-Andre Johnson reported to camp and was the main attraction when he arrived to camp after his brief absence. If there is anything that can be taken away
from Johnson at camp, it is the fact that he is in the best shape he has been in for a long time. He looks leaner but still built the same with a 6-3 and
230 lbs. frame.
Johnson was worked with closely with Bill O’Brien in various portions of practice playing catchup on the new offense. Johnson has taken a liking to new Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and it was evident with the amount of talk between the two during practice. Fitzpatrick and Johnson have plenty of work to do to get to know each other more on the field, but they made some solid connections today through the air with having no previous work prior to today.
-The return of cornerback Johnathan Joseph was a good sight to see after sitting out all of the offseason workouts recovering from a foot procedure after the end of the 2013 season. Joseph put in some solid work today and showed no issues with his foot.
-Jadeveon Clowney returned to camp after a hernia surgery during OTAs, but he is limited on exactly what he can do during practice. He is moving well on the field but the Texans are going to be careful not to push him too quick before the season. Also, fellow rookie Jeoffrey Pagan returned to the field for the first time and he looked solid in his first full practice with the team. Pagan is an imposing figure at 6-3 and 310 lbs. and he even intercepted a tipped pass where he showed some athleticism to get down field to try and score a touchdown.
-Brooks Reed took all of his work today from the outside linebacker position and he looked right at home. Reed has been forced to get work there with Ricky Sapp (Non-Football Injury list) and Jadeveon Clowney (limited) being slowed with injury issues. It will be interesting to see what happens to Reed when everyone returns to full strength but it looks like outside linebacker for the time being.
-Ez Nwachukwu showed today why he can be dangerous as a player with the football in his hands. The sheer speed he can show on the field can cause issues and he was able to make some nice connections with Case Keenum. One play he worked all the way across the field and Keenum hit him in stride and he turned up with little issue for a nice gain. It was a good first day for the wide receiver.
-Wide Receiver Mike Thomas put in some work today as the slot wide receiver and he still looks like a viable option for Fitzpatrick. He has a good understanding on how to read defenses and settle into voids and it showed today. He adds another viable option to the offense and could be one to watch closer as training camp progresses.
-Case Keenum looked better today when he was not having passes deflected at the line of scrimmage. He made some nice throws outside the numbers and has taken to what O’Brien wants the quarterbacks to be. He still has the problem of throwing and seeing through the passing lanes in the pocket, but when he had clear lanes to throw he made some pinpoint throws. Keenum has taken a positive step as a player from last season.
-J.J. Watt has only gotten better as an athlete and his first step off of the line of scrimmage is impressive. Watt gave Xavier Su’a-Filo a taste of NFL life when the two were lined up against each other. His speed, quickness and strength were too much for Su’a-Filo to handle and it was Watt straight to the quarterback.
-If Alfred Blue can put it together quick he has what it takes to be an adequate NFL running back for the Texans. He is very fluid running and catching the ball, and how he is able to line up split outside to become a receiver is a quiet part of his game. Blue’s value is only climbing and he has shown that he has the physical tools to push Andre Brown for the backup running back spot.
-The Texas heat was nothing nice today as it sent 6 players to get extra IVs indoors during practice. All of the players that left the field due to heat
issues returned before practice was finished.
Solid First Days
A.J. Bouye had a strong opening day with two pass breakups and there cannot be enough said about the instincts he has on the field. He has an internal
clock that cannot be coached and he has shown for two years straight that he has a knack for finding the football.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has taken to what O’Brien wants from his quarterbacks, a player that makes quick decisions when he gets to the top of his drop in the
pocket. He hit his receivers early and often today coming out of breaks and he did it efficiently. It was the best day for Fitzpatrick as the Texans
quarterback since arriving to the team.
DeAndre Hopkins looks like he is practicing with a purpose and there was not much he did not catch that was thrown his direction. He made multiple catches
in traffic today and some against good coverage from Brandon Harris. The biggest part of his game is his overall strength to shield defenders from running
though him to get to the football. It was a more confident Hopkins today on the field for the Texans.
Day One Struggles
Call it nerves but in the small portions of Tom Savage today he struggled to make any positive strides. Throwing blind and an interception, it seemed
things on the field were moving too fast for the rookie. His hesitations were evident and it looks like he has regressed some from the work he put in
during offseason practices. Day two will be important for Savage to see how he responds to his rough day one.
Tyson Clabo is going to have to work the rust off from little football drills done with a team, and today it showed. Clabo was slow to move into his pass
sets and was easily beaten by Brooks Reed around the corner in pass rush situations. It shows that Clabo has plenty of work to do, but he is the one that
will have to chase down Derek Newton if he wants to be considered to start this season.
Rookie Inside Linebacker Max Bullough will have to improve his coverage skills to make an impression on the coaches. He struggled today on back to back
plays where receivers he was covering made plays in front of him and they ran off from him with no issues. Bullough looks like a throw back inside
linebacker who is down hill in between the tackles, where his struggles come in open space in coverage and open field situations.