I got to the Texans practice facility right around the 8 am kickoff time and waded into the bleachers to watch some defensive back drills. They started with some backpedalling, then spin and catch a ball flung at them point blank. They did some coverage within the group, getting a jam and then moving back to catch a ball. I think the general consensus from bloggers I talked to and random watchers is that Fred Bennett is a goner, and he did nothing to disuade that notion in his one-on-one work. He was turned around by Dorin Dickerson, and looked out of sorts on a number of plays.
I was hoping I’d get to see the kickers go at it, but if they did kicking drills, they were far off in the distance. The punt team was in action, with both Jacoby Jones and sixth rounder Trindon Holliday returning. Hold on to your antacid pills, because they both had a fumble and both returned multiple ones through the lines. Granted, these weren’t exactly the first team special teams lines. But they both looked good when they weren’t putting it on the ground.
I saw some good things from third rounder Earl Mitchell in the pass rushing drills. He has a good burst and great technique with his feet to get low. He totally took Kasey Studdard off-guard and had the crowd cheering on his first rep. I was also impressed with the technique of Mitch Unrein, who showed a solid motor and a good initial hand punch. Shelley Smith did not look like he belonged with the rest of the offensive linemen.
Second rounder Ben Tate had a fairly good showing for himself in the scrimmages, he has a little more giddyup then I was expecting once he got past the first level. First rounder Kareem Jackson was torched a few times by Andre Johnson, but who wasn’t? Johnson was a machine out there today, running all sorts of routes and looking great during all of them. Jackson did show well against Kevin Walter in one-on-ones, earning a butt pat from the veteran. He’s very physical. Antwaun Molden, as Alan Burge pointed out to me, has problems within the first five yards, but probably has the best deep range of any cornerback on the roster. This would be another Texans CB who could convert to FS if the Texans actually admitted they had a problem there.
Overall, while I enjoyed myself and loved meeting some good bloggers that I’ve respected for awhile like Burge, BigRon and Chris of HoustonDiehards, I can’t really say I felt like I learned a lot from the experience. Part of that may be the Texans holding back play design for the open practices, but other than the rookies and who is playing with who on the depth charts, there isn’t a whole lot of new information out there.
I’ll be throwing together the wrap-ups in lieu of doing two of them today, so look for reactions from both practices later.