The Houston Texans opened their 2013 season today with their first official practice of training camp. Plenty of new faces were on the field and the familiar faces fell right into place after the first horn sounded.
The atmosphere was business like and there was a new focus on the field compared to last season.
- Ed Reed worked on the side field for over an hour and there was no signs of a limp. He did not stop working from the start of practice with trainers until the halfway point of the practice session. Andre Johnson might be right when he said Reed will be ready for week one in San Diego because the way he looked today was a positive sign for fans who have been left in the dark.
- Arian Foster also worked on the side field and was pushing full steam when running, with trainers looking on. He even did some work in the sand pit and looked ready to go after a calf injury sidelined him for the majority of OTAs. Foster's return is just around the corner to the team and there should be no more reason to worry.
- It is hard not to see why DeAndre Hopkins gives a new look to the offense. The addition of Hopkins gives the offense a much needed boost of youth in the skill positions. When lining up today, the offense had a different feel than previous years, and seeing Johnson and Hopkins running routes together during plays will be a sight to see when the games start.
- Right tackle Derek Newton looked well recovered from his offseason patellar knee surgery. He was moving well to the second level and looked much more confident with his assignments. He moved with a purpose and looked in tune with right guard Brandon Brooks. The Texans' right side of the line has some good size and, if they can get their game right, it could easily become a strength of the team.
- Rookie wide receiver Alec Lemon had a big day today with two eye-opening catches in drills. Lemon, who is out of Syracuse, looked like a different player than what we saw in OTAs and made a good impression on day one of training camp. Lemon's best catch of the day came on a deep route where he went high over the defender to haul in a pass.
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- Second year wide receiver Keshawn Martin stole the show on offense today with him catching anything near him. He even went vertical and caught a nice deep ball from the arm of Matt Schaub for a big gain. Martin has built on a strong OTAs where he looked like a new player, and today was not much different. He caught the football deep, in the middle of the field and on the sideline, and showed his full arsenal on what he can do with the football.
- Rookie Sam Montgomery was present today and looked in great shape despite reports. In team drills, he was accidentally rolled up on by a teammate that caused him to come out with an ankle injury. Only sitting out a few plays, Montgomery came back and finished the practice and did not stop working. He showed what made him successful at OTAs, that non stop motor on the field.
- The quarterback group came out and had a good day throwing the football. They hit their receivers in stride and not many footballs hit the ground. Starting quarterback Matt Schaub looked in mid-season form with Andre Johnson and was getting accustomed with Hopkins.
- Rookie safety D.J. Swearinger looked good today and caused the only turnover of the day when he caused a fumble and recovered it himself. He looks like he is coming into his own and is a student of the game. Swearinger understands the game well and can play in the box or outside of it. A positive start for the rookie out of South Carolina was a good sight for this safety position.
- The return of Brian Cushing was a great sight to see for the Texans' defense. Cushing worked in all of the individual drills but sat out of the team and 7 on 7 drills for precautionary reasons. He moved well in drills and looks ready to go for the upcoming season.
- Rookie tackle Brennan Williams also made his return from knee surgery and he too looked good at the opening of camp. Williams is a big right tackle but is athletic and can move. He still has to learn the offense and get used to the particulars of the position, but he is another rookie to watch heading into the season.