Day seven of practice has been very comparable to previous ones where it is becoming second nature on meeting the expectations of Head Coach Bill O’Brien.
Here is a look on Monday’s happenings.
Four is a Crowd
Bill O’Brien made it known that the quarterback practice time is built for three quarterbacks and not four. O’Brien today after practice said:
“Anytime you have four, I don’t think it’s easy to divide the reps. I think you can really only give three guys reps in a practice, which is basically what we’ve been doing.”
Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tom Savage have been getting their work accordingly with both being hand-picked by O’Brien through free agency and the draft, respectively. This puts the spotlight on holdovers T.J. Yates and Case Keenum on if both make it to training camp.
Yates and Keenum have been asked to fit into O’Brien’s new offense and for a system that calls for arm strength, Yates is clearly ahead of Keenum. This is especially evident on throws outside the numbers and intermediate timing throws to the middle of the field. Any throws not thrown with pace and velocity become sitting ducks for defenders. The offense calls for the quarterback to be able to make throws from in the pocket to all areas of the field and quarterbacks with less than average arm strength are exposed.
A quarterback like Savage has everything needed to run this offense in terms of skills set, but getting him there mentally is the coaching staffs’ biggest task. While Fitzpatrick is still feeling his way through the offense, he has had moments of good and bad throughout the OTAs.
Brooks Reed Catching UpWatching Brooks Reed work at inside linebacker has almost become a normal day at the office. He is constantly working on understanding his reads and run fits by talking to linebacker coach Mike Vrabel and getting extra work on the side by himself when others are working on the field.
Reed being a big part of the success of the 2014 defense depends on how quick he can pick up his new position. He is learning the nuances of the position and has turned his focus on understanding the downhill mentality needed for the position.
His ability to grow into the position will be a key storyline heading into training camp.
Josh Victorian Shines
Players who miss time there is a chance others take the opportunity and run with it and cornerback Josh Victorian has done that. Victorian intercepted a pass intended for a receiver on the sideline and made a nice break on the ball in the air and tapped two feet in bounds to complete the play.
Also, he has been putting in good work during special teams sessions and showing he has the ability to contribute like he did last season for the Texans. With the cornerback position thin, Victorian is putting together a strong OTAs to push for a a key role on the roster and provide some solid depth.
A Nose for Every Occasion
The Texans currently have three nose tackles on the roster in Jerrell Powe, Ricardo Matthews and Louis Nix III. All three bring something different to the table for the Texans that give the team what O’Brien has preached since day one, “versatility”. All three allow the Texans defense to play to defend against different offensive styles. Powe gives the defense an in the trenches plugger for the run game, Matthews is a pass rushing nose on sub packages and Nix is a combination of both that will be the future of the position.
It is a good combination to have for a defensive line that struggled with personnel last season and all three barring injury should be on the 53 man roster when the season opens.
Clowney Starting to Click
Jadeveon Clowney is a work in progress and getting him ready to go for week one is Romeo Crennel’s goal for the defense. He showed how he can explode through small openings if given the chance. Tight End Ryan Griffin was run blocking Clowney and at the snap Clowney was by Griffin before he knew what happened by flying inside and stopping the ball carrier.
His physical ability on the field will make an impact but until Clowney becomes a pass rush off the edge he will have some struggles.
Prosch Will Be a Piece of the Offense
“I think anytime you’re in the draft and you have a situation where you can help your team personnel-wise on offense by drafting a fullback like Prosch…”
Bill O’Brien expanded on how much he likes rookie fullback Jay Prosch and he will be the lead blocker of choice for the season. His value is noticeable on offense and he offers some pass catching ability when needed out of the backfield. Add in the fact he can help on special teams, Prosch will bring a mentality to the offense that has been missed, a hard-nosed enforcer.
Special Teams Focus
It sounds funny but the special teams focus by special teams coach Bob Ligashesky is impressive to watch. In his first season as the official special teams coach, Ligashesky has infused a passion into players to excel for perfection in this phase of the game.
With limited time, the Texans maximize their time on the field and the pace that the special teams practice will pay off in the long run. There is no standing around and watching when it comes to teams practice and there is a coach correcting when needed. Whether it is working on downing punts, catching punts or working on protection, the Texans are covering it at a furious pace to get ready for camp.
Outside Linebacker Taking Shape
The outside linebacker position is slowly taking shape and at the moment Whitney Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney and Ricky Sapp appear to have a foot in the door to be on the week one roster. All three make the position group much more athletic to previous groups of outside linebackers in Houston. Mercilus and Clowney have taken to the coaching of Mike Vrabel while Sapp has always had the potential to be a decent edge player but injuries have derailed him.
Add in rookie Jason Ankrah who played defensive end at Nebraska, he has made a nice transition to the position but he will have to impress with the pads on in training camp. The Texans looks much more focused to have some athletic players on the edge and seeing the current group early looks like the pecking order could be setting sooner than later.