Texans Tidbits: KPRC 2 Sports Director Randy McIlvoy’s takeaways from Camp on Friday

Season opens September 10 in KC against the Chiefs

HOUSTON – There are ten of us in the media that are approved to attend some workouts and watch practice and there was certainly a buzz at NRG this morning when we all reported for our mandatory COVID-19 test that is required to gain access.

We all had that extra hop in our steps and smiles on our faces as we then secured our spots in the air-conditioned trailer provided for us to unload our gear and grab a small workspace.

Football is back and for the first time since January’s collapse at KC, I got to see football again. Yes, it was a camp workout, but it was all good. The sights and sounds of the game had returned and that’s a good thing right?

Friday marks 26 days until the season actually kicks off for the Texans who open September 10 back in KC at Arrowhead Stadium against the Super Bowl Champs. Every day is ramped up because the time will fly by quickly.

I like football on all levels and always enjoy watching camp workouts especially the one-on-one drills as guys fight for jobs.

Anyway, here are my Texans tidbits from Friday’s workout. I took notes on my phone as I watched players and drills. So from my notes, here are a few of my observations:

  1. Defense plays with high intensity. I enjoyed watching this unit today. New DC Anthony Weaver’s already rubbing off on their style. They were fired up, play after play
  2. Speaking of making plays on the Defense, shoutout to Carlos Watkins. In my notes, I just wrote down " WATKINS — BEAST.” The 4th year DT out of Clemson (#93) made two stops behind the line of scrimmage. A couple of TFL’s had Watkins jumping for joy and high-fiving his fellas. (Weaver effect). Plays with passion. really like this guy.
  3. No D.J. Reader. Caught myself saying where is he? Then it sank in again that he’s long gone to the Bengals. This Defense will have a hard time replacing Reader.
  4. WR catch of the day: #11 Stephen Mitchell Jr. had a great catch on an out route from QB A.J. McCarron, I believe. Mitchell was covered well but went upstairs to haul it in and get some extra yardage as he ran right past me and 610′s Sean Pendergast. This dude is lightning quick and showed great hands and athletic ability. He’s only 5′10″ but didn’t look it on that play.
  5. Tight Ends were excellent today. Jordan Thomas stood out. He’s lost some weight and is moving very well. Made several nice catches. He’s going to be a factor and has the confidence of QB Deshaun Watson. The other TE’s just as good from what I saw. Darren Fells, who is 6′7″, 270 pounds was smooth with his route running while Jordan Akins kept pace as well. Kahale Warring is back after missing last year with an injury. Not sure where he will end up. This is a deep group.
  6. Running back David Johnson looked really good on Friday. This was a controversial pickup by O’Brien with the trade of Hopkins to Arizona but if he stays healthy, he could revert back to what he did in 2016 when he was a top tier back. Johnson had three nice runs during 11-on-11 drills. I saw him up close earlier in practice. He’s bigger than I thought with the eye test. He’s 6′1″ around 225 pounds. He stood out today. He and Duke Johnson will tag team together. Both have great hands out of the backfield.
  7. WR group: Man it’s odd not to see Deandre Hopkins out here doing his thing. That still may take a while to get used to. He will be missed but now the slack needs to be picked up. I watched this group and their drills a lot today and was impressed with Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks. Cobb usually led off each drill to set the bar for the rest of the group. I caught him a couple of times being asked by young receivers for guidance. I couldn’t hear, of course. You could tell Cobb was happy to instruct them. He and Cooks are both 5′10″ and are smooth route runners. Pleasant site for me was seeing #15 out there moving around well. Yes, Will Fuller is healthy again and a little bigger than in the past. They list him at 184 pounds so he has added weight. One person told me they thought he was closer to 190 pounds. Fuller’s health is a big question for this offense. When he’s on the field they produce. Keeping him there has been a challenge every year.
  8. Jack Easterby’s presence: You’ve heard this name a lot. From chaplain in New England with the Patriots, Easterby is now Bill O’Brien’s right-hand man as the guru of football operations. I hadn’t spotted him until later in practice. No wonder because the guy is constantly on the move. He doesn’t sit still and was smiling and clapping after good plays were made. His enthusiasm is contagious.

Ok, those are my takes from Friday’s practice. Vanessa Richardson will have much more as Bill O’Brien, J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson all spoke with the media on ZOOM.

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