The Houston Texans cranked up OTA #5 which is the halfway point for this team session. It was once again a breezy day with a nice overcast and the story of the day was the status of Arian Foster. Besides that key news, there was other business to tend to for the Texans in their practice session.
After a sluggish Tuesday practice, the entire group of Texans picked it up and some of the younger players had more snaps than usual.
- Head Coach Gary Kubiak let the media know that Arian Foster was going to be shut down with what he called a "pretty good calf strain". Foster stayed inside the facility where he was on crutches and will be for the next few days. Kubiak also said Foster should be ready for the opening of training camp with no lingering effects of the injury.
- The Texans had healthy watchers of OTAs in Andre Johnson, Johnathan Joseph, Greg Jones, Owen Daniels, Wade Smith, Duane Brown and Antonio Smith. All were in the middle of their position group drills and being attentive throughout practice.
- Injured Texans players were Sunny Harris, Phillips Supernaw and Brennan Williams. Harris was out of his boot and walked around slowly from drill to drill. Derek Newton, Tim Jamison and Brian Cushing were all working on the side field with team trainers.
- Brandon Harris returned to practice for the Texans and looked just as good after suffering a head injury last week when he collided with receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Harris once again showed some good ball skills and broke up some passes. He has been really active on defense, especially in team drills.
- Cornerback Brice McCain also returned to full speed. He was being held out of team drills to make sure he was comfortable with his broken foot that landed him on the injured reserve last season. McCain has been participating in individual drills and looked like he was getting his feet back under him in team drills. McCain showed he still has top end speed and is still one of the fastest players for the team on the field.
- We can't go into particulars but the Texans' special teams look like they are going to be much improved compared to last season. The addition of Shane Lechler and a healthy Randy Bullock should help out the Texans' kicking and field position game. Also, there is a concentrated effort to get better on the back-end of the roster and find guys that can consistently contribute on special teams. It is a work in progress but initial signs have looked good from OTAs.
- Enough has not been said about the practices that Garrett Graham has put together. Graham has been running solid routes and the offense does not skip a beat with him with the first group. He looks like the tight end that the Texans want for the future and looks to be a key piece of the offense this season. He has really come into his own and has worked well with quarterback Matt Schaub.
- Rookie cornerback A.J. Bouye just makes plays in the secondary. He has batted down more passes than anyone in the secondary and always seems like he is in the right spot to make plays. He, like all of the rookies, struggled on Tuesday with new material but responded well today.
- Wide Receiver Alan Bonner is one of the more intriguing rookies out there for the Texans. Bonner dropped some easy passes where he was wide open but then showed some serious skills when he ran by a cornerback and caught a deep ball for a touchdown. Bonner has the ability to stretch the field and shows a skill set that made him a draftable player. He has a great get off from the line of scrimmage and can get in and out of breaks with ease. He is still rough around the edges but if Coach Kirksey can refine his skills, he can be a good one.
- The outside linebackers had some tough times in coverage today. Bryan Braman dropped an interception that hit him right in the hands on an errant pass from T.J. Yates. Rookie Trevardo Williams had his hands full trying to cover tight ends in space, and they gave him some things to work on. No outside linebacker was given an easy task today with the offense testing them in the middle of the field.
- Ryan Griffin also falls into what makes him a rookie with his hot and cold moments on the field. He might be wrong on a depth of a route or drop a pass, but then he comes back and makes an impressive tight rope sideline catch. Griffin has been trying to work on his consistency during the OTA session and he is learning he can compete with these players. His shining moment was when he and D.J. Swearinger were going one on one in the team portion of practice and Griffin worked Swearinger with ease in the open field. His sheer size (6-6, 256 lbs.) and movement skills are impressive and he is bigger than any TE on the roster.
- Rookie safety D.J. Swearinger has been quiet during OTAs, but this has been due mostly to learning from the veterans and just playing football. After an interception yesterday, Swearinger was finally put to the test trying to cover players out of the slot. He had some success but there is still work to do. Swearinger really looked good playing as a free safety and excelled at getting on top of routes on deep threats. There has been talk of Swearinger being the underneath player for the Texans, taking the place of the departed Glover Quin, but he has the ability to play free safety with ease.
- Linebacker Brooks Reed had an interesting day. He works at inside linebacker and looks solid in drills, but he struggled some during team action. He covered running backs out of the back field but struggled with run fits. Reed is getting much needed work on the inside, but when Brian Cushing returns it looks like a return to the outside could be the best move for the team and Reed.