Training Camp Tour: Rookie WR Will Fuller, Braxton Miller among standouts at practice
HOUSTON – The weather was humid and cloudy for the start of joint practice between the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints on Thursday. By the end of practice, lightning alarms were sounding and the rain was coming down. The teams used two of the fields at the Texans’ practice facility in the shadow of NRG Stadium, and practiced in front of fans and many family members.
The Texans’ return a strong defensive unit in 2016, and it did not disappoint on Thursday. The action is always somewhat limited in practices, which can make it difficult at times to evaluate the big bodies up front, but Houston’s front-seven looked impressive. The Texans’ secondary was communicating well with each other and appeared to have a good command of the defense. However, the real story of Houston’s 2016 season won’t revolve around the play of its defense, but rather the performance of the offense.
The Texans invested a considerable money and draft capital in their offense, and it looks to be improved with their new additions. Quarterback Brock Osweiler looked sharp Thursday for the most part, but had a few passes batted down by defenders. Running back Lamar Miller showed nice burst and an ability to get the edge on outside runs. The Texans’ wide receiver corps is suddenly much improved, and seems to be gelling with their new quarterback. Rookie wide receiver Will Fuller and slot receiver Braxton Miller should help to create space for DeAndre Hopkins to operate. Fuller was drafted for his deep speed, but scored on an out route in the red zone. Braxton Miller continues his development as a receiver, and was consistently shaking defenders during the practice, scoring on an out route as well. Rookie tight end Stephen Anderson looked good with his fluid releases and speed in and out of his cuts. Anderson could emerge as the receiving threat the Texans need at tight end.
The returning offensive players looked solid, as well, as Hopkins continues to make acrobatic contested catches. Jaelen Strong has also improved during the offseason; he had a nice catch over a defender on a post route during practice, and helps to form a now strong rotation at the wide receiver position. The Texans are banking on all of these pieces coming together to form an offense that can contend in the AFC South.
Other camp notes
– Rookie center Nick Martin left the practice on a cart with his right shoe off.
– OLB Jadeveon Clowney was shook up briefly after a rep and took a knee and talked to a trainer, but appeared to be okay, as he returned to practice.
– Troy Aikman, the former Cowboys’ great and legend in the state of Texas, took in the practice.