The team is still on their extreme pace of work on the field trying to get as much field work before OTAs comes to an end next Friday.
The work has been steady and the team is looking more comfortable with what O’Brien is coaching.
Day Five Review
Quarterbacks Settling In
For one of the first times, it looked like the Texans quarterback group was somewhat comfortable in the new offense. This offense is calling for pace and quickness from the quarterback to get the ball out in a hurry which requires them to speed up their movements. The drilling of what is wanted from behind center over the past week looks to be paying off and looks to be paying off with the quarterbacks working well with the receivers. The speed at which the offense requires the quarterback to work will be a considerable difference on what has been seen here before.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has picked it up during practice and his passes have some more velocity behind it than what was shown last week. He is still working to be the unquestioned starter but there is still work to do to become more consistent inside the pocket.
Arian Out of the Backfield
Running back Arian Foster will be used similarly to how the Patriots have used Danny Woodhead and Kevin Faulk in past seasons. Expect Foster’s production to come from catching passes which separated him as a player during his big season in 2011. The Texans want to keep Foster healthy and are putting some focus on him to be a go to player once again in the offense.
O’Brien will try to utilize Foster in space and his ability to catch the football which is essential to make the offense work. Foster has been quiet and worked hard to meet O’Brien’s expectations and there are many times where you will see the two talking after plays.
Bill O’Brien Challenging His Players
One thing that has taken a life of its own is how O’Brien has pushed some of his key veterans to be more than what they were with the previous regime. Kareem Jackson, Arian Foster, DeVeir Posey, Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus are some of the players that have been pushed outside their comfort zone to be better players in order to help the team.
O’Brien has preached versatility and he is intent in turning his roster into those type of players. It is not just the young ones that have been expected to be those type of players, but it is reaching to players who have been with the team for some time.
Kareem Jackson as Confident as Ever
Gone are the days of the Kareem Jackson still trying to feel his way through practice. He has matured into a team leader that the younger corners are looking up to. Jackson is practicing with a confidence that shows with his coverage skills on the field. He has already picked off two passes in five days and he has done it with his head down in work mode.
The new system allows Jackson to play zone coverage with his eyes to the line of scrimmage to see the play develop unlike the previous seasons when he struggled at times in man coverage. Those struggles in man coverage led to some big plays, but that is all behind him now. He is helping direct traffic and is constantly talking to defensive backs coach John Butler. With Johnathan Joseph out, Jackson has taken the leadership role with his secondary teammates by taking time between plays to discuss routes and coverages.
Since his rookie season in 2010 where he struggled, Jackson has grown into a player ready to take an even bigger step in 2014.
Justin Tuggle Has Two Good Resources
Second year inside linebacker Justin Tuggle has made a strong push to be more than just a special teams standout like he was in 2013 when he led the team’s play in tackles. Tuggle finally has a position that he can concentrate on unlike last season when he was shuffled back and forth between outside and inside linebacker.
Tuggle took this offseason to become a better inside linebacker. He talked about how inside linebacker coach Mike Vrabel has provided some life to the position and how him and his father, former Atlanta Falcons star Jessie Tuggle have helped him get more prepared this season.
“I got to go home for a little bit and just be with my Dad. To sit down and talk things over with him every night and just watch film with him. Get in the playbook and doing little things like that to help me out.”
“Coach Vrabel brings another dimension to it and I am so thankful to have him here. He is like my Dad and has played in the league for a long time and he has a lot of experience playing inside and outside. He brings an energy to the linebacker room that we didn’t really have before.”
Jay Prosch the Fullback
He is currently the only real fullback on the roster made for the position and he is the perfect fit for the position. It is a controlled environment for Prosch who makes his living moving opposing players so that running backs can produce. He has shown some good ability to catch the football but for his size at 6-1 and 256 lbs., he can still lead block in a variety of ways.
He may not touch the ball but his value for the offense will grow for what he can do for the running game.
- Safety D.J. Swearinger has practiced much more in control and focused on his job in the secondary. Criticism of Swearinger last season was more about his lack of control during games but his practice habits reflect a totally different player.
- Inside linebacker Brooks Reed looks much better at his new position as OTAs has progressed. Reed looks more confident with his movements in the defense and it has been a good learning period for the new inside player.
- The slot wide receiver position according to Bill O’Brien must have the quickness to get in and out of breaks but more importantly read the defense when the huddle breaks.
- Rutgers Head Coach Ralph Friedgen took in Texans practice from the sideline.