HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) -- The Houston Texans conducted their ninth practice of this training camp on Tuesday afternoon, and for just the second time, they were NOT in pads.
Shells (helmets, jerseys, shorts) were the outfit choice of the day, but unlike the last practice in shells last Friday, this one was for more competitive and executed at game speed. (The practice in shells last Friday was largely mental work, and walk throughs.)
So with that, here are a handful of observations on Tuesday's session, the final one before the scrimmage inside NRG Stadium on Thursday night (Laura permitting):
1. We've talked a lot throughout camp about Bill O'Brien's shedding play calling duties, and what that might free him up to do as more of a CEO type head coach. Well, merely from an observational standpoint, it allowed O'Brien on Tuesday to make the rounds to various position groups.
He spent the first part of the practice with special teams, cheering on various onside kick recoveries, and spent time in the huddle of the offense and the defense during walk through sessions, even lining up as an offensive lineman in a walk through for the front seven of the defense. It was pretty funny.
2. One of the big winners at Tuesday's practice was second-year tight end Kahale Warring. We've been waiting for flashes of the athletic ability that made him a third-round pick in 2019, and we got them Tuesday.
Both big plays came in 11-on-11 drills. First, Warring caught a touchdown from Deshaun Watson in the back corner of the end zone, high pointing the ball over Vernon Hargreaves. And then, in the final play of the practice, Warring caught a deep ball behind safety Jonathan Owens.
3. Keke Coutee was held out of practice again. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reported Coutee is dealing with a stress fracture in his foot.
So it was time for DeAndre Carter to go to work and separate himself from Coutee in the battle for the return specialist/backup slot WR spot.
Carter had a good day, accounting for three catches, including a touchdown on a short out pass inside the five-yard line against rookie CB John Reid, on a successful drive in 11-on-11.
4. Speaking of John Reid, rough day for the rookie.
First, he got beat by Carter for a touchdown. And then later in the practice, Will Fuller, on a similar route to Carter's, beat Reid fairly easily for a score.
It was good to see Fuller getting his first 11-on-11 work of training camp, thus far.
5. I think my new favorite Texan (not named Watson) is special teamer/cornerback Keion Crossen, whose mouth is CONSTANTLY working, whether it’s in individual drills or 11-on-11 team work.
The dude does not shut up, and he is a MAD trash talker. I felt awful for wide receiver Chad Hansen during 11-on-11 drills, when he drew Crossen as the CB across from him, and Crossen just kept screaming "YOU CAN'T GET OPEN" repeatedly to him -- during the play, after the play, before the next play.
Crossen, who arrived here via trade in 2019, got here four seasons too late, as he would have been a star when the Texans were on "Hard Knocks" back in 2015.
6. Another question mark on this team that had a decent day was safety Eric Murray, who intercepted a Deshaun Watson pass after it was tipped by cornerback Bradley Roby, who also has had his two best days of practice this week.
7. Over the last few practices, O'Brien has been doing a ton of mixing and matching along the offensive line, with several different combinations, including starting left guard Max Scharping getting some snaps in at center on Monday.
O'Brien does this every year to foster versatility, but in a season where the coronavirus could rip through your locker room on a moment's notice, having guys ready to play multiple positions is even more crucial.
Final report from Texans camp from me will be Thursday night after the scrimmage -- again, weather permitting.
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