The third OTA for the Houston Texans was held before the weekend starts and there was a new life during the practice. It was another tolerable day for the practice with a nice overcast and good breeze.
Here are some notes on OTAs from today:
- Inside linebacker Tim Dobbins was absent today for the third straight practice. There is plenty of chatter going on how he should be there at "voluntary" OTAs but one thing is for certain training camp is where it counts. Dobbins, a special teams captain, is catching heat for not being with his teammates. There is no known reason for Dobbins not being at OTAs but he is also coming off a foot injury that landed him on the injured reserve late in the 2012 season. That could be an issue, or it might not, but this is a "voluntary" camp and Dobbins not being at OTAs could be just what it is. Nothing.
- Punters are usually not great to discuss but Shane Lechler has been fun to watch at camp. The noise of the ball off of Lechler's foot sounds like a small cannon and the hang time he produces with each punt will only help the coverage team. Throw in the fact he can pinpoint the football inside the five yard-line, Lechler will be a field position weapon.
- Veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph did well in coverage against wide receivers Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. Joseph was getting on top of deep routes and making tough angles for the quarterbacks to throw to their target. He looks healthy and is moving well despite a groin that bothered him the majority of the 2012 season.
- Danieal Manning was also moving sideline to sideline with ease. If there were pads on today, he would have probably had two knockout shots on wide receivers It was good to see Manning working well with Kareem Jackson and Joseph. They look like they are reading each others' minds out there. Manning looks in great shape and is also working well with the young players and giving them advice when he can.
- This was the first time we have seen DeAndre Hopkins visibly frustrated, but it centered around him learning routes on the run. Hopkins kept working on getting his routes right and was getting help from Johnson on correct depths or routes and footwork. Hopkins even went back in line to get an extra rep to correct his mistakes from the previous turn. During team session, Hopkins caught some nice passes from Matt Schaub and even split the secondary on a deep ball that he caught in stride between two defenders.
- Rookie wide receiver Alan Bonner looked good and had some nice catches today, including one that he dove for in the middle of the field. Bonner still has work to be done but his route running in and out of break is the most impressive part of his game. He has had flashes of standing out as a wide receiver but he has had rookie lapses on the field. Despite being a 6th round pick, Bonner has a quality skill set to work with.
- Quarterback T.J. Yates threw the ball with confidence today and looked in tune with wide receiver Keshawn Martin. Yates also had an impressive deep ball that fell into the hands of Bonner. He threw the ball with accuracy after two questionable days to open up OTAs. He knows there are two quarterbacks breathing down his neck for his position, but Yates looked focused and ready for the competition heading into camp.
- The Texans' tight end group of Owen Daniels, Garrett Graham and rookie Ryan Griffin gave the quarterbacks big targets today in the passing game. Graham for the second practice in a row had soft hands and created some matchup problems for the linebackers who were covering him. Griffin has continued to impress after getting more time with Phillip Supernaw out with a foot injury. Griffin is in the cookie cutter mold of the other Texans tightends but he is still young and could easily be the biggest of the group.
- After a position change, second year player Delano Johnson looks impressive at defensive end. Originally brought in during the 2012 season, Johnson was an outside linebacker but over the offseason he has bulked up to 290 lbs. and is strong and fast from the position. His ability to work sideline to sideline with speed from the defensive end position is a sight to see. His real test is going to be when the pads come on but early indications point at him as one to watch.
- Rookie running back Cierre Wood had some nice runs today and did a good job of making people miss in the open field. He has some good speed and can separate from defender but still needs to work on his pass protection skills. Today he went to pass protect but kicked Yates' feet out from underneath him while dropping back to pass.
- Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels were practicing on the jugs machine today with shoe string catches. The machine was five yards away and neither Johnson or Daniels dropped a pass. The two veterans work constantly on their craft whenever they can.
- Dennis Johnson, rookie running back out of Arkansas, has the ability to make a difference with this team. He looks smooth when he runs and his ability to turn the corner with the football in his hands will be fun to watch when the hitting begins.