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Texans 2017 Off-season Workout Programs (OTAs, Rookie/Mandatory Minicamp)

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    In 2016 Brock Osweiler was rated last (32nd) among all QBs (>400 attempts) by ProFootballFocus and ranked 33rd/34 QBs (>200 attempts) by Football Outsiders.


    • Pat O'Hara is Watson's constant personal tutor, like he was Savage's.

      Evidence of offensive adjustments this year.

      Last edited by H2O4me; 1 week ago.
      In 2016 Brock Osweiler was rated last (32nd) among all QBs (>400 attempts) by ProFootballFocus and ranked 33rd/34 QBs (>200 attempts) by Football Outsiders.


      • 12 observations from Texans veteran minicamp

        John Harris/Texans Analyst
        Well, that’s a wrap. The Texans offseason is in the books and the next time we’ll see this group is on the grounds of the Greenbrier at 2017 Texans Training Camp. Coach Bill O’Brien noted that the team’s quality work over nine weeks warranted the opportunity to get away a day early as in prior years. Regardless, today’s workout was a little, uh, different as well.

        Why? Here are my observations from the last offseason practice of 2017.
        1. When we walked out to practice, it looked like a midseason, midweek workout. There were about 55 to 60 guys out there maximum as the big fellas were rewarded with a little extra time off and by time off, I mean, a session in the weight room. It’s been noted how offseason workouts are passing camp workouts, so the coaching staff excused the offensive and defensive linemen...and got some passing game work done.

        2. I love to see competition in individual drills and there was a lot of that during practice. The defensive backs did a drill that I’d never seen before and it was one of the best drills I’ve ever seen. They aligned next to one another and then were required to break one way or the other, based on the coaches decision. The player to that side was then the receiver and the player on the opposite side was the defender. It forced the defenders to truly have to burst to, and through, the receiver. I wish I’d had known that drill a long time ago.

        3. The linebackers worked on a hoop pass rush drill against one another as well. The hoop drill is a simulation that helps the players in bending the edge and getting to the quarterback. This time, though, they set up two different hoops and raced to the finish. In both the defensive backs and the linebackers situations, it was fascinating to see the competitive nature of both groups come to the forefront.

        4. Safety
        Kurtis Drummond has had a solid offseason and if he can stay healthy, he’s going to be a player to watch during training camp. He’s always had the football IQ to understand this defense, but he’s making more plays and that appears to have given him confidence along the way too. He truly took advantage of these nine weeks in the offseason as he seeks the opportunity to significantly contribute to the defense in 2017.

        5. Quarterbacks didn’t have quite the day that they had on Tuesday but, again, the ball didn’t hit the ground much at all. And, they were brilliant on Tuesday, to say the least.

        6. During 7-on-7 (which was the entire day, really)
        Tom Savage’s best throw of the day was a laser to DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans pass catcher beat man coverage and Savage drove one right into his hands. It was a 98 mph fastball.

        7. Later in the same period, Savage made a tremendous throw to rookie tight end
        Zach Conque on a deep out route but the cover linebacker held on the play and kept Conque from being able to make the catch.

        Brandon Weeden laid a beautiful deep ball down the field to rookie Chris Thompson. I mean it was a majestic parabola down the field, but defensive back Robert Nelson came up with an impressive recovery and break up. Thompson has some serious jets, like most of the receivers on this roster but the recovery speed shown by Nelson was impressive.

        Deshaun Watson showed his moxie, in my opinion, today. He got picked off on his second to last play in the period. However, on the very next play, the last one in that period, Watson made a tremendous throw on an curl or dig route to Dres Anderson. It might have been the best throw he made all offseason. He drove the ball off his backfoot, delivered with some serious RPMs and hit Anderson who found an open hole in the defense.

        10. I didn’t mention the defense much yesterday but today, that group was excellent. They had a couple of coverage sacks along the way, which is about the best a defense can do during 7-on-7.

        11. Linebacker
        Brian Peters had the lone interception in the past two days as he read Watson’s eyes on an inside route. The defense went nuts as Peters snatched the errant pass and headed for a pick six.

        12. Tight end
        Stephen Anderson had more catches than I wanted to even count in my notes. He got some kudos after his final catch of the day from the coaching staff. He was held by safety Corey Moore at the top of the route, but Anderson worked through it to get his hands free and snatched the reception on the throw from Brandon Weeden.
        These are a little short as the team was on the field for less than an hour, but there will be plenty for you in about six weeks, as we head to the Greenbrier for training camp. In the words of the infamous Bart Scott “CAN’T WAIT!!” See ya then.
        In 2016 Brock Osweiler was rated last (32nd) among all QBs (>400 attempts) by ProFootballFocus and ranked 33rd/34 QBs (>200 attempts) by Football Outsiders.


        • Photo: Brett Coomer

          Springing forward: Texans optimistic after offseason, but questions linger

          T he Texans' 2½-month offseason program ended Wednesday with the last day of minicamp, and the team made significant progress in a lot of areas working under the restrictions of a collective bargaining agreement that doesn't allow contact until training camp.

          Coach Bill O'Brien was so excited with his team's progress that he cancelled the last day of the minicamp - the only part of the program that was mandatory.

          The next time the players do anything of note will be in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., where they'll begin training camp July 25 at The Greenbrier.

          "We had a very, very good, productive offseason," O'Brien said. "It's a very competitive roster.

          "I think the guys (got) tired of each other a little, going against each other the way we compete. But a lot of good things have come out of it, and we're looking forward to training camp."

          The Texans have undergone a lot of changes since losing at New England in the divisional round of the playoffs. When they entered the offseason program that included practice on a limited basis, the rookie minicamp, OTAs and the minicamp, the Texans had to show improvement in several particular areas.

          We learned a lot about the Texans in the offseason program. The biggest questions on the team - quarterback and the offensive line - were the same entering and leaving the offseason program.

          Getting rid of former starting quarterback Brock Osweiler, promoting Tom Savage and drafting Deshaun Watson were moves designed to upgrade a position that's been plagued by ineptness and inconsistency since O'Brien arrived in 2014.

          For the first time since his first season, O'Brien has taken over the play calling on a full-time basis. He made changes on his staff, including hiring Wes Welker as an offensive assistant and bringing back Bobby King to coach linebackers.

          Success or failure at quarterback depends heavily on the performance of an offensive line that was missing its best player.

          Left tackle Duane Brown missed the offseason program because of financial reasons. Brown was subject to fines of $80,400 for missing the mandatory minicamp. If he misses training camp, his fines will pile up.

          Items of interest

          Other things watched closely in the offseason program were players replacing cornerback A.J. Bouye, safety Quintin Demps and outside linebacker John Simon; the impact new defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel has made since being promoted and what they're doing to improve special teams.

          As it is during every offseason program, some players emerged to the coaches' delight. Now, they're expected to continue their progress in training camp and preseason that include joint practices against New England and at New Orleans.

          "I think we're all excited about this team," O'Brien said. "We're all excited about the way this team is shaping up relative to OTAs and minicamp, what we can be.

          "In all three phases, we're just trying to play fast, so I think that takes simplifying, less thinking, get out there, play at a good tempo, make sure everybody's on the same page (with) great communication. Let's not make it too complicated for the players."

          All about QBs

          No matter what happens on either side of the ball in O'Brien's fourth season, nothing will get more attention than the performance of the quarterbacks.

          Savage, Watson and veteran Brandon Weeden worked hard and made a positive impression on the coaches.

          "Tom is the No. 1 quarterback, but he's got to earn it every day," O'Brien said. "Weeden and Deshaun have made Tom better and vice versa.

          "I think the quarterback play this spring was very, very good with all of the things that were thrown at us. It's been good relative to the stages of their careers that they're in - with Brandon being the oldest and Tom being in his fourth year.

          "Deshaun's been very impressive relative to being a rookie, so it's a competitive position."

          Savage is No. 1 entering camp for the first time. Because they traded up 12 spots in the first round to get Watson, they have high expectations for him.

          Savage and Weeden know O'Brien's system. Watson has showed he's a quick learner.

          "They've all, in their own right – relative to their experience in our system - commanded the offense well," O'Brien said. "They've had their share of mistakes. They see a lot from our defense. I think knowledge of defense for every one of them is going to be very important, and then communication with their teammates is going to be big.

          "These guys are working hard at it. They take a lot of mental reps. One of the things that I preach with these guys is that when they're not in there, let's make sure we're taking a mental rep. What would I do on this play, pre-snap and post-snap, and I think they're all doing a good job of that."

          Competition up front

          Brown's financial dispute allowed third-year offensive tackle Kendall Lamm to get a lot of repetitions at left tackle. Rookie Julién Davenport, the fourth-round pick, got valuable reps at right tackle.

          Center Nick Martin, last year's second-round pick who spent his rookie season on injured reserve, returned and, along with Greg Mancz, played center and guard.

          Perhaps the most improved offensive lineman was guard Chad Slade, who spent last season on the practice squad.

          Guards Jeff Allen and Xavier Su'a-Filo had impressive camps, according to the coaches.

          "Ideally, when you're building an offensive line, you always want to keep churning the back end, and that way, it creates competition and depth," offensive line coach Mike Devin said. "And, hopefully, the cream rises to the top, and you're always getting better and better.

          "Since I've been here, this is the first year (where) we have all this depth and competition and all these little battles that no one's seeing that's going to make us better overall. They see it, and they work for it. That's exciting to me."

          Vrabel takes over

          On the other side of the ball, Vrabel is putting his stamp on a defense that finished first under Romeo Crennel last season.

          "I think he's ready," said Crennel, who was promoted to assistant head coach. "He's organized, and he's a hard worker. He's smart, too. Only time will tell, but I think he'll do very well."

          The players know Vrabel well, of course, after watching him coach linebackers for three seasons. He won't show what he's going to do until the regular season begins, but he will have his ideas about the defense and what he wants to accomplish.

          "I love it," Vrabel said about running the defense. "I love being able to stand up in front of the defense and talk to the linebackers, obviously, but also the secondary (and) defensive line and trying to tie all those groups together.

          "I think the one thing RAC (Crennel) allowed us to do was coach. He allowed us to coach our positions and take care of our guys and make sure they knew everything they needed to know for practice and games.

          "I have to remember to try to give those assistant coaches enough time to get their guys ready for the game and not sit there and overtake the meeting and keep them in there for too long."

          As far what he wants to see from his defense, Vrabel added, "We talk about trying to enhance the things that we do well and then continue, and then try to fix the things that we didn't do well.

          "We didn't do a very good job of getting turnovers last year, so we've tried to make it a point to fix it and improve on it and make it better in the offseason. We'll see where that goes.

          "We have to do better in scoring defense. We have to continue to play well on third down, continue to stop the run like we did late in the season. If we can continue to get three-and-outs like we did last year and give our offense a chance to get the ball back, we can help us win games."

          Seeking something special

          The Texans spend a lot of time practicing returning and covering kickoffs and punts, but they were mediocre again last season, Larry Izzo's first as special teams coordinator.

          When Izzo was asked what he wants to improve, he said, "Just more consistent play across the board.

          "You've got to win the field position battle every week. There were times last year (with) coverage breakdowns. You can never give up points, and we gave up points.

          "We turned the ball over, so there's a lot of things to improve on. The offseason (made) the points of emphasis on what kind of unit we want to have. I feel good about the guys that we have, and it's a matter of executing on a more consistent level and a better level than last year."

          In other words, the Texans still have a lot of improving to do, despite the coaches' positive reaction to their performance in the offseason program.

          John McClain
          NFL Writer, Houston Chronicle
          In 2016 Brock Osweiler was rated last (32nd) among all QBs (>400 attempts) by ProFootballFocus and ranked 33rd/34 QBs (>200 attempts) by Football Outsiders.


          • Spring Round Up: 11 Things We Learned About the Houston Texans

            Patrick Starr
            With rookie mini-camp, OTAs, and mandatory mini-camp in the books and the team now preparing for training camp in West Virginia, there is plenty to chew on regarding the work the Houston Texans put in this spring. There are so many angles to look at with this team but we pared it down to eleven things we learned over this stretch of preparation. Here is what we learned about the Texans heading toward training camp.

            The Tom Savage Show

            The reality of the situation is that the Texans have invested a lot in Tom Savage: they drafted him, put many hours into his development, and he is the one guy who has made it through the numerous personnel shifts in the quarterback room. For the first time in his career with the Texans, Savage is getting an extended look with the first team offense, something that he has not received in the past. Savage is working not only on his game, but is learning how to take responsibility and ownership of the offense. If anything, he has grown since the start of OTAs, evident especially given how he carries himself in the huddle and makes minor adjustments on the field with personnel and formations. He is clearly ahead of the curve skill wise when compared to the other two quarterbacks but his biggest jump has been him setting up the offense to succeed play-to-play.

            J.J. Watt's Health

            J.J. Watt's back will be in question until training camp arrives and he start dealing with contact. The biggest issue with Watt's back last season was how slow his feet where off the snap. It is hard to tell if that quickness will be regained but when he is able to cut loose in West Virginia, there will be a better feel for his health. He took veteran day's off during this stretch and when he was on the field looked like he was supposed to in drills and pass rush.

            Youth at Wide Receiver

            The Texans are in the same...

            Some interesting stuff in there.
            In 2016 Brock Osweiler was rated last (32nd) among all QBs (>400 attempts) by ProFootballFocus and ranked 33rd/34 QBs (>200 attempts) by Football Outsiders.


            • Reporters' Notebook: Texans' QB race, minicamp stars and more

              In the wake of minicamps, NFL Media's network of reporters gets you up to speed with the hottest news and notes from across the league,
              HOUSTON -- It's a humid Houston afternoon and Tom Savage is positioned in the shotgun. Standing a few feet behind his right shoulder is Texans head coach Bill O'Brien. The offensive and defensive lines are not even in attendance for the final day of mandatory minicamp. The focus today is apparently on the passing game for the shortened final practice outside of NRG Stadium. The Texans are currently in a 7-on-7 period. Right before the snap, both O'Brien and Savage simultaneously notice tight end RaShaun Allen is not lined up correctly. O'Brien's whistle blows and he's visually upset -- as is the fourth-year quarterback, who is shaking his head in disgust. Allen is replaced with Evan Baylis and the ball is snapped.

              "He's been here since he got drafted," wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins told me of Savage, a fourth-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. "He knows this offense better than anybody in that locker room. He knows where to put the ball at, he knows where the defender is going to be. He's a student of the game."

              Savage has spent more time in O'Brien's system than any quarterback at any level. It's also the longest Savage has spent in any system at any level. And oddly enough, one of the most crucial years in Savage's preparation for the opportunity to be the starting quarterback in Houston came in 2015 -- when Savage spent the season on injured reserve after hurting his shoulder in the preseason finale against the Cowboys. Savage and offensive assistant coach Pat O'Hara spent an enormous amount of time not just on Xs and Os, but creating a game plan for the time when Savage would get his shot at QB1.

              And now, that time has come.

              "Tom's No. 1," O'Brien said this week, in between minicamp practices. "He knows, like I said from Day 1, he's got to earn it every day. That's the type of roster that we have."

              Indeed. With the 12th pick of April's draft, the Texans selected Clemson QB Deshaun Watson. In fact, Houston traded up from the No. 25 slot to nab the former All-American. The selection not only marked the first time Rick Smith had ever spent a first-round pick on a quarterback during his 12 years as Texans GM -- but it was the first time Smith had ever snagged a signal caller within the first three rounds of a draft.

              Smith had experienced Watson's poise first-hand from the stands during the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship, when the Clemson star calmly came from behind, slayed mighty Alabama and earned Offensive MVP honors. Since joining the Texans, Watson has continued to impress virtually everyone in the organization -- on and off the field -- with a tireless work ethic instilled in him from his mother.

              "He's come a long way," O'Brien said after the team's first day of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. "He's in here all the time. There is no questioning this kid's work ethic. He's in here on the weekends. I wasn't even here this past weekend; my kid was in here. I don't know how that happened, but he was in there -- I think with Fitzy's (Craig Fitzgerald) kids -- and saw Deshaun in there. 'Hey dad, Deshaun was in there.' "

              Different aspects of Watson -- as a person and a player -- stand out to each of the Texans coaches who work closest with the rookie on a daily basis. One will tell you he's even more talented physically than they originally anticipated; another will compliment his professionalism; and yet another will wax poetic about his ability to learn and retain information.

              "I want to be mentally sharp when I step on the field," Watson told reporters after a practice inside the Texans indoor facility. "I want to be able to operate the offense and be able to come out here and execute at a high level. I have to put the time in, pay my dues, so when I come out here, I'm ready and I can show what I have."

              These are the two quarterbacks vying to lead a playoff team to new heights. Their paths to the NFL were vastly different. Savage attended three different universities and, while working construction between transfers, thought at one point his football career was over. Watson went 32-3 as a starter and was a two-time Heisman finalist. Savage, who is entering the final year of his contract, has yet to throw a touchdown in the NFL on 92 career passes. Watson had the fifth-highest-selling NFL jersey in the country last month.

              But O'Brien has long been open about his cautious stance when it comes to rookie quarterbacks starting right away in the NFL, and Savage is considered the starter heading into training camp. Last year, the Texans shelled out a bunch of dough to snatch up Brock Osweiler in free agency to be the quarterback savior. It didn't go as planned. Perhaps last season was when Savage's teammates started to really see his knowledge of the offense, even if he was displaying it from the sideline while watching Osweiler.

              "I like his leadership," Hopkins said. "From last year, when he wasn't playing on the field, he was still showing the guys, telling us what we should do, helping us out like he was the starting quarterback. Now that he's in that role, it's not surprising to anybody on this field that he deserves that role. He has earned it, not just from playing, but from the chemistry he has built in the locker room with everybody."

              In 15 regular-season games last year, Osweiler threw 16 interceptions -- and three more in a playoff loss against the Patriots. That was Osweiler's final game in a Texans uniform, as Houston traded him to Cleveland -- along with a second-round pick -- in a salary dump.

              Obviously, Savage's focus is on limiting turnovers in 2017.

              "Overall in the offseason, we did a good job of protecting the ball here," Savage said after the conclusion of mandatory camp. "That's going to be a key going into the season."

              Houston had the league's No. 1 defense in 2016 -- and with the return of J.J. Watt, the unit could be even more dominant this season. A number of veterans on that side of the ball consistently went against Savage back when he ran the scout team three years ago. Those in the secondary have seen Savage's development.

              "He's progressed in that aspect of his game," veteran cornerback Kareem Jackson told me of Savage's knowledge of the system and ability to quickly go through his reads. "Being with coach O'Brien on a daily basis in the film room, it's almost like (snapping his fingers quickly) -- things are coming to him so naturally. And he definitely has a big arm, as well. He can make every throw on the field. It's been kind of cool to go against him and see him progress each and every year."

              The progress the public will be focused on during training camp is most likely Watson's. The franchise quarterback of the future. But perhaps the focus should be on the progress of Savage. His success or failure will determine the Texans' immediate future, Watson's developmental path and possibly the future of Bill O'Brien in Houston.

              » Houston's Swiss Army Knife in the secondary. Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson prides himself on the ability to play all over the field. Three years ago, when Romeo Crennel became Houston's defensive coordinator, he moved the former first-round pick into the slot repeatedly during passing situations.

              "You never know where I might be," Jackson told me on Tuesday. "To me, it's just all about what can I do to help the team. Regardless of who we are playing, just whatever they need from me, I'm willing to do it."

              Now O'Brien has promoted Mike Vrabel to defensive coordinator. And the first-year DC apparently has Jackson -- now in his eight season -- lining up more than just outside and inside.

              "The more you can do, the better," Jackson told me. "For me, it's all about helping the team. If I got to play outside the whole game, or if I'm in the slot, safety, whatever. I'm all for it, just because I'm capable of doing it and I definitely don't have a problem with it."

              I asked Jackson if he believes he will at some point line up at safety this season.

              "Not sure, we'll see how the year plays out," he said grinning. "Not sure, it's always in the deck."

              -- James Palmer
              In 2016 Brock Osweiler was rated last (32nd) among all QBs (>400 attempts) by ProFootballFocus and ranked 33rd/34 QBs (>200 attempts) by Football Outsiders.