A new named emerged for the Texans today and it was that of rookie wide receiver, Chris Thompson. Thompson was Deshaun Watson’s go to target today and he made some tough contested catches in team drills. The first reception came on a route towards the boundary. Thompson went up and snagged the pass to get two feet in during a game like situation. The next ball he caught was an over-the-shoulder reception on a well-placed ball from Watson which occurred after Thompson beat his man to the corner of the end zone. Thompson has been quiet to this point but he was the latest of the young wide receivers to make his mark.
Cornerback Bryce Jones is showing some life on the field and it starts with his ability to break on the route and swiftly get to the ball. If there is one thing that the Texans value, it is defensive backs planting their foot on the ground and driving through routes. Jones has slowly been working his craft and making his mark from the technique side of the game.
Ryan Griffin was a pass catching machine today at practice, putting stress on the defense in the middle of the field. He beat both man and zone coverages, opening up a strong target for his quarterbacks. Griffin had issues reeling the ball in earlier in camp but he has evened out his play and become a reliable target once again.
Julién Davenport remains one to watch and it comes with how raw he is at the game. One minute he does not move well in the run game while on the next play, he shows some ability to move the pile. When his technique is good, Davenport demonstrates that he can pass set with the best of them but when the speed is turned up on him, he struggles with his technique and is easy to get past. Davenport is further along than expected, especially in pass protection, and as he gets work at both offensive tackle spots, he looks a little more comfortable on the left side.
Dylan Cole had an interception today in 7-on-7 drills, continuing a strong camp for the rookie. Right now, Cole’s athleticism is making the most difference in pass defense. He is making plays in that department. Cole is a go-getter and it is showing on the field. There is more out there for Cole to display, primarily being consistent in the run game.
The safety group had a strong day and both Andre Hal and K.J. Dillon were solid in pass coverage. Each player had a pass break up against a tight end. Dillon wrestled a ball away after it initially looked like a catch, while Hal impeded a pass for a tight end up the seam after a good play action look from the offense. Hal has been letting some receivers get behind him in the passing game but this was a good sign that Hal could stay on top of this route. There are plenty of questions at the safety position and it is lining up for one of the more intriguing battles of camp.
Kevin Johnson continues to be a physical player and sometimes, he knows how to push the buttons of receivers on the field. Johnson is not afraid of contact and if he has a chance to body up a receiver when they have the football coming to them, he is going to play physical.y. He practices like he plays and that nature gets the defense going. He set the tone early after he hit Braxton Miller catching a pass, stunning him on the sideline. A little talk ensued and the defense rallied around Johnson for the hit. Johnson is the spark plug for the defense and it seems that he always knows how to get the unit dialed in.
Akeem Hunt is an interesting player for the Texans, especially given everything he can do. The Texans like Hunt’s ability to give them a change up on the offensive side of the ball, but his value at the moment lies on special teams, particularly in returning kicks. On the offense, Hunt is utilized more in the passing game out of the backfield and catches the ball at a high level. With a loaded depth chart, Hunt is going to have to show his worth at all levels. The Texans need to get creative with their roster to find a way to keep him, but he has value as a player on game day.
Denzel Rice has been steady in coverage and has had a strong camp. He is not giving up many catches and has a little more speed than expected to get on top of routes. Today, Rice had a vertical route come at him and was able to flip his hips and control the receiver, leaving no room for the quarterback to fit the ball in. Rice is in a battle with Bryce Jones, Dee Virgin, and Marcus Roberson for a spot at cornerback.