Sunday was day three of training camp, and the team's first day in shoulder pads. When the pads went on, tempers started to flare.
Pushing and shoving broke out twice Sunday at Texans training camp. But that is not a bad thing, according to Head Coach Gary Kubiak.
"It got a little testy out there this morning. That's a good thing. I thought we were very good, guys competing. But this is when the team really starts to come together, when you're out there banging on each other and guys have got to carry their pads around," Kubiak said. "I just told the players, 'That's why there's all kind of guys that can play this game.' It's not always the fastest, or this or that. There's a spot for everybody, and being able to play in your pads and being a physical player I think has a lot to do with it.
DE J.J. Watt agreed, saying the aggression displayed on the practice field Sunday was a sign of good things to come.
"When you put the pads on, you expect a little bit of fire and a little bit of edge, and I think they definitely showed it. And that's when you know you've got a good group. You've got guys who are hungry and you've got guys who are ready to play," Watt said. "You don't want to go out and have it be like a patty-cake session. You want it to be fiery. You want there to be a little bit of flare-up. And I think it's good. I think it shows the aggression that we have, and I think it shows how ready everybody is."
NT Earl Mitchell said it's all part of the game.
"Yeah, it's physical. That's just the nature of the game. Guys get to push each other around and you've got guys out there you want on your team that's not going to get pushed around. That's just a staple of our defense," Mitchell said. "We're not going to get pushed around."
And then there are the usual suspects when it comes to scuffles.
"You always know a couple guys who are going to be in the scrum, but at the end of the day you never really know. For me, [DE] Antonio [Smith] has got to be in there somewhere, it's just a given. That's who he is and I love it. I love playing next to him, he is a crazy guy," Watt said.
While the public has yet to get their first look at the defending AFC South champs, we have been given an all-access pass. Here's more from our day three coverage:
A CHANGE OF SPEED
The NFL has really changed in the last few years. There have always been fast teams, but there was more of a slowdown approach. Not anymore. It's about snaps.
The Texans do run a lot of plays, but they are a very balanced offense. Last year they learned a lesson against the New England Patriots, who ran more plays than anyone else in the NFL, the loss in the playoffs and the embarrassing Monday Night Football game.
Overall, though, Kubiak was fine with their tempo.
"I thought we worked at a lot of pace last year. We did a lot of sugar-huddle offensively. As a team, it's something that we always have the ability to do," Kubiak said. "On any given day, I think the best way to play that particular team we're playing, we'll have to make a decision there; but we're going to always have pace built in whether we're trying to use it to begin with or in a situation where we've got to use it to get back into a game. It's always going to be part of what we do."
To Kubiak's credit, the Texans were up in most games, so then you do want to slow the game down.
One player not taking part in the workouts is All-Star RB Arian Foster. He's still on the "physically unable to perform"-- or pup list.
Foster deserves a little time off. He has had the biggest workload in the NFL the last few years as the Texans' rock on offense.
This offseason during OTAs -- organized team activities -- he strained his calf.
He can come off the pup list anytime. And honestly, from what we can see in practice, he is moving great but wants to be smart.
"It's just got some light soreness in there. It's nothing. I can do pretty much everything, so I'm just going to take it day-by-day," Foster said. "Sometimes muscle injuries can linger. You can't play through it. It's not like playing through a broken collarbone. I have played through a lot of things, but this is just something you can't and there's no reason to right now. I'm just going to take my time and when I feel 100 percent confident, I'll be ready."
The Texans are in good shape. Foster will be ready soon and they have a capable backup in Ben Tate.
One of the things I love to watch at camp is the battle between the wide receivers and the defensive backs.
Both positions come with guys who have a lot of confidence, so it was fun to watch Jonathan Joseph and rookie Deandre Hopkins go at it Saturday.
J-Jo is the veteran who really changed the complexity of the secondary a couple of years ago when he sighed with the Texans, and Hopkins is the hot shot rookie here to make life easier on Matt Schaub and open up Andre Johnson.
So when the two go at it, the veteran Joseph says it it's all in the name of competition.
"Like I always say, when you are competing with each other, you want to win every play. And, of course, they want to win each and every play," he said. "It's a competition, but it's a friendly competition. We aren't trying to go out there and hurt anyone. It's just about bettering one other."
There are a lot of expectations for Hopkins. And so far, Joseph likes what he sees.
REED MAKING PROGRESS
One of the Texas defensive players that doesn't get a lot of run is LB Brooks Reed. He is soft spoken but plays with a mean streak.
And he is asked to do a lot
The third-year player usually plays on the outside, but he is learning the inside linebacker position as well at this camp.
He has to do that because of some injuries for the Texans, but overall he is showing his versatility -- that he can just play. And he says he's really grown up the last couple of years.
"I feel like I've made tremendous progress," Reed said. "The comfort level is there for me. It's hard for these guys; I see it out of the new draft picks. You go from having your hand down on the ground, not having to know very much and just go after quarterbacks to standing up and having Reggie Herring and Bill Kollar on your back and getting on you about little things. It's a shock at first, but there's time in there where it takes a lot of time to adjust to it."
Last year, Brooks played a little bit injured and missed some time. But he says he feels great he's ready to get going.
PLAYING TIME FOR ROOKIES
Players missing time is part of training camp. But when that happens, it allows young players like San Jose State rookie OL David Quessenberry to play more. And he's making the most of those opportunities.
The right side of the offensive line for the Texans is a work in progress. Derreck Newton and Brennan Williams missed the entire offseason, letting players like Quessenberry to get more reps with the starting unit.
"It's putting a lot of stress on Quessenberry, which that might be a good thing in the long haul. We'll see how far he can come. But we're trying to get those two guys to where they're totally healthy and competing," Kubiak said.
"It's gone really well, I think, getting out here during OTAs gives you a good grasp of the playbook," Quessenberry said. "I'm just out here competing and playing hard and playing fast."
It's not often that a rookie first-round pick has a chance to start, but Quessenberry doesn't think about things like that. He is used to being the underdog.
"I think that comes from being a walk on in college. But, you know, I am here now. I'm with these guys, I am competing and I feel like I belong here," Quessenberry said. "I definitely have a chip on my shoulder just because that's what I always have had. But I feel like I belong here. I belong on this team; I belong on this field to help bring a championship to this city."
If he ends up starting somewhere on the line or not, Quessenberry is going about his business the same way.
"My mentality is just coming out here and competing every day -- day in and out -- every snap, every play," he said. "It doesn't matter to me, you know? I'm just out here to play. I love this game. I love to play it whether inside or outside. It doesn't matter to me. I just love to play."
BULLS ON FIRE
Get ready for the upcoming Texans season with our sports special, "Bulls on Fire." Eyewitness Sports director Greg Bailey and the rest of the Eyewitness Sports crew will get you fired up with a preview of the season and tell you what the team needs to do to reach the Super Bowl.
The special is on ABC13 Sunday, August 4 at 10:35pm. Then, the Texans open preseason play against the Minnesota Vikings on Saturdayp, August 9. The game is in Minneapolis, so if you can't make it to see the game in person, you can watch it live on ABC13. Kickoff is at 7pm.
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