11 Observations from Day Seven of Texans Training Camp
The bounce back for C.J. Stroud led to the best play of the day
The Houston Texans are one week away from their first preseason game against the New England Patriots. After a day off the team was back at work with a padded practice.
Here are 11 observations from the workout on August 3.
It was the best day C.J. Stroud has had yet. The rookie quarterback was crisp with everything he did early in practice. Stroud looked in control and executed his ball placement at a high level for most of the day. It is awesome to see this type of practice after two practices where he didn’t perform as well. It displays Stroud’s ability to bounce back.
C.J. Stroud and the offense authored one of their best drives of all training camp on Thursday. Stroud was methodical in his approach and quick to make decisions. He started the drive with an effortless pitch and catch to Robert Woods and eventually, the offense was in the red zone. Stroud lofted one to the back corner of the endzone and Nico Collins came down with it for a score over Derek Stingley. It was a well executed drive. Later, Stroud had a scramble for 19 yards to get the team in field goal position.
Davis Mills answered with a scoring drive of his own. Mills led the offense into the red zone but didn’t get all the way to the endzone. On one play in the drive Jacob Martin came flying in as he didn’t bite on a play action. The drive ended with the first sighting of Ka'imi Fairbairn in the team portion of practice. The kick was good.
While the offense started hot, it didn’t finish that way. The defense started to catch up and create some messy pockets for the quarterback. The operation was inconsistent from the messy pockets for both Mills and Stroud. I did enjoy seeing the offense combat the tough pass rush with some quick passing. That worked well. Stroud had his best day, and Mills has had better days, but Stroud pulls ahead in the standings. Stroud leads Mills 3-2-2 through seven practices.
Center Scott Quessenberry was injured at practice and had to be carted off the field. It is one of the grueling aspects of football. Everyone hit their knee as the trainers attended to him and loaded him up. His teammates came over to give him their best, and when I say his teammates I mean damn near every single person went over to him. It sucks for Quessenberry who was playing well in camp to this point. Juice Scruggs took over his reps after the injury.
The rushing attack had a few nice plays on Thursday. You can tell the offense is building on successes each day as there is more and more for the running backs and the passing game. Dameon Pierce had a run I believe would have been a touchdown from about 20 yards out. The play was whistled dead but based on where Pierce could have realistically encountered the first defender, I say touchdown.
Will Anderson got a wakeup call in practice Thursday. The rookie defensive lineman was tasked with trying to beat Laremy Tunsil on a few plays. Tunsil made success look easy. I’m not sure it was, but Tunsil handled Anderson on one rep to the point where nobody was moving unless Laremy Tunsil moved them. Later in a rushing play the two tangled to draw, neither giving an inch. Anderson still had some nice plays Thursday as one memorable one he blew up a run play pushing the offensive lineman into the running back.
The defense got a little handsy a few times. It seemed like the aggression was a little much for the officials who called what looked like pass interference. There were multiple first downs awarded via penalty on the defense. One penalty robbed rookie wideout Xavier Hutchinson of a great play. Davis Mills uncorked one down the left sideline and Hutchinson was just short having it bounce off his fingertips. The flag was out though as the defensive back affected Hutchinson. I will score it a big catch for the rookie.
Henry To’oTo’o is a fun watch on the field. I don’t know that you can always say that about a middle linebacker, but you can about him. He’s constantly barking at teammates seemingly to line them up in the right spots. He’s had tackles for losses and stuffs for no gains. Thursday he had a pass breakup. I don’t know if he is going to start, but he is going to play for the Texans defense.
The running backs catch the ball well. San Francisco targeted running backs nearly a fourth of the time they threw the ball last year. I don’t know if the number will be that high in Houston, but the backs are working on being ready. Dameon Pierce had a great play where he looked to be headed outside and darted back inside for a smooth catch and run for a first down.
John Metchie spoke after practice. There was a lot of focus on Metchie’s story getting back to football after cancer. The stories Metchie told were uplifting and he challenged everyone to keep fighting no matter their hardships. He mentioned dealing with thoughts of not playing football again and even his mortality. Metchie said he leaned on faith, family, and friends. The story that stuck out to me was when Metchie said he brought some of his fellow patients who were in similar fights to NRG stadium. He explained where a lot of the patients were in the hospital they could see NRG stadium and it was great to be in the building they had all seen while getting treatment. He said he wants to do that very activity a lot more. It is worth your time listening to the 23-year old talk about his last year of life. Oh, and as for football, Metchie said he is 110 percent and feels better than even his college football days.
The Texans will return to workouts on Friday. Juice Scruggs at center after the Scott Quessenberry injury will be something to monitor.
Steven Nelson $tays!
The Texans agreed to an amended contract that gives cornerback Steven Nelson a higher earning celieing in 2023. Aaron Wilson of KPRC reported the contract.
Nelson now can earn up to $6.5 million this season. It is a good move by general manager Nick Caserio as Nelson has been a good player in camp and it keeps the cornerback room as one of the deepest on the team. Props to Nelson who showed up, despite some offseason social media postings, and played well to earn this opportunity.
This is a situation that feels like it would have gotten out of hand under Bill O’Brien and Jack Easterby. Instead, the Texans took care of Steven Nelson and Nelson did his part by playing well. Kudos to all involved.
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