The Houston Texans went their first day of shells today and contact for the 2013 season. There was plenty of extra excitement among the players leading into the first contact of the season.
- Antonio Smith stole the show on the early part of the practice session when he stopped three running plays in a row. The first two plays were made in the backfield and the last one was made with a hard hit on rookie running back Dennis Johnson. That ignited some pushing and shoving between the offensive and defensive lines and some choice words. Smith looked good and was too much for the offensive line to handle early in the day.
- Rookie wide receiver Andy Cruse keeps impressing when today he went one on one with starter Kareem Jackson and made a great catch using his big frame to hold off tight coverage from Jackson. Jackson has been on top of his game and he has displayed even better understanding of what he is being asked to do for the defense. He is testing DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson when he matches up with them in coverage.
- The Catch of the Day belonged to rookie Alan Bonner in one on one drills when he was on a 9 route and beat his defender. While the ball was in the air, he jumped to get the ball and made a one-handed catch with his right hand because the ball was thrown behind him. Bonner continues to make highlight reel catches and impressing people along the way.
- Rookie cornerback A.J. Bouye keeps improving with every practice and today he capped off an impressive day with two interceptions. Both came in one on one drills, but the coverage was outstanding. Bouye understands how to get on top of routes and his technique continues to get better each time he gets on the field.
- Rookie offensive guard David Quessenberry could easily be the steal of the draft for the Texans. Quessenberry looked solid in pass protection drills today and his technique has improved dramatically from OTAs. His strength is impressive for a rookie and he has the ability to stun rushers. He stopped rushers today and knows how to finish blocks when needed.
- Danieal Manning started the fun today during one on one drills by picking off a pass intended for Owen Daniels. This was a good sight to see for Manning who struggled last season in pass coverage.
- Ben Tate��looks spry running the football and when given space to work with he makes defenders miss. Today Tate on a normal outside zone play made one move and got up-field to the second level and made a defender miss which led to a huge gain. With Arian Foster out, Tate has taken advantage of his time with the first team.
- Rookie running back Dennis Johnson impressed with his suddenness on the football field, not with running the football but with delivering a blow. Today in pass protection he rocked fellow running back Cierre Wood and got a rise from his position group. Johnson, despite his size, does everything at another level. He has the speed, quickness and hands to make a positive impression for the Texans. Johnson and Wood will be a fun match-up to watch for the 3rd running back spot when camp breaks.
- Eddie Pleasant and rookie D.J. Swearinger both played well inside the box in 9 on 7 drills. Both safeties mixed it up inside the box and put solid hits on running backs. Both played well but Swearinger is really fitting into place as the team's third safety. Swearinger will be brought along slowly but his ability is evident on the field.
- Rookie nose tackle Chris Jones finally got the chance to show why he was a draftable player. He showed his pass rushing ability from the nose position when he caused a high throw that led to an interception by inside linebacker Mike Mohamed. Jones finally got to put the pads on and he impressed on day one of contact.
- Duane Brown and J.J. Watt pushed each other on the field and both gave each other some good work, especially in the run game. They both have their wins in certain situations but they give each other the work they need to get better.
- Right guard Brandon Brooks looked solid in pass protection today and his strength is a sight to see. When he gets latched on to the defender, the advantage goes to Brooks against defensive lineman. Brooks even went against Watt, and Watt tried a bull rush but Brooks was able to anchor the defensive player of the year in pass pro. It was impressive to say the least.
- Wade Smith did not practice today as he was out sick. Ben Jones filled in at left guard for the day.