Texans Training Camp: Day Fourteen

The Atlanta Falcons joined the Texans for the first day of their joint practices leading up to their preseason game.

-The Houston Texans welcomed the Atlanta Falcons to training camp and it was a refreshing site for a team that needed to get back to work in a hurry. The Texans, as a team, put together a much better showing than they did on Saturday in their first preseason game. The Texans and Falcons had a well organized practice that started with special teams, team drills, 9 vs. 7 run drills, 7 vs. 7 passing drills and 1 vs. 1 pass rushing and coverage drills. It was a full slate of work for both teams, but they kept each other off the ground after tackles so there were not any unnecessary injuries .

-Arian Foster, Andre Johnson and Brian Cushing were all suited up for practice for the first time in a long time. They all went through individual drills, but did not take part in group and team work. All three took the practice in from the side, while Foster along with Johnson are still outside chances to play against the Falcons on Saturday.

-Garrett Graham had a rough day at practice and dropped three passes (by our count) which is not normal for the sure handed tight end. Most of the passes were catchable and in good spots for him to turn and run. There was one pass off the hands of Case Keenum that had Graham in traffic where a Falcon's player was bearing down on him for a big hit.

-Ryan Fitzpatrick continued his up and down play against the Falcons. He had a couple of interceptions that were not a good look, but then came back in the two minute drill to hit DeAndre Hopkins in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Fitzpatrick is going to have to clean up his game and start running this offense with more efficiency than he showed against the Cardinals.

-Tom Savage looked the most confident he has since training camp opened and did some nice work against the Falcons 2s and 3s defense. He was throwing with the velocity that makes him an intriguing prospect and he hit Uzoma Nwachuukwu on a nice back shoulder throw on the sideline. He threw the ball outside the numbers which he has shown in camp before. It was good for the rookie to get some confidence back on the field.

-Jadeveon Clowney looks like he is getting settled in at his new position on the edge. He rushed with a purpose and gave Falcons offensive tackle Sam Baker all he wanted when they faced off. Clowney has strength and speed which translates well to the field. With his speed from around the corner, offensive tackles have to respect that part of his game. Clowney has been working on his game with Mike Vrabel and it is showing day to day on the field.

-The Texans took on the Falcons in 9 v. 7 to work their run game defense which was a highlight for the defense. Justin Tuggle and Jerrell Powe played very physical against the first team of the Falcons. Tuggle on one play ran through the fullback to tackle the running back in the backfield for a loss while Whitney Mercilus had a big hit with Jeff Tarpinian to stop a Falcons running back right after he got past the line of scrimmage. Safety Eddie Pleasant filled a hole one on one with another Falcons runner and stood him up for no gain then the whistle blew quickly to end the play. The Falcons did not start moving the ball until the Texans 3s came in and they moved it with ease, but at that point the defense had already made their mark.

-Derek Newton took another step to prove he can handle the right tackle position for the season and moved players in run drills and did well in pass pro. Newton handled Kroy Biermann in 1 vs. 1s and he was the only Texans offensive lineman to win all three reps in that period of practice.

-Xavier Su’a-Filo is still a work in progress and he has his moments in run blocking but still needs to polish up his pass protection. He has the skill set to be better at it, but he is having normal rookie growing pains that are expected. The big change for Su’a-Filo is that he is working with the first team offense at right guard, and is expected to stay there until Brandon Brooks comes back healthy.

-Rookie Sam Longo, who arrived to camp late, finally had time to show off his sheer strength for an offensive lineman. The center dominated his man in 1 v 1s and had no issues handling the pass rush. Longo finally got a chance to show something in camp, and he took full advantage of his chance against the Falcons.

-C.J. Fiedorowicz has started to evolve as a pass catcher today and made some good connections with Fitzpatrick throughout practice. He is looking like he is understanding what is asked from him in routes and catching the ball with confidence. He is starting to turn into a reliable target after that part of his game was in question coming out of Iowa. Throw in what he was able to do blocking as a tight end, Fiedorowicz is turning into an early success for the Texans.

-A.J. Bouye continued his rise to more playing time with the Texans and it started today with him handling Falcons wide receiver Roddy White. He had several pass breakups and it was an apparent confidence booster with what he was able to accomplish against one of the best receivers in the NFL. He was able to body up and play physical in coverage but had enough awareness to back off and play the football when it was in the air. If there was any question what he brings to the defense, he put it on display for all to see against better competition.

-Rookie cornerbacks Andre Hal and Marcus Williams are looking like they could be assets to the organization with their recent work the past few weeks at camp. Hal has a ability to cover and understands what it takes to cover in the NFL while Williams is very explosive for his size and tackles well in space.

Against the Falcons today, they were forced to go up against the first team and surprisingly they held their own and did not back down from either Roddy White or Harry Douglas. Williams stood out when he played press coverage against White and woke the veteran up when the rookie gave him a quick jam at the line of scrimmage to throw him off his route. The two rookies are really taking to their coaching and coming along nicely and could factor into roster decisions down the road.

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