The Houston Texans continued the training camp grind and had a full padded practice on a typical Houston summer day at the Methodist Training Center. The Texans not only are trying to prepare for upcoming joint practices with the Detriot Lions but also their second preseason game at NRG Stadium.
With injuries and rest days mounting up for the Texans, here are some news and notes from the workday on Sunday.
Damarea Crockett Continues to Make Waves
If there is one thing the Texans have struggled to do during the O'Brien Era is to identify running backs to help long term. Now, there have been injuries that have derailed some careers, but they might have something in the Missouri product, Damarea Crockett.
There is one thing for sure when Crockett gets the football, defenders think twice on trying to square him up to hit him. Crockett can drop his pad level and use his frame to break tackles and bring the attack to defenders.
Today, he had three straight carries inside the red zone that saw him run through defenders. His best one was a run where he finished by running thought a safety dragging him into the endzone.
Crockett has continued to improve as the training camp has progressed.
Concerns for Matt Kalil at Left Tackle
It comes as little of a surprise that the concern for Matt Kalil is mounting, especially after his fall from grace from a potential top-end left tackle to start his career. With injuries piling up over the seasons, former general manager Brian Gaine and the Texans took a chance on Kalil.
The start of camp left many hopeful for Kalil seeing him move well and handle what was in front of him during practices. Unfortunately, when padded practices started, the game changed for him. When he was matched up with Whitney Mercilus and J.J. Watt, his issues began to show.
Fast forward to today's practice. It was quickly the worst performance of the Kalil experience since he arrived. With mental and physical fatigue piling up on Kalil, he struggled terribly at left tackle. Brennan Scarlett and Mercilus both made it look easy getting to Deshaun Watson during team drills. Scarlett just walked Kalil back towards Watson, and when Watson started to escape the pocket, Scarlett tossed Kalil off of him to touch Watson on his shoulders to signal a sack. As for Mercilus, he put on a spin move on Kalil where he set him up for an outside move and spun off the Kalil pass set and ended up with a wide-open lane on the inside straight to Watson. That too would have ended up a sack.
What the Texans plan is to this point is unknown. They do not appear in a rush to push Tytus Howard to left tackle after working him at left guard since he arrived. They want to continue to develop Howard properly and now rush his development.
Julien Davenport and Roderick Johnson are the next options, but until they start getting work with the first-team offense, it is all speculation. After the terrible day by Kalil, the Texans have to be concerned with the direction Kalil is trending in camp. There is little reason to think this will improve during the regular season.
Kahale Warring Missing Too Much Time
The Texans saw Kahale Warring arrive at training camp with a non-football injury that kept him out for the start of training camp. The word is that it is a right hamstring injury that kept him out and before the team took off to Green Bay, Warring returned to the field.
After a good two days of work for joint practices, Warring reaggravated the injury and now has had a huge setback that will keep him off the field for a while. With his absence, this pretty much opens the door for veteran Darren Fells to make the 53-man roster along with Jordan Akins and Jordan Thomas.
It is hard to see, at this point, Warring being a factor for the Texans in 2019.
Wide Receiver Group Battle
Locked in is the top end of the group with DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Keke Coutee. With the injury to Coutee, it is lining up as reminder how valuable DeAndre Carter is for the roster, especially from a slot and returner position. Those appear to be the top four of the group when the season arrives, and it is just a matter of Carter working himself back after missing time on the field.
Which leaves important depth positions to be ironed out and the three leading candidates are Steven Mitchell Jr., Vyncint Smith, and rookie Tyron Johnson. All three have different skills sets with Mitchell Jr. starting to get work at the slot. Smith continues to get the majority of his work as an outside receiver. Johnson remains an outside option with the versatility to move inside if needed.
This group will mainly depend on if the Texans keep five or six wide receivers. It will be left up to who makes the most of their reps on the field while Mitchell Jr. and Smith have more opportunities with targets during practices. Johnson has shown the more big-play ability than his counterparts.
Bill O'Brien Discusses Steven Mitchell Jr. and Tyron Johnson
- QB Deshaun Watson has moments of making the game look easy. Throwing with accuracy and moving the football. Then he has brief moments of making a mistake that turns into something bigger. Today, while trying to throw the ball away, he threw a lazy pass to the sideline not expecting for anyone to be near. The ball was sailing for the sideline, and CB Bradley Roby streaked over there to intercept the ball and then tap two feet inbounds to complete the catch. The play was after a productive drive that Watson was marching down the field, and one lousy decision ended the offenses day.
- For the second day in a row, CB Bradley Roby continues to thrive in coverage. With the interception of Watson, he continues to hold his own in coverage.
- OLB Jamal Davis II showed well in run defense and dropping into coverage. Davis dropped into the flat to get his right hand on a pass intended for a tight end which almost saw him haul it in for an interception.
- OL Zach Fulton is becoming an essential player in the offensive line with all of the injuries to the center position. Fulton has taken over the center duties with both Nick Martin and Greg Mancz down with injuries. Fulton has looked much more comfortable in his second season in the offense and helped the interior of the offensive line.
- The Texans put CB Lonnie Johnson Jr. matched up with DeAndre Hopkins on the day. Johnson appears to match up better against the bigger framed receivers than the quicker receivers. Johnson held his own against Hopkins and doesn't back down from the All-Pro wide receiver. One thing that stands out, Hopkins brings the best out of Johnson Jr. on the field, and it has shown he is not overwhelmed in his presence.
- QB A.J. McCarron has a black cast on his throwing hand. This is a good indication he will take time to heal. QB Joe Webb III will be the primary back up to Watson for the time being.
- The Texans are missing plenty of familiar names during practice. DE J.J. Watt, NT D.J. Reader, RB Duke Johnson, QB A.J. McCarron, WR Will Fuller, TE Jordan Thomas, DE Carlos Watkins, C Nick Martin, CB Jermaine Kelly Jr., CB Xavier Crawford, TE Kahale Warring, and CB Johnathan Joseph did not practice.
- Also, the Texans are working back from injury from the preseason game with the Packers. WR Keke Coutee, C/OG Greg Mancz, and S A.J. Moore.
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