as the early stages of their 2022 campaign get off the ground. Here are 11 observations about the first practice of June.
1. We start at the end of practice. The Houston Texans wore orange shirts with a message of support for the victims in the tragic shooting of Uvalde. Lovie Smith opened his post-practice press conference speaking on the violence in our country. Smith said the Texans' players organized a donation of $200,000 which the McNair family will match.
2. Derek Stingley Jr. did very little work today with the team. I would characterize it as a mental rep day as he participated in walkthroughs. Lovie Smith spoke glowingly after the practice about his defensive back room and said he expects Stingley Jr. to play in training camp. I would not be concerned with Stingley Jr.'s load management at this point.
3. Speaking of the new defensive backs, Steven Nelson showed up big in the workout. Nelson had a diving pass breakup and was constantly around the play as the veteran outside cornerback. He was covering well underneath and deep all day. He is ahead of where previous veteran corners have been in this defense.
4. Desmond King is flying around the field. King darted into a nearly completed pass and batted it away. It was as clean as clean could be from a timing standpoint. It will be interesting to see how King develops with an additional year in Lovie Smith's defense.
5. It wasn't a great day for the wideouts. There were a few drops, and no deep completions seemed to materialize. Brandin Cooks is quick in finding space and being available for a pass. No other wideouts stood out today.
6. Rookie wide receiver John Metchie's recovery is hard to pinpoint. He doesn't stretch with the team in team stretch and hardly does anything resembling a drill. Metchie though is not working out on other fields with players working back from injury. He does catch balls from time to time though. Lovie Smith simply said the expectation is for Metchie to improve each day and he's doing well in that regard. The head coach refused to put a timetable on Metchie's workout debut but did praise players who amassed mental reps when they couldn't work out.
7. Veteran wideout Chris Conley had a ball bounce off his hands for a near interception. The near interception was almost made by rookie linebacker Christian Harris. Harris was distraught that he couldn't reel in the ball, but it was fun to see the linebacker cover a wide receiver.
8. While the wideouts didn't stand out today, the tight ends did, but in a bad way. I will have to go look, and maybe I am being too harsh through just two practices, but this is one of the more unimpressive tight end groups in recent memory for the Texans.
9. The offensive linemen had a few rough moments. Rookie Austin Deculus had multiple "welcome to the NFL moments" when speed and what contact is allowed forced him to miss some blocks. Maliek Collins, who was absent last week from the open workout, diced through the line for what would have been a massive negative play. Rasheem Green had a nice play that would have been a big tackle for a loss in a live rep. Charlie Heck played some left tackle today. Tytus Howard was out today as he and his wife welcomed a son into the world. Laremy Tunsil is still not at the optional portion of the preseason.
10. Dameon Pierce should excite fans of the team. The fourth-round rookie flashed a few times in this workout. Once he beat a linebacker to the sidelines, planted, and turned around for an easy catch and nice gain. Later in running drills, Pierce's rep looked among the most successful in gaining yards. Pierce is fighting for opportunities, but fighting for more chances with the ball in his hand is a great sign for the future of the rushing attack.
11. Rex Burkhead was asked about Pep Hamilton's offensive system and somehow morphed his answer into praise of starting quarterback Davis Mills. "I think Davis (Mills) has done a great job making sure that we're all in the right place. He's so comfortable this year and in the spring and really with the playbook." Burkhead went on to detail how Mills was instructing players where to be on newly installed plays and called that "pretty awesome" for a second-year quarterback.