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  • 24 observations from #TexansCamp: Day 9

    John HarrisTexans Analyst
    Fun is rarely ever a word that’s used to describe a training camp practice, especially by players, but Friday’s workout was unquestionably fun, for those watching, anyway. There was some serious aggression being released on the field, which made it such a fun day. Here are my observations for day number nine (!!).
    1. First off, let me apologize for not having observations done yesterday. I drove to North Carolina to pick up my son and didn’t get back until dark thirty. Luckily, Thursday was a shorts/T-shirts type of day, while Friday was the day you didn’t want to miss, that’s for sure.

    2. Energy. Juice. Whatever you want to call it, this squad brought it in spades today. The competition was at such a high level in every single drill that the Texans did. Special Teams. Blitz pickup. 7-on-7. 1-on-1s. Team. Situations. Every single competitive aspect had an edge to it and I love that.

    3. Running back Akeem Hunt can get lost in the behemoths on a football field, but that’s one tough dude. He was right in the middle of most of the action throughout the day, it seemed. In pass protection, he spun one of the safeties right around on a blitz pickup. Then, when Hunt was requested again, he held his own again.

    4. Later in team drills, Hunt broke loose with the rock down the sideline and picked up a substantial gain. Then, things sort of went loopy and the defense started screaming and yelling for some reason. It was on the other side of the field so I couldn’t see what happened but Hunt took the next play off. I asked him what happened and he said “I got a little too hyped.” That’s the type of day it was. He’s so much tougher than anyone ever expected when the Texans nabbed him off the Baltimore Ravens practice squad in 2015.

    5. As practice began, DeAndre Hopkins led off the first team drill of the day with an end zone Hopkins special, snatching the rock off the head of a defensive back for a touchdown on a brilliant throw from Tom Savage.

    6. Running back Alfred Blue then followed up, down on the goal line, with a run for a touchdown. Two consecutive plays. Two touchdowns. The defense had a little huddle up session a few minutes later. Not surprisingly, a can of defensive you-know-what was opened shortly thereafter.

    7. At this point last year, tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz was coming off of a 17 catch season and was thought by many to be one of the last options in the passing game. 365 days later, he’s come so far as an option in the passing game. The loss of Will Fuller V is going to impact this offense, but Fiedorowicz has established himself as a weapon in this passing game that it will help mitigate the second year receiver’s loss a bit. Fiedorowicz’s ability to get open has improved greatly and that was evident on Friday.

    8. Eddie Pleasant has seemingly won nearly every single rep during blitz pickup. I’ve been watching for days and I haven’t seen him lose much at all.

    9. I haven’t written much about fullback Jay Prosch but he was excellent in blitz pickup throughout the drill.

    10. When that blitz pickup drill was over, the defense was forced to do push ups, but, again, the defense rebounded well the rest of the day.

    11. I said a few days ago, and for a number of days in a row, that the quarterbacks hadn’t thrown any interceptions, but Friday, that changed. Robert Nelson made a pick down the field off of Tom Savage and Corey Moore ended practice with a pick of Deshaun Watson.

    12. On Nelson’s pick, Whitney Mercilus was held and still helped forced a bad throw. Ted Johnson and I spent the day talking about practice and we saw the same thing as it happened. Whitney is so much more advanced in his pass rush game the past four years. On one rep, Teddy even compared Mercilus’ pass rush manuever to one of Ted’s former teammates - Mike Vrabel. Heard of him?

    13. I wrote in my notebook at least three different times - 59 wins again.

    14. As the competition heated up and the energy of practice went up an octave or three, quarterback Deshaun Watson led a pair of scoring drives.

    15. The first one had a brilliant four play sequence that showed a little bit of everything from the rookie quarterback. He hit four different receivers on four consecutive plays to get the ball in the end zone and the offense celebrated its success after tight end Rashaun Allen bullied his way into the end zone for the touchdown. Let’s just say the defense didn’t take too kindly to the, uh, celebration.

    16. DeAndrew White can climb the ladder and has flashed some strong hands in the, what, four days that he’s been in camp? Later in practice, he went high to snatch a Watson throw across the middle that seemed destined to sail out of the back of the end zone.

    17. Crew Chief Clete Blakeman was on hand for the second straight day with three members of his crew to get some pre-preseason work done. Those officials got a little bit of help from the offensive coaching staff on one play that didn’t exactly sit well with a revved up defensive unit.

    18. The competitive level of all of the individuals down on the field is off the charts. It’s clear that everyone wants the Texans to do well, the team, but, for example, it’s clear that offensive coaches want to completely dominate the defensive coaches and vice versa. Just watching from afar, it’s clear that there’s a lot of pride, if nothing else, at stake with every single rep and that’ll make this 2017 team that much better.

    19. Later in practice, Watson led a second touchdown scoring drive when he hit fellow rookie receiver Riley McCarron on a short throw and run for a touchdown. McCarron shook off an arm tackle attempt and sprinted for the touchdown.

    20. After the score, Watson leapt in the arms of his offensive line as if the offense had just scored the go-ahead touchdown against the Colts in week 17.

    21. So, when Moore intercepted Watson on the final throw of the day, the defense was more than a bit effusive in its celebration as Moore slid down, as if at the end of a game.

    22. Prior to that last set of team drives in the red zone, Savage finished one red zone drive with a touchdown throw to Jaelen Strong.

    23. On the following set of plays, Bryce Jones and Denzel Rice had back-to-back pass breakups. DeAndrew White nearly had a one handed gem down the far sideline but Rice knocked away the Deshaun Watson throw at the last second.

    24. Brandon Weeden lasered one to Dare Ogunbowale across the middle for a touchdown on the following set of downs.
    Tomorrow will be the last day of pads before a day off on Sunday. When the Texans take the practice field after the day off, they’ll be just over 48 hours away from kicking off against the Panthers in Charlotte on Wednesday night. It’s almost here, but there’s more work to be done tomorrow. We’ll see you then, everyone.




    Comment


    • Mark Berman @MarkBermanFox26
      #Texans receiver DeAndrew White suffered a groin injury during practice Friday. Out an indefinite amount of time

      Comment


      • Originally posted by H2O4me View Post
        Mark Berman @MarkBermanFox26
        And the injury bug strikes again
        sigpic

        Bleeds Texans Blue Red and White Blood.

        Comment


        • Sarah Barshop, ESPN Staff Writer
          The Texans completed their 10th practice of training camp today, and it's clear that Tom Savage has had the best camp at his position. Deshaun Watson has looked good, as well, and has impressed the coaching staff with how far he's progressed in the past few months, but Savage has shown he's the No. 1 quarterback.

          Houston Texans‏ @HoustonTexans
          Cushing on goals: "Just continue to get better, continue to practice... Try to limit mistakes and lead the guys the best I can."

          Cushing: "Every single one of these practices, you have to cherish."

          Cushing: "I'm a competitive person. I am a lot happier when I'm playing football."

          Cushing on playing 9+ years: "You find a way."

          Cushing: "Just trying to be the best person and player I can be."

          Cushing on leadership: "It's something that I take extremely seriously. I love hearing that. It's something earned over many years."

          Brian Cushing: "Just the love of the game. It's a competitive atmosphere."

          O'Brien: "Every play is a test and they are just trying to get better every day."

          O'Brien on Jaelen Strong: "Jaelen is battling. He's competing everyday. He's just trying to get better."

          O'Brien: "I think we are in good condition, but the game is different... Most of the evaluation will happen on film."

          O'Brien on the game against the #Panthers: "Everyone that's able to play will play in the game."

          Bill O'Brien on doing push-ups after #TexansCamp: "You have to hold yourself accountable."
          John McClain‏ @McClain_on_NFL
          Bill O'Brien was asked today if JJ Watt would play Wednesday against Carolina. "Yeah," he said, adding everyone healthy will play.

          It was such a nice day, practice lasted almost 2:15 before O'Brien ended it. Players get their second day off Sunday.

          O'Brien called out the wrong drill, shouted "I screwed up" and dropped to do 30 pushups while the players egged him on.

          After overthrowing 2 WRs in end zone, Weeden found undrafted WR Justin Hardee for a TD after he made an exceptional move to get open.

          Second-year WR Wendall Williams took a short out from Watson and turned it into a long TD when he outran the DBs. He's got incredible speed.

          Hopkins ran a crossing route through back of end zone and Savage hit him perfectly on a pass thrown through 3 defenders.

          CB Denzel Rice made a leaping INT in back of end zone on a pass thrown by Brandon Weeden. Rice has been impressive.

          One of the many things I like about Watson is how he's unafraid 2 throw it away if he can't find a receiver open stead of trying 2 force it

          TE Ryan Griffin, 6-6, made a leaping catch in back of end zone on a pass from Savage, who threw it to only spot DBs couldn't get to it.

          RB Akeem Hunt, 1 of the team's fastest players, dropped a pass but caught 2 good ones over middle and near the sideline while covered well.

          Clowney, listed at OLB on depth chart, played more RDE than OLB in practice today, as he does every day.

          RB Tyler Ervin also lines up in slot and wide. He made two excellent catches in traffic, turned it up the field and took off at warp speed.

          Second-year RB Tyler Ervin continues to catch and run well. So quick getting up the field. Quick cuts, excellent acceleration.

          Texans have 5 players from Clemson, and fans will want to see Deshaun Watson the most, of course, cause he won them a national title.

          By the way, I can't wait to see all the Clemson orange at Carolina when Texans begin regular season in nationally televised game Wednesday.

          Emptying notebook after Saturday's practice: TE CJ Fiedorowicz open deep down left side and caught a perfect throw from Savage for a TD.

          Watson showed again in practice today he can throw with velocity and accuracy going to his left. Overthrew a couple but lots of zip.

          Bill O'Brien hasn't told us how much he'll play his QBs. I'd like 2 c Watson get 2 quarters. He and Savage need all the reps they can get.

          Tom Savage has been terrific in the first 2 weeks of camp. He's clearly No. 1. Makes every throw, respected by teammates, knows this offense

          Deshawn Watson continues to impress the coaches with he way he's adjusted mentally to a difficult system. Improving every day.

          Deshaun Watson, who entered the offseason program as No. 3, worked his way into the backup role. Has taken every snap in camp with 2nd team.








          -houstontexans.com



          Coomer/chron

          Comment


          • 18 observations from #TexansCamp: Day 10

            John Harris/Texans Analyst
            I’ve been chilly once at a training camp practice and that was in 2015 in Richmond, VA during/after a torrential downpour when we visited for practices with the Redskins. Today was the second day. A beautiful day in the Valley with temperatures in the low 60s was the highlight of the day, even it was a bit chilly. Here are my observations from the team one day before a well earned day off.
            1. It was a no-pads day, so Marc Vandermeer wins the bet. I thought the team would be in pads Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday...so I missed today. As such, there was really no physical aspect to practice, so my observations are more OTA/minicamp-like, if you will.

            2. The foursquare competition before practice is getting more and more fierce by the minute. When the horn blew to start practice, there was a huge cheer from the players. My assumption was that no coach won. It didn’t matter what player won; the players just don’t want to see a coach win, especially as defensive line coach Anthony Weaver had held the title recently.

            3. A young man held up a sign that read: "J.J, I came all the way from Delaware to play 4-square with you.” So, Watt brought him out of the stands and he stayed in the game for a few turns.

            4. Practice was wrought with situations. Any type of situation that the team could work on - late game, late in a half, down and distance, behind in the game, ahead in the game - both units worked on these for about a half hour at the end of practice.

            5. About halfway through practice, Coach O’Brien started giving instructions to the players where he wanted everyone to go. Then, he realized that he had overlooked a scheduled special teams period. Immediately, he dropped to do push ups and took some good natured ribbing from a few of the Texans players. The rumor is he did 30 for this mistake.
            6. The quarterbacks threw the ball well throughout the day; it was perhaps their best day in camp, navigating the defense, finding open receivers, with better than average ball placement, especially down in the red zone.

            7. Defensive lineman D.J. Reader couldn’t have had more of a gift fall into his hands during a team drill. He couldn’t get to the quarterback so he started to pursue while the quarterback (I believe it was Savage) still had the ball in his hands. Trying to find a receiver breaking open, Savage threw late and Reader was right in the throwing lane. He...dropped it. Immediate regret and pain came over him because when is he going to have another chance at a pick?

            8. After that, though, the quarterbacks went to work, up and down the field. Savage ended his first team drill with a perfectly thrown ball to Ryan Griffin for a touchdown Griffin beat the safety and had a step but with not much room to stick it into Griffin, Savage dropped it right on the fifth year tight end.

            9. Just prior to that play, Savage hit Griffin on what I termed a “perfect throw” in my notebook. That touchdown throw was pretty much the same.

            10. Deshaun Watson then led the second offense to a touchdown as well. On the third play, he hit Devin Street for key first down. Two plays later, he found speedy Wendall Williams for a touchdown.

            11. Williams had a strong day, overall. He caught a couple of touchdowns, both from Watson, I believe. That man can absolutely fly and this was seemingly his best day at camp.

            12. Brandon Weeden then looked to receiver Justin Hardee three straight times, completing all three, before the drill was over.

            13. During 7-on-7, the quarterbacks all found the end zone on their drives. Savage got the Texans in the end zone in three plays, completing a touchdown pass over the middle to DeAndre Hopkins.

            14. Watson also put the Texans in the end zone in three plays. Offensive weapon Tyler Ervin climbed the ladder on the far sideline to make a catch on first down and two plays later Devin Street hardly had to move as Watson found him for a touchdown.

            15. Weeden also found paydirt, locating his favorite receiver (at least on Saturday) Justin Hardee for a touchdown on the third play of his drive.

            16. Later in practice, defensive back Denzel Rice came up with another turnover forced or takeaway as he picked off Weeden’s pass for Justin Hardee. Rice has been a turnover forcing machine the past ten days or so.

            17. The rest of the practice was situation work that will eventually pay off in a game down the road. I’ve never seen a team work so much on situations that could potentially arise in a game more than the Texans.

            18. The Texans play on Wednesday, which was reiterated to the players a few different times throughout practice. The purpose of the reminder was to let them know that they better know what to do by Wednesday night (if not already). The separation between finding a spot on the roster and being waived in late August can often come down which guy knows the playbook inside and out, at all times.
            Well, that’s about it, folks. No practice tomorrow so we’ll be back on Monday, two days before the Texans take on the Panthers. Fans will get a chance to see this 2017 squad for the first time. I can’t wait. Monday will be a final dress rehearsal for that matchup. We’ll see you then, everyone.

            Comment




            • SiriusXM NFL Radio‏ @SiriusXMNFL
              #Texans WR Braxton Miller: It's a learning curve, it's a different eyesight than being behind the center. But I'm picking it up.

              #Texans starting QB Tom Savage: I'm looking at the big picture. Ultimately, my job is to protect the ball & move the sticks.

              #Texans CB Kareem Jackson: A sour taste was left in our mouth last year. We know the type of team we can be if we go out & continue to work.

              #Texans LB Brian Cushing on new DC Mike Vrabel: He's an intense football guy. He has so much passion. It's all geared towards football.

              #Texans LB Whitney Mercilus: We have guys who are versatile, guys who can move up & down the line, and create different match-ups.

              #Texans DE JJ Watt on being excited to get back on the field: Whenever they do let me out of the cage, I go out there and really let it fly.

              .@JJWatt is just happy to be back on the field - catch the @HoustonTexans training camp tour show NOW on Ch. 88! #TexansCamp

              Mike Vrabel on JJ Watt: Sometimes you have to protect him from himself because he wants to go and practice the whole day. #TexansCamp

              #Texans DC Mike Vrabel: I believe our guys know what they are doing. They are fast and aggressive. And I believe in the competitive spirit.

              Bill O'Brien on rookie QB Deshaun Watson: He makes mistakes, but he fixes them. He won't make the same mistake twice. #TexansCamp

              Bill O'Brien on Braxton Miller: Braxton has really improved. He's a dynamic guy. I'm happy with where he's at.

              #Texans HC Bill O'Brien on his QBs: Tom's got good command of what we're doing & has Watson behind him playing well. It's fun to coach them.

              The Head Coach, Bill O'Brien sits down with Jim and Pat right now from @HoustonTexans camp
              Pat Kirwan‏ @PatKirwanRFN
              In the lat 3 yrs Hou had to start 8 different QBs and they combined for just 64 TD passes over 48 games (1.3 per game) they will be better

              Houston DC Mike Vrabel likes the progress DJ Reader&S Andre Hal are making as critical replacements for Vince Wilfork&Quinton Demps

              Coach O'Brien likes the progress Braxton Miller and young Julian Davenport are making.

              Getting ready to do a radio show from Texans camp-Coach O'Brien will join us as well as Coach Vrabel, & players-team looked good at practice

              Jeff Allen has dropped 20 pounds, fixing his diet.

              DQ still is not as strong as he was before the Dx as far as weight room numbers. "I've had some up and down days."

              Last edited by H2O4me; 2 weeks ago.

              Comment


              • Houston Texans‏ @HoustonTexans
                "I want to go out there and put on a show...compete the best that I can."-RB D'Onta Foreman on preseason opener.

                Savage on #Texans quarterbacks: "We are always communicating with one another. We want to win games... We have to be a tight-knit group."

                Savage: "The defense is doing a heck of a job and we are competing, battling each other. Communication on offense is good right now."

                Savage on Wednesday's #TexansGameday: "Every time we strap those pads on, it's important."

                "Consistency."-QB Tom Savage on main goal vs Panthers. Also wants to score points, protect the ball.

                O'Brien: "I love every part of working with the quarterbacks. They are good guys... easy to coach."

                O'Brien on Wednesday's #TexansGameday: "I just want them to come out, play well, play clean... Try to play a clean game."

                O'Brien on Wednesday's #TexansGameday: "All three quarterbacks will play in the game."

                Bill O'Brien on #Panthers: "Everybody that's able to play will play."

                Q: What do you remember from playing in your first NFL game? Was that that preseason game just a blur?

                Savage: Na... actually I don't remember any of it. I think I blacked out.

                Q: Really? (ooos, ahhs)

                Savage: No, just kidding. I remember it. I think I checked down like 5 times in a row.



                Comment


                • Sarah Barshop, ESPN Staff Writer
                  Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said he is looking for "a clean game" from all three of his quarterbacks on Wednesday night against the Panthers. "Good operation of the offense. Take care of the football. Getting in and out of the huddle quickly," O'Brien said of what he wants to see from his quarterbacks. "Everybody on the same page and see if we can score some points."

                  Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said he has a lot of fun working with quarterbacks Tom Savage, Deshaun Watson and Brandon Weeden. "They're easy to coach," O'Brien said. "They have good suggestions. They're really smart. They understand our offense, so they have good questions. They keep you on your toes."

                  Tom Savage will start at quarterback in the Texans' first preseason game on Wednesday night against the Panthers. Deshaun Watson and Brandon Weeden will also see the field.



                  The 20 lbs. Jeff Allen lost over the offseason...

                  Ended up on XSF. And then some.





                  --houstontexans.com

                  Comment


                  • Sua Filo...

                    I've tried to be a supporter of his and point towards the baby steps he's taken forward as he progresses in his career, but I'm done with this guy. Every year its the same thing with him.. he shows up pudgy but improves his technique just enough to take another baby step forward, but if you don't care enough about your career to take care of your body and show up to camp with at least good anaerobic conditioning, then this team needs to move on. This dude has potential, but can't be bothered to say "no" to his second dozen of crispy kreme donuts. Keep shoveling food into your gullet as you dig the grave to your career!

                    Comment



                    • Photo: Brett Coomer, Staff

                      Creech: Reflections on a week in West Virginia

                      Jenny Dial Creech
                      CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It's time for me to make my way back to Houston after a week following the Texans from West Virginia to Charlotte during their second week of camp.

                      You've seen the photos of the facilities and the area (I posted several on Instagram @jennydialcreech if you care to see more) and now I thought I'd share a few experiences from my trip.

                      Obviously, I saw a lot of the Texans. But I also spent time in a charming town, met a lot of interesting people, got a steal on a pair of Kate Spade shoes and learned more than I ever could have imagined about what to do whenever encountering a bear in the mountains near the Greenbrier.

                      Last week I flew to Charlotte and drove for three hours and 45 minutes through three states (North Carolina, Virginia then West Virginia) before reaching Lewisburg, W.V. which was voted the "coolest small town in America in 2011." I know this because there are signs on every road leading into the town to remind you.

                      I'm not sure "cool" is the word I would use for Lewisburg (stores close at 5 and restaurants around 9 every evening), but it is a charming, picturesque and friendly place.

                      Every business had a sign welcoming Texans fans, players and families. Wait staff, shop owners and locals all made a point to say hello to the strangers invading the small town a few miles away from the Greenbrier, where the team was staying and practicing.

                      Every morning, I'd head to practice around 9:30 and get this ... I wore a jacket every day. It was in the 50s when I left every day. By the time practice was over, the weather was a pleasant 72-ish. It's hard to argue that this was a better situation than the Houston heat (and heavy rains that I missed last week.)

                      From the standpoint of a media member covering the team, the weather, the scenery, the whole atmosphere suited the coaches and players well.

                      After practices in Houston, the players are (as you can imagine) beyond hot, exhausted and ready to get inside for hydration and treatment.

                      In West Virginia, they were hot and tired after intense practices, but they weren't in a big hurry to scurry off. The practice fields sit in a valley between mountains covered in green. No one was ever in a hurry to leave.

                      Players, coaches, staff who had family with them played on the fields after practice. It was all very pleasant.

                      The players and coaches were genuinely happy to be there and it showed.

                      When the work day was done, media hanging out in town would grab dinner at one of the several locally- run restaurants. Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni gave me several dining suggestions before I left- they were all terrific.

                      The main street of downtown had several little shops. Some were antiques (where I found a lot of things from the 80s ... that made me feel old.)

                      John McClain introduced me to some of his friends -- a couple from Texas who has a summer home in the area. The woman was kind enough to show me around one afternoon. I spent a few hours looking at handmade art and jewelry and meeting the local women and men who own the stores and restaurants.

                      One was a shoe store that has been around for 100 years. (I am coming home with two new pairs because the deals on great brands were out of control.)

                      I even ate tacos while I was there. And while they weren't Texas-level good, they satisfied the craving every Texan gets when away from Mexican food too long (or wait, is that just me?)

                      On my last day in town, I drove up Kate's Mountain on a semi-scary gravel road to park and hike and take in the views.

                      I asked a park ranger about this before venturing out.

                      He told me it would be beautiful and I would be fine. I should watch for snakes, he said. Oh, and bears.

                      "People feed them so sometimes they come up to you," he said nonchalantly.

                      "Um, should I feed them?" I asked not understanding what I was supposed to do if the situation arose.

                      He just laughed. I wasn't joking.

                      I decided to risk it and go anyway. I didn't see a bear. I did google what to do just in case (back away slowly in case you ever find yourself face to face with a bear.)

                      All in all, the trip to West Virginia was a good one.

                      The Texans should keep the place in rotation for training camp for sure and I would encourage fans to think about making the trip themselves. It's a nice escape from Houston and time will tell if it benefited the team to make the trek.

                      I'm heading back but our Texans team (McClain, Aaron Wilson and Brett Coomer) are still there and will be providing tons of coverage from the Greenbrier and from the 2011 Coolest Small Town in America.

                      Seems like all reports are the Greenbrier was a great choice for the team.

                      Comment



                      • Photo: Brett Coomer, Staff

                        West Virginia great place to visit, and there's Texans camp to boot

                        By John McClain
                        White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. - Consider this a postcard from the edge of a mountain. They're everywhere. That's why they call it the Mountain State.

                        This is the first time I've been to West Virginia. It's gorgeous. The people are so nice and can't seem to say enough good things about having so many visitors from Houston.

                        And the weather? My goodness. It's terrific. I'm a native Texan who covered the Oilers' moving training camp all over the state to the Texans' having camp at their practice facility.

                        As someone who spent more than 30 years standing around in the heat and humidity of Texas summers to watch our NFL teams, I can't tell you how happy I am to get cool weather in late July and early August.

                        One night last week, the low was 48, and the high was 62. Another night, it was 51 and 64. We've been getting a high of 80 recently, but the Texans were finished with practice at 12:30, so it was in the 70s.

                        My wife and many of my friends are tired of my telling them about the weather when they're roasting in Houston. Sorry, but I just can't help it.

                        The Texans' players and coaches are soaking up the atmosphere and loving every minute of it. Only time will tell if we think moving camp to West Virginia has an effect on their record.

                        Brett Coomer, the Chronicle's photographer/videographer extraordinaire, and I flew into Charleston last week. It's the state capital and largest city, with a 2016 estimated census of 50,400. The state has 1.8 million, less than half of the greater Houston area.

                        Brett and I made the one-hour, 55-minute drive to Lewisburg, where we're staying at the Fairfield Inn and Suites, the media hotel. Lewisburg is tremendous, and I'll explain why in a minute.

                        We're about 12 minutes from The Greenbrier, where the Texans are staying. Their practice facility, The Greenbrier Sports and Performance Center, cost $30 million to build for the New Orleans Saints, who elected not to return after three years of having training camp here.

                        The practice facility, including the Houston Methodist fields, is across the road from The Greenbrier. Players are shuttled back and forth.

                        The Greenbrier, one of the nation's oldest and most exclusive resorts, is amazing. There are incredible houses on the golf courses behind guarded gates. You can do just about anything if you're a guest of The Greenbrier, which was established in the late 1700s.

                        A lot of the people here for Texans training camp are taking advantage of what the area has to offer: golfing, fishing, hiking, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, mountain bike riding - all the things I love to do.

                        In my dreams.

                        Now, let me introduce you to Lewisburg, population 3,600. The sign on the interstate says it was voted the coolest small town in America in 2011. And I believe it. What a spectacular place.

                        Hills and mountains. Not many streets. The historic part of downtown Lewisburg is lined with neat restaurants and shops, including lots of outdoor seating to take advantage of the cool weather.

                        At the top of a hill - make a right across the street from the Walmart - is a theater with six screens. It's got all the latest films, but I haven't been able to make it yet.

                        I must tell you about two Baylor buddies, Richard and Tina Butler. They're native Texans who reside in Austin. They attended a Baylor-West Virginia football game in 2014 in Morgantown, about 3½ hours north, and fell in love with the state.

                        Richard and Tina visited The Greenbrier and decided to buy a home here. They took a year to redo a mountaintop home on 40 acres. They invited Brett, my friend Mark Waltz and me to dinner Monday night. It was fantastic. When we got to the top of the mountain, we were above the clouds. Deer were grazing in their yard. What a spectacular sunset. I can't wait to return and take advantage of their hospitality.

                        If you're thinking about coming to the Texans' training camp or you're just looking for a cool place to visit, I'd highly recommend this charming part of West Virginia. It's beautiful. The food is great, and the people are friendly.

                        And oh, there's some football close by until Aug. 18.

                        Come see us!

                        - John


                        Postcard from Texans camp: Welcome to a day in the life

                        West Virginia town impressing visitors with its hospitality, attractions

                        By John McClain
                        WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. - In my second postcard from the edge of the mountain, I want to provide you with a picture of what we do every day at training camp.

                        By we, I mean the Texans, the media and everyone else who has come to West Virginia for the team's first camp away from Houston.

                        I'm also going to tell you where many of us - but not the players and coaches - go in Lewisburg.

                        The media hotel is 12 minutes away from The Greenbrier. It might take 13 depending on the traffic.

                        Lewisburg, with its historic downtown district, is one of the coolest places I've visited. And I'm talking about a picturesque town of 3,600 that impresses everyone with its restaurants, shops and local attractions. And the people are so friendly and helpful. Their hospitality continues to blow me away.

                        Now, let's move on to a typical player's day.

                        The team resides in a wing at The Greenbrier, one of the nation's oldest and most exclusive resorts. They have everything they could possibly want on the premises. The place is so large and so luxurious that the New England Patriots will stay there, too, when they come for two joint practices next week.

                        Each morning, the players, coaches and other personnel are shuttled out the entrance and down the street to The Greenbrier Sports Performance Center. It's a magnificent $30 million structure that was built for the New Orleans Saints, who didn't sign a new contract after three seasons.

                        The coaches and players spend the day at the training facility. They meet, lift weights, undergo rehabilitation for injuries - everything they need - at the Sports Performance Center.

                        A large tent has been constructed at one end of the facility. That's where the players, coaches and other camp have their meals.

                        Next to the dining tent is a smaller tent that was set up for coach Bill O'Brien and his players to do interviews.

                        Outside the facility are two grass practice fields. There are stands for fans on one sideline and in the far end zones from the Sports Performance Center.

                        On the far side - and down a severe incline - is a third field. It's got Field Turf. The Texans have used it once, on Monday when it was raining so hard water was standing on the grass fields.

                        After arriving at the Sports Performance Center at 7:30 or 8 a.m., they eat, meet, have walkthroughs, practice, lunch, meetings, another walkthrough, dinner and more meetings. The players usually finish their team meetings around 8:30 p.m.

                        The media hotel is the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Lewisburg. A beautiful drive - with mountains everywhere - down I-64 to the White Sulphur Springs exit is 7 miles.

                        As for reporters who cover the team, we await an e-mail from the Texans' terrific media relations staff each morning informing us what time practice begins. Because there's been so much rain, O'Brien will often move up the start time from 10:30 a.m. to 10.

                        We usually arrive at the media trailer around 9:15 and get to the fields at 9:30. Brett Coomer, the Chronicle's outstanding photographer/videographer, and I have been here since the day before camp began. And we're loving every minute of it.

                        Let's face it: Who wouldn't like to change places with Brett and me? We're in heaven.

                        During practice, Brett is all over the sidelines shooting photos for the Chronicle and Chron.com. After practice, we interview players for my story and notes in the next day's Chronicle. Then we do video interviews with one or more players for our Texas Training Camp Insider that's posted on our website each afternoon around 4:30.

                        Afterward, we head for the media trailer. Brett and I do a daily Facebook Live chat on the Chronicle Sports Facebook page at 1 p.m.. Brett does all the work. While he spends three hours putting together our training camp insider, I try to do at least five blogs for Chron.com based on what happened that day in practice. I also tweet what I call emptying my practice notebook with things I've observed on the field.

                        Then, finally, I write my story and notes for the newspaper.

                        Throughout the day, I also do my weekly sports radio talk shows in seven cities, including Sports Radio 610 and Texans Radio in Houston. I also do other shows from around the country. I try not to turn down anyone because I think it's rude. If they care enough to invite me on, I should be nice enough to do it. Sports talk shows are a way for me to promote my Twitter as well as the Chronicle and our website.

                        Those of us who made the trip from Houston to West Virginia have found some exceptional places to eat and visit, most recommended by my friends Richard and Tina Butler. They rebuilt a mountaintop home here, but their primary residence is in Austin. Let me put it this way, Richard and Tina have good taste.

                        Brett and I have our favorite spots to dine like Stardust Cafe and General Lewis Inn - both owned by Aaron and Sparrow Huffman.

                        Some other favorite spots are the Livery Tavern, Food and Friends, Del Sol, The Asylum, the French Goat, Hill and Holler, the Irish Pub, The Wild Bean and Cook's Country Kitchen.

                        And we've eaten at Wendy's and Ruby Tuesdays too many times.

                        One of the highlights was earlier this week when the Texans threw a heck of a media dinner for 35 at The Greenbrier's steak restaurant. We had a blast. The Greenbrier has so many restaurants, you never have to leave the place.

                        Coomer likes to take pictures of old buildings, churches and cemeteries, so we've done some exploring in our car. It's a gorgeous area. It's like there's a law in Lewisburg that says if you want to reside here or open a restaurant or shop, it's got to look like it was built in the 1800s. Very quaint and charming.

                        As I wrote last week, if you're thinking about coming, come on. If you're thinking about it next year, make your reservations. You won't regret making the trip to this exquisite part of West Virginia.

                        Until next time,

                        - John

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by H2O4me View Post

                          Photo: Brett Coomer, Staff

                          West Virginia great place to visit, and there's Texans camp to boot

                          By John McClain




                          Postcard from Texans camp: Welcome to a day in the life

                          West Virginia town impressing visitors with its hospitality, attractions

                          By John McClain
                          People that look like they go about 350#s shouldn't write so much about food.

                          Comment


                          • 13 observations from #TexansCamp: Day 12

                            John Harris/Texans Analyst
                            The Texans got back to the practice field for the first time since Wednesday night’s preseason contest against the Carolina Panthers. Out of pads, the Texans didn’t strike each other throughout, but it was still a physical practice. Here are a handful of observations.

                            1. Receiver Wendall Williams has a different gear when he gets the ball in his hands. I wanted once in my life to either dunk and/or be fast for just one day. I struck out on both accounts, but Wendall has the speed category on lockdown. Late in practice, he caught a short route, turned a defensive back around and motored to the end zone. He would’ve scored but when he was touched down late in the run by linebacker Dylan Cole, the play was whistled dead.

                            2. Fullback Jay Prosch’s out and up route during one-on-ones with the linebackers and safeties may have elicited the biggest cheer of the entire day. As a former safety, I’ll admit there are times you have to guess on a route and hope you’re right or that your pass rush give you some help. With no pass rush, you better guess right. One of the linebackers did just that and guessed, but Prosch wheeled behind him for a wide open catch. The running backs went berserk running down to greet Prosch in the end zone after his easy touchdown. He opens holes for them, so they figured they’d celebrate with him after a touchdown catch.

                            3. It was bat down pass-a-palooza on Friday, which is to be expected with this crew of defensive linemen and in this situation. I’ve asked nearly all of the offensive linemen on this team and they’ve told me that on one hand being in shells is great to cut down on some of the physical stuff, but it’s awful for the batting down passes reason. I think I have written down five different names that knocked a pass down on Friday. Want to see an offensive lineman with smoke out of his ears? Give a defensive lineman some credit for knocking down a pass in shorts and jerseys, which I’m definitely not doing, just alerting people to the fact that it happened today.

                            4. Rookie Bryce Jones forced a fumble in one-on-ones with the receivers which happens infrequently.

                            5. It was good to see linebacker Benardrick McKinney back at practice, covering up running backs in the passing game like Deion Sanders. Okay, okay, so more like a 255 pound Deion Sanders. Regardless, on one play, he covered D’Onta Foreman and forced Foreman right out of his shoe. That’s not hyperbole, he literally locked up Foreman on a route and when the rookie tried to get loose, he flew right out of his shoe.

                            6. One of my observations from the preseason game the other night was Alfred Blue’s more decisive running, uh, style. Not sure what really to call it, other than to say that he appears to be demonstrative about his running decisions and not as selective, in some sense. He hit the gas and had some juice in his legs/body and I saw that again today.

                            7. The team did more situations today and Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson both drove the team down the field in late game situations for game winning field goal attempts.

                            8. Tight end Ryan Griffin had a couple of catches in the middle of the field for key first downs on those drives. On the first drive, Griffin’s catch on a throw from Tom Savage moved the Texans into field goal range before a spike stopped the clock with just two seconds left.

                            9. Later, when Deshaun Watson led his offense down the field, he hit Griffin as well, making the correct read against the Texans defense as the clock wound down. Griffin snatched it right before it hit the turf for a key first down catch.

                            10. Then, needing a few more yards to get into makeable field goal range, Watson threw a pass to the sideline for Chris Thompson. I was standing near the sideline as the ball came my way. I could tell that the throw was either going to be incomplete or a completion to Thompson; there was no way that a white shirt defender had any chance to pick it off. As such, the former Gator receiver ran right through the pass, toe tapped for the catch and, obviously, stopped the clock. It was excellent time/situation based execution by a pair of rookies.

                            11. Earlier in practice, the defense came up with consecutive sacks of Watson to end one of his drives but quarterback Brandon Weeden followed up by leading his offensive unit down for a touchdown. He hit Wendall Williams on the aforementioned crossing route that set the offense up for a touchdown opportunity.

                            12. Running back Akeem Hunt broke through for what looked like a touchdown but he was ruled down and two plays later Alfred Blue burst through for the six points.

                            13. Oh, last one, Brian Cushing really loves his alma mater USC. #Fight ON!

                            Okay, training camp is winding down and it’s hard to remember what I’ve written about and what I haven’t, so I’ll cut it there and get ready for tomorrow’s practice. Saturday’s workout will be the last one before a day off on Sunday. Then, the Patriots come to town for two practices next week. Can’t. Wait. The World Champs on our turf...well, I mean, our new home away from home.











                            --houstontexans.com



                            Head Coach BILL O’BRIEN

                            When you have a practice after a game, is that when you try to correct the mistakes you talk about?
                            “We corrected some things. We had a long film session last night and got a lot of things corrected. Today was more about coming out here and doing some of that, but also moving ahead with installation, where we are, so that’s kind of what today was about.”

                            How did ILB Benardrick McKinney and CB Treston Decoud look back at practice today?
                            “Like world-beaters. Fantastic.”

                            If you had to pick one thing that you’re looking for from your offense that you really want to see this season, what would it be? Is that too hard, to pick just one thing?
                            “More points. More points.”

                            How do you get to that?
                            “That’s between me and the players, but more points would be the goal.”

                            Do ILB Benardrick McKinney and ILB Brian Cushing mentor young linebackers like ILB Zach Cunningham?
                            “We have good leaders. Those guys do a good job of mentoring. We’ve got guys on this team that have played a long time and I think they’re very good mentors. The guys that you mentioned, but also obviously J.J. (Watt), Brian Cushing, Chris Clark on offense, those guys do a good job.”

                            What have you seen from WR Dres Anderson? How much does it help when a guy comes from a football family like he does?
                            “He does some good things. He’s coming along. I thought he did some decent things in the game, but he’s got to keep learning what we do. He does some good things.”

                            Are you getting good competition in the backfield, pushing RB Lamar Miller and some of the guys against each other, like RB D’Onta Foreman?
                            “There’s a lot competition back there. They’re divided up into different styles of play, but there’s a lot of competition back there.”

                            How do you find playing time when you have six guys at a position, like at running back?
                            “That’s easy. You just kind of rotate every couple of series or by personnel or whatever it is. It’s not too hard to find playing time for, really, everybody. I think basically everybody played in the game on Wednesday. So, it’s not too hard to do that.”

                            What do you like about what RB D’Onta Foreman did for you?
                            “(D’Onta) Foreman is a good, young back. He’s got good size. He did some good things the other night. He’s just got to keep coming. He’s got to keep improving every day. Try to get better every day.”

                            After QB Deshaun Watson played in his first game, do you see any difference in him now that he’s got that under his belt?
                            “No, I haven’t seen – I really have seen the same guy every single day since he’s been here. He’s got a great demeanor. He’s got a great way about him. I just see the same guy every day. I don’t see a different guy. I think that’s what’s one of the things that is a good, positive trait that he has.”

                            Have you seen something from QB Deshaun Watson that he’s always ready for whatever practice brings, whatever you throw at him or ask of him?
                            “That’s the way you have to be here because we put the scripts away about a week ago, so you really don’t know what you’re going to see, especially defensively. You don’t know really, maybe exactly what’s going to be called offensively. There’s a menu of plays, but like I said, we put the scripts away so you have to be ready for anything. Situationally, too.”

                            How nice is it to have guys with positional flexibility?
                            “I think you have to do that. I think everybody does that, though. You know what I mean? With their best players. I don’t think there’s any team in the league that lines up their top players at the same position on every snap. You know what I mean? I think there’s some bread and butter things that you do, but I think that you have to move guys around, otherwise – the coaching staffs are too good. The coaching staffs in this league are so good that they’re just going to pick up on any type of big-time tendency that you would have in that way.”

                            What does DE Christian Covington do well?
                            “First of all, he’s a great guy. He’s a hardworking guy. Comes every day to work. He really understands our defense. He’s one of the more improved guys over the last few years that we’ve had him. He just is a tough guy that basically brings his lunch pail to work every day.”

                            You have the New England Patriots coming in next week and you’ve done that before with other teams. How important is that and what do you look to get out of it?
                            “Any time you have a team like the Patriots coming in it’s a good thing for your team because they’re the defending World Champions. They have a good football team. We’re familiar with them, obviously. We’ve played them a few times in the past couple of years. So, it’s going to be a good test for us. They’re well-coached, good coaching staff, great coaching staff, great players. So, it’ll be a good test for our guys.”

                            Do things change much for you week-to-week? When you get through the first preseason game, do you change things you’re looking for? How does it change week-to-week?
                            “Like I was saying to the other question, number one is we don’t use really scripts anymore. We just have, basically, situational-type periods. ‘Hey, this is first-, second-, third-down, this is two minute, this is redzone, this is more third-down in this case right here.’ So, and then you just basically say to Mike Vrabel, ‘Hey, look, these are the personnel groups we’re going to be in,’ and he tells me what they’re going to do personnel-wise and then you go try to call the game. I think that’s what is fun about our practices at this point now, is it’s not just robotically scripted. So, the big thing is you’re still kind of installing plays, but most of the installation is done and now it’s really just making the players aware of each situation.”
                            RB ALFRED BLUE

                            How do you build on what you did in the preseason game?
                            Just pay attention to detail, focus on the little things and just try to get better each day. That’s what I always say.”

                            How is you relationship with RB D’Onta Foreman right now?
                            “Good. He’s a young guy coming in so he still has a lot to learn. Just coaching him up, try to lead him in the right direction, show him how to take care of his body, the right keys on offense, being more attentive to detail and stuff like that.”

                            What do you think is the biggest area the team needs to improve on offense?
                            “Consistency. Stay consistent. That’s the biggest thing. Penalties and stuff like that, mental mistakes and stuff like that, do better at that and just be consistent at what we do.”

                            Take us through your touchdown run and your philosophy in the redzone.
                            “It was just great blocking up front, made a great cut off the – Wendall (Williams) made a great block. So, from there, I saw the end zone and there was a safety in front of me. It was just the mindset of going in and not being denied.”

                            Are you still doing yoga?
                            “Yes. Pilates, yoga, you name it.”

                            Are you stronger?
                            “I would say I’m probably a little stronger. I think I’ve gotten a little stronger.”

                            More fit?
                            “More fit.”

                            How does that help?
                            “I think it’s helping a lot. I think it’s made me more explosive, it’s (helped) the range of motion in your hips and stuff (to) be able to make those cuts and stuff in the open field.”

                            Do you feel that the running backs group pushes each other?
                            “Yeah, there’s always friendly competition in the running backs room. We always joke around but when we’re out there on the field or in the game, we’re always encouraging each other to do well.”

                            OLB/DE JADEVEON CLOWNEY

                            What do you like about moving around so much?
                            “You said it. Really, we all just move around. I think we’ve got a great scheme going on, great coaching staff puts us in the right situations to make plays and moving around (to) help our defense.”

                            How much of who you are as a player is your attitude?
                            “Probably all of it. I play this game with attitude. I want to kick everybody’s – you finish that. Every day I come out here to work, go hard, try to get the best out of myself every day and when the game comes, it kind gets easy for me.”

                            You usually do all that with fun.
                            “Yeah, I have fun. That’s the only to get through, is having a good time. I don’t think it’s a job, I think it’s fun to me. I love football, so it’s all fun to me.”

                            You can flip that switch, though?
                            “Oh yeah. I get mad. I get nasty, too. I have a good time, though, with my teammates.”

                            What did you think of rookie RB D’Onta Foreman?
                            “I don’t play that side of the ball. What I’ve seen out of him, he’s a good runner. He can help the team and those guys handle that situation on that side of the ball.”

                            Coming off the season you had last year, does it feel different going into camp this year?
                            “I feel great. Last year, I was coming off an injury, really trying to get right coming off the injury. This year, I came in more confident, more healthy and that’s going to help me in the long run.”

                            Is there another level of confidence you have?
                            “Oh yeah. There’s another level of confidence. I think I have to step up for the team.”

                            Is there a different type of confidence you have coming in knowing that you’ve had success in the NFL?
                            “Oh, it’s a confidence builder, man. It really make me work harder to try to reach another level of my game, take it to another level. So this year, I’m really trying to build on last year and be a better player and help the team out more than I did the season before.

                            So we haven’t seen the best of you?
                            “I don’t think so. I think there’s a lot more in this tank. So, looking forward to the season. I come into work every day and I’m just going to keep getting better and better and have a great season this year, hopefully.”

                            What is that next step for you?
                            “Whatever, man. I just want to make more plays than I did last year. Whatever it leads to is just really, winning. Try to get to that Super Bowl like every year. I think that’s our goal, that’s a team goal. We come here to work every day and try to just get to that goal.”

                            Do you know how good you can be?
                            “I think I can be very good. It’s all about how much work I put in. I already have God-gifted talent, so the work has to take my game to another level and I see that and I’m just going to work every day.”

                            Do you still have that chip on your shoulder?
                            “Oh yeah. I keep it on my shoulder. I know where I was a couple years ago, how people talked about me, so every day I step on the field, I just take that and put it in the back of my head and grind and work through everything I got going on that day.”

                            Do you hear the things that people say about you?
                            “Oh yeah, that’s my mindset. That’s just been in the back of my head, what people said. So, every day I come out here, I’m going to get better. I don’t care what’s going on or how the weather is or how the day’s been, how my body feels, I just come here to work. When I’m on the field, just get the work in and then go about my business, play on and take care of myself.”

                            Is there anything in particular that somebody said about you that got to you the most?
                            “Probably that I’m a bust. That one kind of gave me – like all right, let’s go to work. Let’s really, really go to work, get up off this couch, a couple years back. Just to prove to those guys – really, I wasn’t really proving to them – really didn’t want to let my family and everybody down, and my teammates. They already knew what I had in me. I came in camp, had a good camp early on before I got hurt and they were like, ‘Just get back healthy. We know what you can be and everything.’ They stuck with me and (I) just worked my tail off to get back.”

                            How good can you all be with you and DE J.J. Watt healthy this year?
                            “I think we can be very good. Our defense as a whole, we got good guys, good coaches. Like I said, they put us in the right situations to make plays. We all like it I think. The sky’s the limit for this defense.”

                            How special is it to prove doubters wrong?
                            “I honestly got a lot more to do. I think I’m just starting off. That was just really my rookie year to me, last year. I was just really getting rolling in this league and I think I can be even better than I was last year.”

                            RB D’ONTA FOREMAN

                            How good of a feeling was it to jump over that guy?
                            “It was a great feeling. I did it a couple of times in high school and college, so I felt comfortable when I did it. I don’t know. It was kind of normal.”

                            Was that something you planned or was it instinctual?
                            “It was all instinct. When I ran, I kind of felt like he was going to go low so I just jumped over him. Just kind of in the game.”

                            What does it mean to go out there in your first NFL game and have the kind of game you had?
                            “It felt really good to go out there and be able to run the ball and be able to pick up my assignments, my blitz pickups and stuff like that. I think I did well. But like I said before, I went against the twos and the threes so it’s like, it’s still – I played well against the people that were out there but I still haven’t really gotten in the flow of the real NFL. I’m still looking forward, still have a lot to learn and I’m looking forward to it.”

                            What was it like when you found an opening on that 41-yard run?
                            “It felt good to be able to open up and run in front of my teammates. My teammates were messing with me, telling me how fast I looked running down the sideline. They didn’t think I moved that well. It was fun, though. I felt comfortable, I felt good and I had a good time.”

                            Even though it was the preseason, did it feel like you hit a benchmark of playing in your first NFL game?
                            “Definitely. Just being able to be out there, it’s a blessing. It’s something I always dreamed of just to play in and NFL game – any NFL game, whether it’s the preseason or real game. I’m blessed. Like I said, as a kid it’s something I always dreamed of. So, for me to be able to go out there and play well, play a decent game, I was excited.”

                            What areas do you think you still need to improve upon?
                            “I would say everything. I can never be complacent. I can always get better in every aspect of the game. I did some things well but I feel like I can pick some of my holes better (and) I feel like I can protect the ball better. Sometimes I was kind of loose with that. Other than that I feel like there’s always things I can fix.”

                            What’s the dynamic like with RB Alfred Blue? Are you guys helping each other?
                            “Definitely. I saw him go in the game. He ran the ball really well so my first thing was what can I learn from him when he comes off the field? So, I asked him like, ‘What do you see out there? What are those guys doing? How are the linebackers flowing?’ Stuff like that. He was very open with me, told me everything he saw so when I went out there – ultimately I have to go out there and find out myself, but when you get pointers like that before you go in, it’s like you already know what to look for. So, when I got in I just jumped right into it and I was able to make some plays.”

                            What is the running backs room like?
                            “It’s great. Funny guys. Lot of funny guys. But it’s great. I learn from those guys every day and they teach me a lot. Great chemistry. I talk to those guys about everything. We’re always laughing and joking. They’re great guys.”

                            Has RB Lamar Miller been able to help you and teach you some things about being a pro?
                            “Definitely. I ask him questions all the time. They laugh at me sometimes but I always tell them there’s certain things I don’t know so I have to ask. But they’re always open with me. They’re always telling me the truth. Like I said, they’re great guys.”

                            Was there one question they laughed at you for asking?
                            “It was a question I asked before the game. I forgot exactly what it was but they were just laughing at me like, ‘Are you serious?’ But I didn’t know so I just had to ask.”

                            Did it feel normal when you were out there?
                            “I felt good. That’s what I’ll say. I’ll say I felt good. Like I said, I went against the twos and the threes so like I said, I can’t really get the real feel of what a real NFL game will be like going against ones and those guys. But with the competition I had out there, I felt like I played well. Like I said, there’s things I can get better at.”

                            Do you feel like you’re a No. 1?
                            “That’s for the coaches to decide. I’m just going out there every day, working hard and trying to be the best I can be.”

                            What does that game do for your confidence?
                            “It was good to be out there. I felt good, but like I said, it’s only one game. I have to be able to come out there and do that every game, day in and day out, even at practice. Practice is a big thing. Like I said, we’re in a competition with all the running backs. We have a lot of great guys in our room so you have to bring it every day.”

                            Comment


                            • Aaron Wilson @AaronWilson_NFL
                              Bill O'Brien and offensive coaches took lap with offensive players after some mistakes late practice, said' 'Not a good day for the offense'

                              Will Fuller, who broke his collarbone, attended practice today 'good guy to have around,' Bill O'Brien said, expects him back at some point
                              Houston Texans‏ @HoustonTexans
                              McKinney on the #Patriots: "It's going to be a great challenge and it's going to be great for us to practice against those guys."

                              McKinney: "There's still a lot I need to correct, but I'm taking it day by day."

                              McKinney: "I'm a physical player. I love to hit... I like tackling running backs. I just have fun out there."

                              Benardrick McKinney on the #Texans defense: "It's easier playing with guys like that... We have a bond."

                              Brian Cushing on defense having strong day today: That's the bar we set and we have to match that every day. #Texans

                              Cushing: "Every time we get on the field, we have to put that effort in."

                              Brian Cushing on #Texans preseason: "It's always exciting to see where the team is at... There's always things to work on."

                              O'Brien on Tom Savage: "I'm proud of Tom. He is a resilient guy... He's doing some good things out here."

                              O'Brien on Brian Cushing: "Heart and soul type of guy. He's a good pro football player."

                              Bill O'Brien on #TexansCamp: "Defense came out flying. We have to pick it up offensively."
                              patrick‏ @PatDStat
                              "I am a physical player, I like to hit. Just love coming downhill trying to make plays.” Benardrick McKinney on his identity as an ILB.

                              “Not practicing really stressed me out, it didn’t feel right being in the training room. I’m back having a good time.” Benardrick McKinney

                              “We have a lot of guys with some unique skills sets, nothing is hard about that.” OB on running practice with injuries to the WR group.

                              Will Fuller returned to The Greenbrier and has started rehab on his injury. #Texans expect him back this year.

                              "It is the 12th training camp practice, it happens. We have had our days too where the defense hasn't had the best of days.” Bill O’Brien.

                              “We have had a good camp offensively but today was not one of our better days.” Bill O’Brien. #Texans

                              “Defense came out flying, we have to pick it up offensively.” Bill O’Brien on the practice today. #Texans



                              HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN

                              Can you talk about that lap you all ran?
                              “Offensively, we didn’t have a good day today, so we have to pick it back up on Monday. Defense came out flying, so we have to pick it up offensively. We’ve had a good camp. We’ve had a good camp offensively, but today wasn’t one of our better days.”

                              How much of that was because of the defense?
                              “Oh, I don’t know. I’m not looking too deep into it. It’s the twelfth training camp practice. It happens. We’ve had our days, too, where the defense hasn’t had the best of days. It is what it is, move on to the meetings this afternoon.”

                              Thoughts on WR Bruce Ellington coming to the team?
                              “He’s played a little bit. Had some injuries, but he’s played. And when he’s played, he’s been somebody that we think can fit what we do. So, we want to get him in there and get him acclimated as soon as possible (to) see what he can do.”

                              Did you feel like he was already able to do that today?
                              “He’s been in the pros, so maybe it’s a different language but all the plays are about the same. He looked like he was kind of ready to go today.”

                              Was it a day off for WR DeAndre Hopkins?
                              “Yeah, DeAndre Hopkins? Yes. I don’t call him DeAndre, I call him Hop, so that caught me off guard. Yes, day off.”

                              What does ILB Brian Cushing mean to this team and how is he helping everybody out?
                              “He’s obviously one of the leaders of the team, like I’ve said before. He’s the man in the middle on defense, makes the calls, heart-and-soul-type guy. Tough guy. Tackler, leader in the locker room, works very hard in the weight room, good guy for young guys to look up to. He’s a good pro football player.”

                              Where do you think G Xavier Su’a-Filo has made the most progress?
                              “He’s gotten better. Over the years, he’s improved. He’s a better player. He knows that he has to come out here every day and work, and he does that. He’s able to come out here and take the coaching from Mike Devlin and I think he’s trying to improve every day.”

                              What will you be evaluating from your team when the New England Patriots come to town?
                              “Just the same things that I’m evaluating now. How do we handle the different schemes? We see a lot from our defense and then opposite, how does our defense handle the different schemes? They see a lot from us, now they’ll see kind of a different scheme relative to the Patriots. Different skillsets of players. The Patriots have some different players than we do at different positions, so the matchups on both sides of the ball will be interesting to watch. I think the special teams will be good to watch. They have a really good special teams unit. Just kind of watching everything.”

                              What are you most proud of in QB Tom Savage’s development from being drafted to now?
                              “I’m proud of Tom. He’s a resilient guy. He’s really worked hard to learn our system, he’s worked hard in the weight room, he’s had to overcome injuries. He’s had to overcome a lot, and I think he’s doing some good things out here. Today, as an offense, it wasn’t our best day, but overall he’s had a good camp and it just needs to keep going. He’s a guy that comes to work every day. He’s a fun guy to coach.”

                              Did you feel like he was preparing like a starter last year even when he wasn’t?
                              “I think you have to do that. I think if you’re not preparing to be the starter, as a backup player, then when your time’s called, when you’re name’s called, you’re not going to be ready. So, he does that. He’s been doing that since even when he was on injured reserve his first year. He’s done that and he’s prepared and been in the meetings and that’s why he’s able to come out here and really have a good grasp of our offense. So, I think he’s done that his whole career here.”

                              Is it hard to get done what you need to get done with so many receivers out?
                              “No. We have a lot of backs, we have a lot of guys with some unique skillsets, so, no, nothing’s hard about that. I mean, you want your full complement of players out there, but that’s the NFL. You have to do what you do.”

                              Is it good to see WR Will Fuller V back?
                              “Yeah. He’s in rehab and (we) expect him to be back some time this season. Good guy to have around, no doubt.”

                              How’s WR Braxton Miller doing?
                              “I don’t know. I don’t know. I really don’t.”

                              How has QB Deshaun Watson been able to handle the opportunities he gets?
                              “He’s doing a good job. He comes in every day prepared, good questions, watches the tape right after practice. Seems to get better every day, get better at something every day. Got a good attitude, a good demeanor. He’s doing a really good job.”

                              Is that something you and Quarterbacks Coach Sean Ryan can see on a daily basis from him?
                              “Yeah. We see it. We’re in the meetings with him. He’s probably sick of us. All of them are. We’re together from 7:30 in the morning until 8:00 at night. We see it from all those guys that are working hard to get better.”

                              ILB BRIAN CUSHING

                              What will you be evaluating about yourself and this defense when you practice against the New England Patriots next week?
                              “Just our competitive side and trying to come out and practice as hard as we possibly can and be competitive and go out there and play good ball.”

                              How good was it for you to get out there against the Carolina Panthers?
                              “It’s always good. It’s always exciting just to see where the team’s at. Obviously we have some things to work on. That’s what preseason’s all about. We’ll go out there, we evaluated the game film and had our corrections and we executed upon it.”

                              How did you feel individually?
                              “Really good. I felt fast, I felt quick. But like I said, there’s always things to work on so I’ll continue to work every single day and try to perfect my game as best I possibly can.”

                              What impression has C Nick Martin made on you?
                              “He’s tough to go against. That’s a guy that I’m going against a bunch, especially as a center and middle linebacker. He’s a force. He’s a good player. He’s smart, he brings a lot to the game and I know he loves playing it as well. He’s fun to play with and definitely a good teammate.”

                              Do you appreciate what your defense can do up front?
                              “Of course. I think any linebacker that plays behind that defensive front, you appreciate it and the things they can do, the kind of attention they demand and the things that are slid to them, and like I said, just how much attention goes toward them. So, it makes your job a lot easier.”

                              Is it fun for you when the whole defense is clicking out there?
                              “Yeah, it’s fun. But that’s what you expect, and every single time we come on the field we have to put that effort out, we have to put that result out. We understand that’s kind of the bar we set. We have to match that every single day.”

                              What do you think of ILB Benardrick McKinney and how he has grown?
                              “Benardrick missed a little bit of time but he, obviously, when he comes back, doesn’t seem like he misses a step. He has matured tremendously since his first year in the league. His communication, everything. We’ve kind of worked side-by-side for two, three years now, and it’s been nice. It’s been really nice to have that kind of steady WILL linebacker next to you. Before, that was a bunch of guys coming in and out and trying to kind of get that comradery and that fluidity amongst the defense and amongst the linebackers, and now we have it. Now, obviously, with Zach (Cunningham) coming in as well, a very athletic linebacker that can move around a bunch – and he has matured a great amount, too, since camp has started, so it’s nice to see that from both guys.”

                              Has ILB Benardrick McKinney become more of a mentor to the young guys?
                              “Yeah, I think so. I think a lot of guys ask him questions now and expect a lot of things from him. That just comes with the years that you play. Now going into his third year, people kind of expect those things from him.”
                              ILB BENARDRICK MCKINNEY

                              How fun is it to be back?
                              “It feels great, man, just being out here to be able to practice. Not practicing was stressing me out. It didn’t feel right being in the training room. But I’m back and I’m having a good time practicing with the guys.”

                              Does it feel like you’re a more mature player now?
                              “Yeah. It’s coming easier. The game is slowing down for me. Just taking the coaching of (Mike) Vrabel and Bobby (King) doing a great job coaching me, just helping me understand the defense, helping me understand the offense so I can just fly around and just play football.”

                              Does it help you to play with such a veteran group around you?
                              “Like I said, it’s easier playing with guys like that. We’re out there having fun, talking, communicating. Me and Cush (Brian Cushing) stay on the same page. During film, we discuss the calls so we’ll know during the game (and) we can make the changes. If something comes up in the game, it’s easier to correct it because we have a bond or whatever. It’s easier playing with those guys.”

                              Do you feel like you’ve created your own identity as well?
                              “Yeah. I’m a physical player. I like to hit. I just love coming downhill, trying to make plays, trying to put the defense in a good spot on the field. I like tackling running backs so, like I said, I just have fun out there.”

                              What have you enjoyed about being at The Greenbrier besides the weather?
                              “I was just about to say the weather. Houston is really hot. I like the view, too. Sometimes I get caught daydreaming looking at the mountains or whatever. It’s a great environment, staying at a nice hotel. I can’t say too much else about it because I’m stuck on the weather part.”

                              Do you like where you’re at right now?
                              “I have a long way to go. It’s still early, preseason. There’s still a lot that I need to correct, a lot of things that I need to get better at. But I’m just taking it day by day and not trying to rush things, but just taking the coaching and just trying to get better at my craft.”

                              How will practicing against the New England Patriots next week help you prepare for the season?
                              “They’re a great offense. Tom Brady. They have some good backs, fast backs. Going to help me with covering (and) help the defense by being physical every play. Just staying together as a defense. It’s going to be a great challenge. It’s going to be great for us to practice against those guys.”
                              DE J.J. WATT

                              Can you talk to us about your brother’s (Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt) NFL debut?
                              “I mean, it’s unbelievable. It’s so much fun to watch him play. I came out of meetings, didn’t get to watch the first series – which (I) obviously missed just about everything. But I came out of my meeting and I actually had a text on my phone and the first text that I saw, it was the most crazy thing in the world. I read the text and it said, “I see your little bro out there balling. I hope all is well.’ And I looked and I was like, that was from Kendrick Lamar. I was like, wait a second, what did my little brother do? So I go on Google, I check it out and it said two sacks in four plays. So, I texted him so he could see after the game what Kendrick said and I just thought that was like the craziest thing in the world, to see one of the best rappers in the world – possibly the best rapper in the world – text me about my little brother. But it was just so cool. It was such an awesome moment to see him go out there and do what he does. I mean, he’s a great football player. I’m very excited to watch him play. He’s worked so hard, he’s overcome a lot in his career and, I mean, two sacks in four plays made me question myself because I played four plays the other day. A little disappointed.”

                              How proud were you?
                              “I was very proud. It’s a lot of fun. I get to have two brothers in the NFL and I get to watch both of them play. It’s really a dream. It’s literally a dream to have all three of us playing in the NFL. I’m so fortunate to see them succeed at such a high level. It’s awesome.”

                              Every time Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt does something, are you going to be mentioned, too?
                              “It’s cool and I see both sides of it. He’s (T.J. Watt) been dealing with it obviously forever. Both my brothers, whenever they do something, they always seem to be attached to being J.J.’s little brother. But after the other night, maybe I’m T.J.’s big brother. I don’t know. But I think they’ve finally come to terms with it. If we weren’t so close, if we weren’t so tight, it would be a problem, but we love each other so much and we appreciate and respect each other so much that I think it doesn’t really bother him. He’s going to make a name for his own and someday they’re going to drop the ‘J.J.’s little brother’ tag, but for now, you guys can feel free to keep reminding him about it.”

                              Considering who it was from and not knowing what your brother had done, is that one of the craziest texts you’ve gotten?
                              “It was definitely wild. To walk out of the team meeting and read that and then register who it was from and see what had happened, yeah, it was a pretty wild thing to see.”

                              How proud are your parents and what is it like for them?
                              “It’s awesome. It’s really cool for them. They were at the game last night. They’re going to go out to (Los Angeles) to see my other brother (Los Angeles Chargers FB Derek Watt) and then they’ll obviously be in Houston throughout the year. It’s wild. It’s wild. I’m so fortunate that they made us work so hard and they taught us how to do things the right way and how to chase your dreams. I think that’s such an important thing in parenting is for parents to teach kids that they can accomplish their dreams if they’re willing to go out there and work toward them. So, I’m very thankful. Also very thankful that my dad is tall, because that helps with it. It’s such a cool thing. I’m very fortunate and it was a lot of fun to watch.”

                              Do you think the magnet on your mom’s fridge is ever going to be bigger for you now?
                              “I don’t know. Last night when I did start watching the game, I really didn’t know how to feel because the Steelers are an AFC team. I want my brother to do well but then I’m like, wait a second here, I don’t like how this all works out. So, I literally didn’t know what to do. I wanted to tweet like congratulations on a great first game, but at the same time, I’m like, well, no. You’re on another team. Screw you. I don’t want you to do good. It’s such a weird conundrum to be in, but it’s an awesome problem to have – to have all three brothers in the AFC all competing for the title and somebody will have bragging rights at the end of the year. Hopefully it will be me.”

                              On Christmas Day?
                              “I mean, yeah. That’s a long way away and we’re very much looking forward to that, obviously, but there’s a long ways to go to get there. For now, he holds the bragging rights after one preseason game. But I’m very quick to remind him that it was a preseason game.”

                              Can you talk about being able to face the New England Patriots for a couple days?
                              “It will be a very good couple of days for our team to get some great work in. It’s obviously a very good team, an extremely successful franchise, an extremely successful coach, extremely successful quarterback, so it’s a really good chance for us to get some great work in and we’re looking forward to it. It’s always great to practice against somebody that you know can help make you better, and we’re looking forward to that practice.”

                              How do you feel being back out here with the guys practicing again?
                              “It feels awesome. It feels awesome just to be a football player again. Just to not have to worry about any other stuff, to go out there to play, to let it loose, to have fun. I really enjoy it. I love it. I love this game, I love my teammates, I love Houston, I love everybody. I love being able to represent our team, represent our city and be out here with the guys and be able to put on a show.”

                              Was a day like today good to be out there because of what the defense was doing?
                              “Today was a great day. Today was a lot of fun. Those are the types of practices that you love. When you strap on the pads and you go out there and you just let it fly. You go team period after team period after team period, you let it fly. Defense flying around having fun, everybody making plays from all different places. It’s a blast.”

                              What was it like to see the offense have to run a lap because of you guys?
                              “No comment. But that was a long lap. That was a nice, long lap and they came back tired after. They can run as many laps as they want.”

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                              • Sarah Barshop, ESPN Staff Writer
                                The Texans have their fourth and final day off of the West Virginia portion of their training camp today. There are only three more practices at The Greenbrier, and the Patriots will join them on Tuesday and Wednesday for joint practices.

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