Training camp Day 6 for the Texans was Day 1 for fans attending the first open practice of the season at Methodist Training Center.
Gates opened a half-hour earlier than the advertised 7:00 a.m., because – as I was told – the Reliant Park people didn’t want a long line of Texans fans on one side of Kirby mixing it up with Gov. Rick Perry non-fans who assembled on the stadium side of the street to protest Perry’s prayer event.
By the way, before I forget, an important note for fans attending training camp practice is that unlike past years, they are scanning the barcode on your ticket so if you made multiple copies of the same ticket or forwarded your pdf to someone else to print out, there’s a chance it might not work.
The major disappointment of the day was without a doubt the new bleacher configuration on the sideline. The Texans moved the VIP/sponsor tents from the south endzone area of the field to the prime mid-field sideline, pushing the fans to the redzones at each end.
The VIP/sponsor tent now stretches from around the 35 yard line on the north end to around the 20 yard line on the south end. The bleachers are now split into two sections, one at each end of the VIP tent.
The south bleachers are smaller than those on the north sideline so there’s more seating in the north section. A major issue is that the VIP tent obstructs the view of half the field from the south bleachers. If you’re in the north bleachers you have to slide down to about the 25 yard line to be able to see the entire field.
You could hear the fans in the south end letting out a sarcastic cheer when the team finally made their way to that end halfway through practice. Otherwise they could only guess what was going on down on the north end.
So basically your choices now – if you’re a fan and not one of the beautiful people or members of “Houston Society” as the sign says at the entrance of the VIP tent – are redzone bleachers, in some cases with obstructed views, or stand 10 deep in the endzone in Africa heat.
I’m not sure who was in charge of that re-arrangement but they get a fail from me.
Random observations from the football side of things:
- TJ Yates (#13), Jeff Maehl (#15) and Lestar Jean (#18) were among the first on the field today. The team was in full pads today.
- The practice routine is basically the same as it’s been in past years. Players enter the fields and do individual position work. Then over the course of two hours they progress through group work, team work (offense v. defense) and special teams.
- The Texans have a ton of DBs. I counted 18. (read: roster check-up)
- When people were asking me today about my biggest concern, my answer was linebacker depth. They could use another body or two.
- DeMeco Ryans was moving around well. He’s doing everything that the others are doing.
- It’s strange watching Mario working with the linebackers
- Sitting out today: Arian Foster, Paul Williams, Brian Cushing, Andre Johnson
- During position work, Wade Phillips and an assistant coach were working with the inside linebackers on gap assignment drills and keys while Reggie Herring worked with the outside backers on edge rushing and hands techniques, i.e, slapping dummies and aggressive swims and chops on real and simulated pass blockers.
- Starting Mike and Mo linebackers today were Ryans and Sharpton. Outside backers Williams and Barwin. Quin and Manning at safety and Joseph and Jackson at corner. Watt was at left defensive end opposite Antonio Smith. Shaun Cody and Earl Mitchell traded off at nose.
- Cheta Ozougwu got some reps at second team inside linebacker next to Xavier Adibi. Ozougwu is bigger than I thought… roster says 6-2, 255 but he’s all of 6-2. Brooks Reed and Nading were the 2’s at outside backer and Matt Marcorelle and Stanford Keglar were 3rd team Mike and Mo
- Troy Nolan and Quintin Demps opened as second team safeties while Dom Barber worked with the 3’s.
- The defense looks different – but in a good way. Much more pressure up front as you’d expect from Wade’s system.
- Johnathan Joseph wearing #24 made me think … I’m pretty sure he’s the first Texans player not named Brown to wear that number.
- Ben Tate was very impressive today. Ran hard. Looked good.
- Matt Leinart got some run with the 1’s today.
- First play of 11 on 11’s, Schaub rolled out right chased by … wait for it …. Mario Williams. Quite a sight.
- Brice McCain was the first team nickel corner today
- Owen Daniels was back on the field after being ill yesterday. He made a few catches and looked like the old OD.
- Kareem Jackson looked like the same old Kareem when Kevin Walter turned him around in circles while making a catch on a deep sideline route
- Neil Rackers had good height and distance on several FG attempts from the 35.
- Trindon Holliday is still tiny.
- Brandon Harris had a nice diving interception of T.J. Yates which he returned for TD
- J.J. Watt sure has a knack for batting down balls. He batted one of Schaub’s passes up in the air and almost got a pick out of it.
- T.J. Yates showed good pocket presence at times. Stood in there under a heavy rush and delivered a strike downfield.
- Brad Maynard and Brett Hartmann are having a punting competition. Both took turns holding placements for Rackers.
- Jacoby Jones, Derrick Townsel and Trindon Holliday shagged punts