The Houston Texans, all 89 of them, came together for their first OTA session of the 2013 season. This is the first of 10 practices but it is a good sight to finally see more Texans football being put out on display.
There are some new faces at Reliant and some that were missing, but still a new outlook for the 2013 season is at hand. Here are some early thoughts on the opening of OTAs.
- Ed Reed was in Colorado finishing some rehab on his hip and is expected to fly back in the middle of the week to join his teammates in Houston. Brian Cushing, Derek Newton, DeVier Posey, Brennan Williams and Tim Jamison watched practice from the sideline but all are working to get ready for training camp.
- Darryl Sharpton had question marks surrounding him on his availability for OTAs but that was put to rest with him being a full participant in practice. He moved well in drills and in team sessions and took control of the huddle on defense. It was surprising to see Sharpton ready to go after all of the speculation that he has not been cleared by his doctors.
- Andre Johnson helped coach up his new teammate in DeAndre Hopkins and teach him some small things about the position. Johnson was showing Hopkins moves to get off the line of scrimmage and talking routes in between repetitions. This was a good sign. Also, with Lestar Jean, Keshawn Martin and rookie Alan Bonner, this is one of the more talented wide receiver groups in Texans' history.
- There was noticeable size difference from the 2012 season to this year in Arian Foster,Duane Brown, Brooks Reed,Whitney Mercilus and Brandon Brooks. Think of it as more of a leaner (good in football terms) muscled players on the field.Brown told us after practice he was 7 pounds lighter than last season, but he feels he is just as strong. Mercilus is not heavier weight wise but has spent some good time in the weight room which is apparent when he took the field.
- There were also some Texans players who put on some football weight and look much heavier, Jared Crick andDelano Johnson. During his rookie season, Crick was 287 lbs., this year he is at 295 lbs. He looks much more equipped to play the interior and hold up during run plays. Johnson went from 280 lbs. in 2012 to 290 lbs.
- Roc Carmichael had a great opening day and was all over the field for the secondary. He broke up a couple of passes in tight coverage and played fast and on a mission. Carmichael has all of the physical tools to make a significant contribution to the team and this was a good start to his 2013 campaign.
- One player to watch moving forward is quarterback Stephen McGee. He has some starter experience and enough skills to push for the back up position in Houston. He looked confident and threw the ball with some zip on the field, and looked the most consistent in the passing game not named Matt Schaub. It's early, but one to keep an eye on.
- The addition of fullback Greg Jones is probably the most underrated signing of the off-season for the Texans. He is a big blocker in front of Foster at 6-1, 268 lbs. and gives the offense that missing link in the running game. He is athletic enough to contribute in the passing game but having a lead blocker again should put a charge in the running game. He looked comfortable in the offense but without pads we only get half the story. When the pads get put on, his real value will come to the front for the Texans.
- New punter Shane Lechler looked good in his punting session today. He was consistently putting the football inside the 5 yard line from the other side of the 50 yard line. Lechler is one of the best in league history and he gave a quick glimpse of that today.
- Drafted rookie outside linebacker Trevardo Williams impressed on his first day of OTAs. He showed his ability to drop in space and today tipped a pass for a Brandon Harris interception. Williams looks like he can play the Sam or Will position for the Texans, and looks like he could be a good late pick for the Texans.
- Sam Montgomery looked much better than this mini-camp debut a couple of weeks ago. He looked strong and more in tune with what the coaches were asking him to do. He showed his ability to dissect plays and had two quarterback sacks, if this was game speed. Montgomery has taken some big steps as an outside linebacker in less than two weeks. It should be fun to watch to see where he ends up by the end of training camp.
- Rookie A.J. Bouye once again impressed in team drills when he came up with an interception on the sideline. Bouye has been doing well since rookie mini camp and keeps making plays to stand out, and today was another example.
- Nose tackle Terrell McClain looked fast today and played like a man fighting for a roster spot. The former 2011 third round draft pick of the Carolina Panthers had some flashes on the field today. Even though pads were not involved, he played low and made some hustle plays down the line of scrimmage. It was said that the Panthers gave up on McClain too early. The Texans might have found a rejuvenated player in the rough.