Texans' Christian Harris, Kamari Lassiter can't wait for training camp

Sand flew through the air at Buffalo Bayou Park in Houston as several NFL and college football players went through a rigorous workout at the direction of defensive backs coach Jacory Nichols.

As Nichols barked out instructions, Texans starting linebacker Christian Harris and rookie cornerback Kamari Lassiter, the defending AFC South champions’ second-round draft pick from Georgia, kicked up sand as they fluidly changed directions during drills intended to boost agility and reaction times.

“Man, great work,” said Harris, who recorded a career-high 101 tackles last season and returned an interception for a touchdown in a playoff victory over the Cleveland Browns. “Great to work on the fundamentals and just get back out here and get used to the heat to get ready for camp. Good to see everybody out here just trying to get better.”

Harris is coming off his best NFL season. He became the seventh player in NFL history to record a pick-six for a touchdown and record a sack in the same playoff game since retired Texans defensive end J.J. Watt did so against the Cincinnati Bengals in 2012. Harris had eight tackles, two for losses against the Browns. He had seven more tackles one for a loss and repeatedly pressured Baltimore Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson in an AFC divisional round playoff loss.

Texans coach DeMeco Ryans has said the “sky is the limit” for Harris, a former third-round draft pick from Alabama who has run the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds.

“All glory to God,” Harris said. “Just stay true to the course and keep working one day at a time. We’ll pick up our head at the end and see where we are.”

Harris and veteran linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, signed to a three-year, $33 million deal after previous stints with the San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans, could be a formidable tandem.

“Man, something crazy,” Harris said. “Honestly, we got something in the works for sure. He’s been working every day. He’s a great vet for me, giving out a whole lot of advice every day. I’m just looking forward to seeing what we can do.”

During offseason practices, Lassiter lined up with the first-team defense on a regular basis. He is competing with veterans Jeff Okudah and C.J. Henderson for the starting cornerback job opposite Derek Stingley Jr.

Lassiter has broken up several passes, including when lined up against Pro Bowl wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

“What I have seen from Kamari is a guy that has been locked in since Day One,” Ryans said. “He has done everything that we’ve asked him to do. Kamari is a guy that doesn’t make the same mistake twice. He is very competitive. He is making plays. He is an instinctive player.

“I think a lot of guys have been fired up to see what he has been able to do over the past couple of weeks. I am excited to see where he is trending. He is trending in the right direction, and I am excited to see how he comes back and where he starts in training camp.”

Drafted 42nd overall, Lassiter yielded the lowest amount of passing yards last season in college football. He did a great job of shadowing first-round wide receivers Malik Nabers (LSU, New York Giants) and Xavier Legette (South Carolina, Carolina Panthers). Now, he’s looking forward to his first NFL training camp.

“I feel really excited,” Lassiter said. “I’m really excited to get to training camp and be back with the guys and just play football and focus on strictly football.

“It was great work. Nice hot day, great group of guys, great instruction. Just happy to be out here and happy to be working.”

Harris and Lassiter were joined in the sand pit by Texans rookie linebacker Jamal Hill, a sixth-round draft pick from Oregon, Indianapolis Colts safety Rodney Thomas, Cincinnati Bengals cornerback. D.J. Turner, Los Angeles Rams safety Russ Yeast, Denver Broncos safety Tanner McCalister, Florida State defensive back Azareye’h THomas, Kentucky defensive back Zion Childress, Western Kentucky cornerback Upton Stout, Central Florida corner Brandon Adams and University of Houston safety A.J. Haulcy.

“We had some guys from all over the place, just a lot of guys and we wanted to get them in a new scenery and work some movements, some game-like movement in the sand,” Nichols said. “My approach for all the guys is if you can come out of the breaks in the sand, then, once you put it on the grass and turf, it should enhance your breaks.

“We did a lot of movement, worked on putting guys in situations where we can have fun and be able to increase our movement on the field. The biggest thing is making this situation family-driven. Since I started it, these guys came in and approached it with a family-like environment. The Texans, I’m a little biased, but this might be the year.”

Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790.

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Cleveland Browns v Houston Texans

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