Nico Collins looks like the real deal. Composite image by Brandon Strange.
The Houston Texans had a lovely day on offense in their second workout in pads. Here are 11 observations from the practice.
1. Davis Mills was phenomenal today. There wasn’t anything spectacular to report from an eye-popping play standpoint, but he dissected the defense. His red zone success last season seems to be even better and here to stay this year.
2. Davis Mills showcased decision-making speed, but combined it with bigger plays today. Previously, Mills had been making quick decisions and getting the ball to short routes for small gains. Today, he was whipping the ball around the field for big chunks.
3. Davis Mills playing last year in some chaotic situations seems to help him this year. Even when the offensive line has a breakdown, his mobility in the pocket is apparent. He also has a better internal clock, it feels like, so some of those punishing hits will maybe disappear.
4. Nico Collins and Davis Mills have wonderful chemistry. Mills found Collins on a deep pass where Collins got vertical on cornerback Steven Nelson. With Nelson being very physical, Collins hauled in the pass for a score. It seems almost daily Collins showcases his physical gifts and how he uses them to beat defenders.
5. Speaking of physical gifts, Pharaoh Brown uses his plenty. Lovie Smith called Brown the team’s starting tight end after practice. He is a bully against defenders, and his athleticism is apparent as he gets loose in the middle of the field. He has a chance to be a weapon for this team.
6. Brevin Jordan has had his moments too. He and Brown will make for a fearsome red zone duo. There will be times each will play next to the other, providing a matchup nightmare for most teams. Jordan hauled in some scores today too.
7. Rookie offensive guard Kenyon Green ran with the first team today. He opened a big hole on one play that allowed Marlon Mack to dart through for a big run. He is physical and had a few solid victories on Tuesday. Lovie Smith said he is having “normal rookie progression” so far.
8. Let’s keep with the offensive rookie theme, shall we? I like what Dameon Pierce has showcased in camp so far. He hasn’t “won” the job, but he’s forced himself to be a factor. Pierce hauled in a screen in traffic today and darted up the field for a big gain. He should be a constant option for Pep Hamilton’s offense.
9. Rookie safety Jalen Pitre had a really nice moment and a really ugly moment today. Pitre read a play and darted in front of a tight end, earning himself a pass breakup but dropping an interception. Pitre’s bad moment happened when in a rushing play, Rex Burkhead juked him out of his shoes for a gain. Pitre should be on the field a lot, but there is plenty of growth needed.
10. Christian Harris is fast. Duh, you knew that from his pre-draft workout. But he’s football fast and his recognition is very solid. Harris darted in to stymie a rushing play that he anticipated and ran past the blocking to ruin the play. He played with the first team at times, as Lovie Smith noted after practice. There is a chance he will play quite a bit for this team.
11. If the Texans played a game tomorrow, I would start Rasheem Green at defensive end. Green is frequently near the ball and seems to be quite the annoyance for the offensive line. He had a play today where he had a sack if it was a live rep. He is constantly near the football on rushing plays. He’s been a nice free agent find.
Per The Athletic's Chandler Rome, Framber Valdez plans on both he and the catcher calling pitches this year. He said he “wants to feel more comfortable,” adding “not that I don't feel comfortable with the catchers, but I want to feel comfortable and throw the pitches with more conviction…to feel like I have the game in my hands.”
Framber Valdez has the PitchCom device on his glove as he warms up before the first inning in West Palm Beach. Yainer Diaz is catching him today. https://t.co/tqgmzwfN7r
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) March 1, 2024
Is that a good thing? Either way, it seems like a return to form for Framber Valdez is the biggest “what if” for the 2024 Houston Astros.
Be sure to watch the video above as ESPN Houston's Paul Gallant & Joe George discuss.