Ask Me Anything about Texans OTAs

Ask Me Anything about Texans OTAs
  • Greetings. As you may know, my current blog is located at the Ultimate Texans section of the Houston Chronicle online. Due to that, I've been attending the vet and rookie minicamp sessions, and now the OTAs (Organized Team Activities).

    I know a lot of people have questions about the changes under head coach Bill O'Brien and his staff, and how it affects various players. I answer a lot of those questions at my blog, Twitter and Facebook, but I thought this would be a good place to collect these Q&As in one place with no space limitations.

    So if you are a Texans or fantasy football fan, please leave a question and I'll answer it if there is an answer at this point. Anything that you might be curious about, no question is too obscure or random. 

    I see a lot of things online about what is going on over at practice, and a lot of times, I think, "Nah, it isn't like that at all." 

    The question may not show up right away because I have to be at my computer and review it before it is posted, but I will see them all. (I will be gone most of the day on Thursday, for example). When I have enough collected to be interesting, I will embed this at my blog.
  • With the super early Sean Lee injury for the Cowboys, what steps do teams like the Texans taking to ensure their shiny new draft picks, free agents, veterans etc so early in the training camp process?

  • NFL is inherently a dangerous sport, even if there isn't supposed to be contact during OTAs. You can't wrap them in bubble wrap. Typically, the coaches want the players to stay off the ground.

    As it relates to players like Brian Cushing and Johnathan Joseph who are coming off of injuries, they are going to be very slow in bringing them back.

    We will likely not know too much about injuries with new head coach Bill O'Brien. NFL teams are only required to have injury reports during the season, so they don't have to inform you of stuff now, and likely won't. When I asked O'Brien his philosophy on this, he said:

    “My main philosophy on that is I really don’t want to talk about the injury until I know what it is. A lot of times when I come off the field, people will ask me about the injury but I haven’t even spoken to Kap (head athletic trainer Geoff Kaplan) or anybody about that injury. As we move forward, I’ll follow the rules of the National Football League and when the injury reports are supposed to come out, I’ll put them out. I think the thing about injuries, to me, it’s very personal to that player. To come in here and just start right away talking about injuries, without knowing too much about it, is probably the wrong thing to do as it relates to the players. I always try to do what’s best for the player.”

  • How much chemistry has already been developed on the D line with the addition of Clowney? Communication playing such a big part on D. 

  • Too early to talk chemistry. The line is batting down a lot of passes, which is what they've liked to do for a while, and can be easier to do when the offense isn't doing real contact with them. (The batted down passes don't help the offense much).

    Will say that D.J. Swearinger said today (5/29) that he likes this defense a lot, that they have more calls to make, and it is easier to disguise looks, confuse opponents. He thinks that his teammates are very bright and will pick it up quickly. 

  • Can fans take pictures/watch practices through the fence at this point?

  • This is not for the public, and I'm sure they wouldn't like that activity. Public training camp sessions are usually announced in the first part of July.

  • From a distance, it seems like this coaching staff believes in scheme over personnel and might end up being the type of scheme that tries to fit a square peg in a round hole.  The very selection of Tom Savage speaks to a staff that thinks they're smarter than other staffs around the league.

    Personally, I'm nervous that they're not going to get maximum production from Arian Foster and JJ Watt in particular.  

    Fair concern?

  • As for quarterback, I think what O'Brien said before the draft is what he meant. That the way they evaluated the quarterbacks wasn't just the big three. That each of the QB prospects had strengths and weaknesses, enough that there were a lot of good quarterbacks to choose from, depending on what you specifically valued.

    In watching camp, you can completely see why they picked Tom Savage. If you didn't know any of these guys' stories, and you just were watching them throwing against air, skill wise, he just looks more like a starting NFL quarterback than the others. Nice mechanics. The ball comes out like a rope, even in bad windy conditions. He can make all the throws, and has the strongest arm I've seen in a Texans camp. (Yes, tallest Hobbit sort of thing to say). Obviously his size. Comes from a part of world that develops QBs. Nobody was recruiting him to be a safety, for example.

    Hard to eval him from college because his college career was unorthodox and his line was pretty terrible last year, but there were moments you could see what they saw. Why he was a good value where they got him.

    O'Brien's offense is very involved, so it's not just a question of physical skills. But whoever he drafted, he was going to have to pretty much rebuilt in the way he needed them to be built for a very mentally intensive offense. So there was never going to be a Let Johnny Be Johnny kind of quarterback pick.

    So I think Tom Savage actually is the round peg in the round hole. The pre-draft view of him was that he could be a good quarterback if he went to a place with good quarterback coaching, and this might be the best place he could go. O'Brien needs a guy who can make all the throws.

    Foster, I think, could fit in most systems. He blocks, has good vision, can catch the ball out of the backfield. He's mentioned that he likes the offense because he is going to be doing more pass catching. I am not sure that Foster will have the TD numbers that he had in the previous scheme just because the old OC had such a strong preference for the running TD if it could be done.

    I asked J.J. Watt about the concern that under Crennel's defense, he is going to have fewer sacks. He wouldn't bite on that, and basically said, I don't care what people think and just watch. (Few players are talking much detail about anything they are doing, which I believe is part of the redoubled emphasis on team first, and less me me me talk. No way that J.J. Watt this year would talk about that 20 sack thing like last year even if he had it as a goal).

    I think nationally, there's a view that Crennel is going to try to fit guys in spots they don't fit well in, and that more local people are saying that Crennel can be creative with his players to take advantage of their skills.

    Will be interesting to see how quickly they can develop their front 7. The defensive line with the departure of Antonio Smith is very young. Usually young is tough on defensive linemen, because few can have the kind of immediate success that J.J. Watt had. It's a grown man position.

    So as far as fair is concerned, like most everything, this is wait and see. 

  •  Has there been a standout at ILB? How are the LB's as a whole looking? 
  • Can't say much about linebacker play because no hitting during OTAs. And so early. (I know that you want me to name names, but given what they are doing, and so little time doing it, I don't think I can responsibly do that).

    Jadeveon Clowney looks as advertised. Not as physically imposing as seeing Mario Williams the first day of camp, but the quickness/size combo is pretty welcome to see. 

    The biggest change linebacker-wise, I think involves coaching. Mike Vrabel is doing a ton of very specific coaching, working tons on leverage/hand placement. Likely have seen more coaching so far of the linebackers in individual drills than I've seen in years past.

  • When do they think Andre Johnson is going to show up? Or will he wait till training camp?

  • Don't know when they think he is back. I'm guessing it is later when he starts losing money. He doesn't have a ton of leverage.

    This is an offense that very much depends on quarterbacks and wide receivers being on the same page. So the longer he stays away, the harder it is on the team when he returns. 

    I'm trying to think of it as a good thing of him not being exposed to injury. And am trying to wait for it as a training camp thing. Sometimes in years past, he hasn't participated this early but just watched after recovering from injuries.

  • Have their been any formations yet as how they line up on offense?  If yes is it similar to the Moss-Welker-Stallworth era in NE?

  • We are not supposed to comment on formations and who is lining up with which team. It is OK to say that given O'Brien's background, and comments about the need for slot receivers in the offense, that we will likely see a lot of the NE concepts, with a different shade of red, white and blue.

  • First, Just wanted to check in and say thanks for the reports and comments. I appreciate your analysis I know it takes a bunch of your time.

    Second - the question, yesterday's photo collection had some picts showing Clow... (oops no names, right), #90 then #21 running back interceptions.  Could you tell if those were due to really good defensive plays or offensive "teaching opportunities".  :o)

    Thanks again, ObsiWan 

  • Wish I could tell you. 

    Unlike a game, there are so many things going on all at once. Different units are on different fields, so when you are observing your head is on a swivel. So I saw the #21 interception, did not see the #90 one.

    Even if I saw them both, not sure I'd be able to responsibly (with the certainty you feel comfortable sharing with others) tell from the angles we are at, and not knowing what the responsibilities of the QB/WR are. Players on offense are very much talking about getting on the same page. In general, I think the defense is ahead of the offense, which is not uncommon even on teams that aren't learning new schemes.

    Will say it is a lot of fun seeing #99/#90 do things on the field together. The speed at that size is rather shocking that close.

  • A lot of fans (particularly those of us who didn't want the Texans to draft Clowney) were afraid of him being a repeat of Mario Williams i.e. freakish athlete who never really seems to frighten or harass opposing QB's to the extent you'd think they would.

    After getting a glimpse of the new #90, how does he compare to Mario Williams?

  • If your worst case scenario is that Clowney is another Mario Williams, then you are spoiled.

    Too early to say much. Clowney isn't as freakish of a specimen as Mario Williams was. When Mario first attended camp, and if you saw him from far away, you would have no idea he was that big, because he moved so well. (MW had a difficult rookie year because he struggled with toe then plantar fascitis issues and played through all of that).

    That said, Clowney has nice size, and can really move. Personality-wise, they are very different. Clowney seems to be much more comfortable and personable dealing with fans/media.

    And I am pretty sure he will have better coaching and mentoring than Mario Williams had. When Mario Williams arrived at the Texans, he was instantly their best defensive linemen. He didn't have any vet mentors who were any better than him. This is probably the first time in his life Clowney isn't instantly the best guy on his team.

    From 2006-2010, the Texans defensive coordinators were rookies and a number of their assistants were not good at their jobs. The bump up of the 2011 defense was a combination of J.J. Watt and the first time the defense had sound coaching in a long time.

    Specifically, linebacker coach Mike Vrabel is being very hands-on with the group, very much working on technique--taking out false steps, working on pass rush moves. I've already seen more coaching at that position than I've seen in all the previous years attending camp.

    Ultimately, I think the Mario-Clowney comparisons are unfair to both. Other than, if a staff doesn't like the choices at quarterback, you could do much worse than picking the best defender on the draft board. 

    Watt can't be the entirety of the pass rush. And if you look at the best defenses of 2013, most of them have at least two fearsome pass rushers.

  • You mentioned DJ Swearinger being a good fit, are there other players that were maybe out of place in the last regime that could find a greater role in the new scheme?

  • I didn't mention Swearinger as being a good fit...rather, he talked about how much he likes the new defense compared to last year:

    "It’s a lot of adjustments, but it’s all adjustments for the better. We like it. I like it a whole lot better than last year because it gives us flexibility. We’ll be able to confuse a lot of the quarterbacks, switching up calls and stuff like that. I like it. Just ready to keep going with it…There’s great quarterbacks in this league. We’ve got to switch up calls and do different things, to play with the quarterbacks. It hasn’t been tough. We got a lot of smart guys in the secondary, in this defense. As a pro it’s your job to know, to adjust to different calls. It’s our job to learn, stay in the playbook."

    Certainly, safety is a position they need better play from, so perhaps he is right that the defense suits him better. We likely won't have a good feel for that until we see some real tackling. If they get a better pass rush, that helps everyone in the secondary.

    Not sure about the Brooks Reed inside linebacker experiment. I'd like to think he'd be better than most of the guys they've put next to Cushing in the post-DeMeco era. They experimented with that last year while Cushing was out, but OLB was so thin too, they kept him outside.

    I think a lot of the carried-over personnel fit better in their previous schemes. Which is not unusual. TEs. Possession WRs. A few of the Olinemen. Some of the smaller sizes of the defensive players. Going to take some time to transform roster, and I'm curious to see between OTAs/training camp who they bring in to compete with previous guys they aren't completely sold on.

  • Okay, I know that if you bring up Case Keenum you get dubbed a Houston Cougar lover (which I'm not) and every radio talk show host in Houston rolls their eyes.  

    But, didn't this guy do pretty good things for a first year QB with a team that was imploding around him.  Any chance the current coaching staff gives Case a real opportunity?

  • O'Brien has said that the QB competition is "wide open" and at this point he is giving the QBs equal reps until he has to make decision closer to the season of who is going to get starter reps. And making the right decision on that is important, because increased reps with the first team is key for proper prep for the season.

    Though there's a lot of details that media folks are not supposed to report as a condition of credentialing. (see this blog post that explains what is the same and different: How your offseason Texans news is made), there are some observations I can share about this topic.

    It looks like Case Keenum is getting a VERY fair shot to prove himself in this system, probably more than most UDFA QBs of a previous coach would get. 

    I am not sure that this offensive system is well-suited to what CK's strengths are, but it does look like they are giving him a close evaluation. 

  • Hear a lot about iPads taking place of play books. Other than the obvious difference is carrying around a huge 3 ring binder full of paper can you  provide some  other positives?

  • I haven't seen them but as I understand the best part is that you can put tape on them, and they are more secure. Here's a good article about the use of them in the NFL: Touch Football: How the iPad is revolutionizing the playbook for NFL players and coaches.

  • There has been a lot if conversation around Andre and finding/developing a slot receiver, but things have been quiet about DeAndre Hopkins. How is he adapting to O'Brien's system?

  • First, let's start with Hopkins' words on the subject, which are better than just me guessing:

    “It’s not been easy; I’m not going to lie.  It’s a new playbook, you have to refocus, you have to do everything you did your rookie year all over again, but I feel like I know how to prepare better than last year, just going out and learning from Andre (Johnson) and doing things like that, and I feel like I’m becoming a better player overall.”

    With Andre not playing yet, Hopkins to me, as he should, looks like the best wide receiver. Hopkins and the QBs have all talked about getting on the same page together and how the offense is tough to learn.

    This is what O'Brien said about the learning both the offensive and defensive schemes:

    “I think it’s a multiple offense. There are a lot of formations. There’s a lot of terminology. If you look at the receiver position, many of our routes are based on what coverage, what technique we’re seeing out there. The quarterback and the receiver have to be on the same page. I’ll talk about the defensive package, too; it’s very multiple. It requires a lot of communication. So there’s a lot of thinking early on that has to go on until you get it right and I think that requires a lot of repetitions and a lot of film-watching and working together as a staff and then the staff with players. I think we’re on the right track there. We’ve given these guys a ton of information over the last seven, seven and a half weeks that we’ve been together, especially the veterans and these guys are working really hard. They have iPads, so they take them home over the weekend and they study. They try to get ahead on what’s going in the following week. It’s been pretty good to watch that process.”

    Somebody in the media tried to get O'Brien to differentiate between young wide receivers and vet ones, and he wasn't having it, and made this sort of funny response, "I like receivers that get open and catch the ball. Whether they’re young or they have years of experience in the league, guys that get open and catch the football are the kind of receivers that I think we all like."

    Hopkins can certainly catch the ball, and often does catches that bail out bad throws. I think for him, the key is to learn the playbook well enough, he can just use his athleticism. 

  • Thanks for starting this it a great way for a TEXANS fan living in Arizona to pick up with my TEXANS. My question is with all the changes this offseason how is the QB  position looking right now in regards to the starting QB position will Case Keenum be the starting quarterback this year.

  • Glad you like this. O'Brien says that the QB competition is wide open. I think the best starter for this Texans team would be if you could combine Tom Savage's physical size and arm strength, with Ryan Fitzpatrick's brains and experience, and T.J. Yates and Case Keenums' guts and moxy.

    That is a gross sentence. I apologize.

    At this point, it is impossible to tell how fast any of these guys will pick up the offense. From an arm perspective, Savage is the most impressive (tho missing on some things you would expect a rookie to struggle with). From a picking up the offense perspective, I don't think any of the candidates stands out as being substantially better. 

    It's too early. I can spin various scenarios of different guys getting the nod. But as I said in the previous answer, I do think that all the QBs, whether they are Kubiak-era guys or not, are getting a very fair look.

  • What's the dope on Johnathan Joseph? I believe he missed the first day of OTAs but haven't heard word of him since. If he's been out there, do these skeleton drills give you a fair idea of whether he's over his 2xhernia issues?

  • This is a combination of what I know and observed re: JJo:

    1. The injury that slowed him in 2012 was the 2 hernias. The injury that knocked him out of 2013 was a toe injury that required surgery.

    2. He is not practicing right now. He doesn't seem to be overly concerned about his recovery, nor have I heard of any setbacks.

    3. O'Brien isn't going to give you good information about injuries, but he doesn't seem overly concerned at this time of year.

    4. The team's actions in the draft don't look like a team concerned about his recovery. That being said, with an aging player with injury issues the last two seasons, I hope their feel good about their Plan B options for corner. Healthy JJo and Kareem Jackson is better than most team's situations. But the corner drop off after that is ungood, which is the situation for most of the league. Corner is a premium position.

  • There have been observations that Fitzpatrick's  throws have been floating and wobbling, with him repeatedly rubbing his shoulder.  Makes one think he may be dealing with an soreness/injury?  This may not be something that you are able to comment about.

  • This is what I've observed:

    1. Nobody with team has mentioned anything about that nor have his reps appeared to decrease, as you might do if you were concerned about injury or overuse. I have seen the shoulder rub thing but just once in a while. Could be a thing, could just be a physical tic, like when a guy adjusts his jersey repeatedly. 

    2. His passes in the air don't look manifestly different than Case Keenum's or T.J. Yates. The QB in OTAs who throws a consistently nice spiral is Tom Savage. (He has some other issues at this stage, like sometimes throwing to a point a little late--basic things from getting used to an offense).

    3. My observations of Fitzpatrick is that he looks like the guy I saw last year.

    4. No way O'Brien would comment on that, but I do think that it is relevant to your question that his reps don't look like how you would handle things if you had a injury/soreness concern. So I'd put that in the WAS category. Wild A** Speculation.

  • "Hey Steph, I know you've been watching these for years now....

    Can you see an attitude shift because of this new coaching regime?"
  • I've read/heard a lot of opinions about more energy etc, and I don't see that. Under Kubiak, they always went quickly from  one activity to another, etc. Was pretty up tempo with very little downtime other than for water breaks.

    I will say that the specifics of the drills are different under O'Brien, and that at specific positions, it looks like there is some more active coaching. It's new to everyone, so there is learning for everyone including the vets.

    And O'Brien does a lot of moving around from offense, defense and special teams, so that gives an added incentive not to be embarrassed in front of coach.

    Also think there's more hands on coaching on special teams, which there better be.

    In terms of the message of what is being said, I think just in general everyone is expressing an energy of being humbled and starting over. There's less arrogance, Super Bowl talk but still positive about the changes. 

    With any coaching change, you have to prove yourself to the next guys, and you don't know what to expect.  Message wise, it is all, "work hard, attention to detail, accomplishments in the past don't matter, detail oriented, feel like being a rookie again, being a good teammate."

    Message-wise that is not that different than Kubiak. This was never a team that was slackers and was very doing anything for the team. But that most are all saying the same message with very little individual personality stuff thrown in is new.

    That the top players are buying in to get the other players to buy in too. Seems to be less outward goofiness and fun, and more all business stuff. (That might be all for media types and less how it is in the locker room, but that's how it seems).

    Culturally, they are looking to find any way to improve. And it is obvious that new blood in the building is looking for changes. 

  • This question isn't unique to this season and since you've seen your fair share of OTAs, training camps, and in-season practices I'd like your opinion on a discussion that's going around the message board:

    We know that O'Brien is installing his new offense now and will be doing so until the season begins.  All four QBs are getting reps and learning as best they can this summer.  But once the season begins the focus shifts to installing the specific game plan for each given week and making sure the starters have sufficient reps to assure they have their roles down pat.

    Rightly or wrongly, it's widely believed, once the season begins, the youngster - in our case Mr. Savage - will be running the scout team; i.e., emulating the opposing offensive scheme.  This leaves precious few learning reps for said youngster to get reps in the shiny, new, O'Brien offense. 

    Two questions (1) is this the way it really works and (2) will this lessen the likelihood of Savage starting before the season is done.

    Thanks again.

  • Too early. Here's how things really work at practice. There's lots of media gossip at practice as we stand around watching players work or wait to ask questions. You have your thoughts, you bounce thoughts off of others, they bounce thoughts off of you. (And you try to guard against group think).

    At this point, watching the players work, I have no idea at all what the order of QBs will be going into the season. And I think in chatting with others, I don't think there is much of a consensus at this point. 

    And we are going to get little feedback at all from O'Brien.

    I hate to bring up the name Brady in this sort of convo because Brady is The Tom Brady Best Draft Pick Evaar, but his rookie year as a 6th round pick, he started the year 4th string, and ended it as a backup, and then his second year took the job and never looked back.

    If I were evaluating who is doing what at a completely unsettled QB spot, I'd have two basic considerations: 1. Who is the QB whose performance and development isn't going to totally screw over the rest of the team while he's playing? 2. Who is the talent worth spending developmental reps on?

    Consideration 1 leans toward experienced guys. Consideration 2 very much favors Tom Savage. 

    I don't have a clue how this is going to work out, and if I were guessing from what I've seen and heard, I don't think the Texans clearly know this sort of thing right now either. They might have ideas of what they'd like to have happen, but until the guys show what they can do in the installation and learning of the offense, I don't think it is sorted out.

  • I think one of the things that you can gain from OTAs is how certain guys are moving around .  The potential RTs consist of two guys that were on the IR .  So how is David Quessenberry 

    doing ?

  • From what he says, he feels like he is just competing for any spot. If you look at the body types that brought in as UDFA, they are looking at more mammoth guys than the Kubiak Texans brought in.

    I thought he looked really good last year before he got hurt. I sort of think he fit better with last year's offense, but it's early. I'm not sure he is the body type they are looking for but as far as being tough/smart, he is that sort of guy. That he wants to be position flexible is a plus for him with new folks that value being able to do multiple things.. 

    According to this report, he wasn't at Day 5 OTAs: didn't see him either. Given O'Brien's policy of not commenting on guys who are not there, we can't read anything into absences one way or another.

  • Any open references to New England from the team? Have you heard New England or Patriots or anything mentioned by the team or coaches in any way? 

    What do you think of Posey? Any difference from last year?

    Where's Prosch? Hadn't seen/heard much about him yet.

  • O'Brien mentioned some NE running backs as example of three down guys like Foster is. Block, run, pass catch. I've heard they've been watching some NE tape on how things are supposed to look. (Kubiak Texans did that with Bronco tape at the beginning. That is very helpful because showing something that has worked before is a great teaching tool).

    Posey has looked decent but most WRs not named Trindon Holliday look good in non-hitting practices. Not sure what his role will be in the new offense.

    Prosch. Thick build, true fullback. No more old fullbacks. They can build him how they want. Could be an asset on special teams, which they very much need.

  • CKW,...With Clowneys speed and size, could we possibly use him as a tight-end in some packages?

  • Possibly? Maybe a Lloyd Christmas sort of possibly.

    But no.

  • I was really excited that the Texans drafted Fiedorowicz to compete at TE. How has he looked in general and in comparison to the other guys at the position?

    Also, curious who appear to be the leader (vocal or otherwise) in the various units?

  • It's early but he looks beastly big. The size TE that the Kubiak Texans never really utilized. The Kubiak sort of fungible model of TE was more of the Broncos Shannon Sharpe idea--tight end as sort of a large WR or smallish TE. Which works well for some match ups, not so well for others. I don't think it is fair to put Gronk on Fiedorowicz, but the big body style I think is the future way they want to go, from a game plan flexibility standpoint.

    As far as leadership, I think one of the issues that the Texans had in recent years was jettisoning leaders and not being able to replace them with true leaders. They attempted to replace DeMeco Ryans with a bunch of randoms, with the hope that Cushing could stay healthy. That plan didn't work.  Cap was a captain for a reason--a very difficult guy to replace from a leadership perspective.

    It's weird when your Olinemen are part of your strongest leaders for a offense, but they were never really able to replace Eric Winston, both from a leadership and playing perspective. 

    And when you have no incumbent QB, it has to create some sort of leadership void that journeyman, backups, rookie have a hard time filling.

    I asked O'Brien about this, and he took exception to the idea that it may be a challenge to develop leaders for a team that doesn't have an incumbent quarterback or a long time player like a Ray Lewis. (both things I mentioned in my question). His response to me on who he sees as leaders?

     “I would say we have pretty good leadership on this football team on both sides of the ball. On special teams, Shane Lechler. Defensively: J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing, Brooks Reed, Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, (D.J.) Swearinger. Offensively: Duane Brown, Chris Myers, (Arian) Foster. I think the quarterbacks—the three that have been here—have shown good leadership ability. Obviously, Andre Johnson when he decides to come back, I think we have good leadership on this football team.”

    Out of his list, I think the only traditional sorts of leaders are Shane Lechler, J.J. Watt, and Chris Myers. Guys who combine good play, experience, and verbal direction. It's hard to be a leader as quarterback when you don't know whether you are going start or even make the team.The rest of the players he mentioned are some a mix of great players, good players, and hmmm players who are vets. Decent locker room guys, but not guys I'd confuse with all time NFL great leaders.  

    And Andre Johnson, who is a great player of the lead by example sort, isn't buying in right now. So, that's hard position to lead from.

    Was interesting he mentioned 2nd year player, D.J. Swearinger, because though he has a lot of confidence that you need to have to play that position well, his play often didn't back up his words last year, and he was hit with some ungood penalties.

    O'Brien may have had to answer the question the way he did to support his guys publicly and to build them up, but I see a huge leadership void for this team. A lot of guys who are great locker room guys, hard workers etc, but not a lot of been there, done that, we got this. Perhaps some more true leaders will emerge, but this is a team that is going to have to develop leadership and true confidence (not just talk confidence).

  • O'Brien mentioned in his Tuesday presser, that only 3 of 4 QBs were getting reps with the first team due to logistics.  I was unclear if that meant only 3 of the 4 were getting reps each day (ie. Fitz, Case, Yates while Savage sits out), or if each day a QB 'sits' out of the first team reps on a rotation. 

  • That is a good question. I am not sure how he is counting it. And I missed Tuesday's practice so I didn't watch in light of his comments. They all do drills. 

    And what makes it tough from a covering it perspective is that unlike previous years, we don't see the end of their practices. We are asked to leave when they are all working on certain things at the end. 

  • I've read that TE Ryan Griffin has put on 18 lbs. in the offseason, and that OL David Quessenberry added muscle getting "bigger and stronger"...

    Any other noticeable physical differences in returning players who look like they spent their offseasons serrious about upping their game in 2014?

  • This question was asked before the news on Quessenberry's lymphoma diagnosis. I interviewed him the other day, and it is crushing to see someone who looks so big and healthy find out such a difficult diagnosis.

    (As an aside to anyone who is reading this, in addition to any positive thoughts and prayers you have for he and his family, please consider donating blood if you are able. If you want to donate to MD Anderson specifically, there is an easy to get in and out of donation location on Holly Hall close to NRG Stadium.

    Lymphoma is one of a number of blood cancers, and in the treatment of those cancers, they use a lot of blood products. Sometimes when there are shortages, it causes discomfort to patients while waiting for blood products. Donating blood is a way that ordinary people, who may not be NFL player sized, to be heroes and help literally save people's lives).

    As for the question you asked, I know some people have said this guy or that guy looks substantially transformed, I don't really see huge differences other than the presumed better options players have when they have access to money and better workout facilities.  

    This is what Bill O'Brien said about target weights at this time of year: 

    (on players adding or losing weight in the offseason and if that is something they have done individually) “I would say at this point that is them individually. I would say that that’s more them individually and hopefully in time, it becomes more of our ability to teach them about nutrition. We talk to them about nutrition quite a bit here on a day-to-day basis. I would say right now it’s more about the individual player finding the right way to eat and hydrating, things like that. We do educate the younger players as much as we can on those things. Again, we’re still evaluating all of that. Just like everything within the organization, we can always try to improve.”

    I think the biggest transformative things aren't going to be size/muscle things but more mental development/fit with new scheme.
  • Thanks for all the insight Stephanie!  I was looking for any status on Brennan Williams from OTAs.  Is he competing with Newton on the field or still nursing some injury? Thanks.
  • Derek Newton is pretty much in line for the starting RT job. From O'Brien today (6/13):

    “Derek Newton is our starting right tackle. He’s had a good offseason. He’s been here since the day that I arrived here. He’s been working out, and when April 7th hit, he was here every day and he hasn’t missed a day. He’s been healthy and hopefully in continues that way. I think he’s practiced well and we’re looking forward to seeing how he does in training camp.”

    Mentioning all the days he has been practicing is in stark contrast to Brennan Williams. Not practicing yet, has been working out on the side field. It is reported he is coming back from knee microfracture surgery. Though others may see it differently, I do not think he looks particularly good. 

    I do not have a lot of optimism about his contributions to this team, and if he comes back and does well, there will be nobody as happy and surprised as I am.  He barely worked with the team last year when he was hurt, and was behind everyone right away with figuring out basic technique stuff.

    So, tackle feels unnervingly thin right now. And pray for Chris Myers. He may be the hardest working guy in camp, and a key person to help these QBs. I would not like the Plan B option if he wasn't his usual go. 

  • How does Lonnie Ballentine "Mr. Irrelevant" look so far in the Texans camp. Does he look like he's going to make the team. I totally wish the best for him.

  • Especially this early, with no real tackling, I will defer to Bill O'Brien's point of view from June 5th:

    (on the safety position) “In (Kendrick) Lewis and (Chris) Clemmons you’ve got two guys that have played a lot of football. They can play in the box. They can play in the deep part of the field. We’ve got a young guy back there that we drafted in Lonnie Ballentine that has done some decent things. We’ve got Eddie Pleasant and Shiloh Keo that have really competed hard in the offseason here. Again, our guys are competing hard on special teams. We’ve got a diverse group of safeties back there and they are all competing hard. Probably would be said about every position out here. Training camp will be the true test for all of these players.”

    He's said good things about D.J. Swearinger at other times.

    The best thing going for Ballentine is that: 1. NFL trend is for bigger bodies in the secondary; 2. Crennel likes a bigger bodied defense; 3. Position where there is no long time incumbent; 4. His size/speed combo would be nice for special teams, and that is the role he will need to excel in to make the team.
  • What's the story behind Roberta Anding's departure?

  • I do not know. Roberta Anding is a registered dietician has worked with the Houston Texans since their beginning. Her focus is in sports nutrition.

    Here's her tweet on the subject of her departure:

    As my time at the comes to an end a shout out + love to Mcnairs,MDs/ATCs + my current and former players-u r amazing!

    She is very well regarded by the players.

    Bill O'Brien has spoken recently about how proper nutrition is key to the team's future success:

     “We’re really evaluating all parts of our organization, myself and Rick Smith. Nutrition is really a big part of what we do here and what we talk to our players about. Just like everything, when Rick and I sit down with Mr. McNair, he is open to changes and open to listening. We’re not at that stage where we are ready to report to him what we see there, but we’re definitely observing all different aspects of the organization, with nutrition being one of them. Nutrition is so important for the players because, basically, their bodies are their business. It’s important for those guys to understand what they are putting into their body, both from a hydration and nutrition standpoint. We’re always looking to try to do what is best for our players in that area.”

    Not sure who initiated the change--whether it was the Texans or Anding. Certainly, Anding knows that the player's bodies are their business and has been supportive of getting players to eat better for optimal performance, particularly in Houston heat.

    It sounds like in many areas, the Texans are evaluating what they do to see how it can be improved. Some of these things may end up meaning something, and some may end up being change for sake of change, and it will be very difficult for those on the outside to tell the difference.

    Anding is still listed on the Texans website as the "Team Dietician Consultant." Who and how she is replaced is not known as of today. (5/17).

  • Am I misguided to be excited about Jerrell Powe? What has he shown so far? Could he be a part time starter, or sub inside on pass rushes?

  • Hard to evaluate Powe properly without real games, but Powe is going to need to be better than he ever has been. Just due to lack of traditional options at NT. Nix has been out after getting arthroscopic surgery on his knee before camp. At this point, he is likely to be a part time starter just because there aren't other good candidates.