The Houston Texans kicked off their three rookie day-mini camp on Friday at the Methodist Training Center. Players arrived in Houston Thursday to take their headshots for the NFL, fitted for equipment and have a crash course in NFL life with meetings with team personnel and coaches.
The Texans took the field on Friday and here are some observations from the opening of rookie-mini camp.
Rookie Mini-Camp Observations Day One
Kahale Warring what's the clear-cut winner of day one at Texans rookie minicamp. Warring showed his athletic ability to separate and over power linebackers in coverage creating clear windows for the quarterbacks to throw him the football. Like most rookies, Warring has to learn how to finish plays and be consistent when the ball is in the air. The most exciting part of Warring's game is the fact that he has not played much football in his career, but he was the most dominating presence on the field during rookie minicamp.
There will be plenty of discussion on where Tytus Howard's selection in the NFL Draft and if it was worth it for the Texans. Howard showed good footwork and pass protection going against Davin Bellamy throughout the practice seeing Howard's movement skills were assuring and it showed his athleticism that he possesses or left tackle there's a long way to go for Howard especially when pads are put on, but it was a strong showing for the athletic left tackle.
Max Scharping looks like an offense lineman nothing flashy but a consistent presence in everything he does on the football field. He has some small technical aspects he needs to correct, his stance, pass protection drops and cleaning up his hands. Despite those minor issues, they are easy to adjust, and that alone should help Scharping handle the NFL game. Scharping handled pass protection duties well from the right tackle position and kept his quarterback clean during the team sessions of practice.
Xavier Crawford had a rough first day of rookie minicamp having trouble with change of direction covering receivers. Crawford gave up too many receptions to opposing wide receivers. Crawford learned that NFL receivers have the advantage on offense, so Crawford is going to have to bounce back after a slow start on day one. Speed and quickness are there for Crawford as a defender, and it showed on the field. The rookie cornerback is going to have to refine his technique before the veterans show up for OTA's. The competition is going to improve on the other side of the football and test Crawford even further.
It is clear that Texans GM Brian Gaine wanted to improve the size and the secondary. Lonnie Johnson Jr. does precisely that with his 6-foot-2 frame end it shows when he covers much smaller wide receivers. Johnson showed the ability to muscle up receivers at the line of scrimmage and most importantly show that he can turn and run and cover ground and close windows in a hurry if receivers get past him. Johnson is not like any cornerback that the organization has ever had before a tall, rangy well-built defensive back that shows he can run with faster wide receivers.
Cullen Gillaspia for a seventh-round selection is more athletic than most of his counterparts on the field. Gillaspia showed his ability to get out on pass routes and be a reliable target for the quarterback. Where his athleticism showed, the most was during special-teams drills watching him weave in and out obstacles and dummies showing that he can accelerate in and out of breaks. Gillaspia has a clear shot at making this roster as long as he continues to develop as a fullback heading into training camp. His real test will come when the pads are put on and he has to lead block against NFL caliber players.
It is hard to tell until pads come on to see how well offense lineman, defensive lineman, linebackers and running backs do in a football setting mainly a passing Camp those players are tough to evaluate without them in their element.
Safety Chris Johnson, a rookie free-agent, showed that he has the awareness and smarts to make it in the NFL. Johnson was directing traffic and lining up the defense when the offense gave them looks and the defense scrambled to line up correctly. It was Johnson helping other defenders to understand where they needed to align based on the offense. Johnson revealed the ability to cover backs out of the backfield and close on the target in a hurry when the ball was in the air. Johnson has work to do, but with depth, at the safety position behind their first three veterans, there is a chance for Johnson to crack the 53 man roster if he continues like he did day one.
Wide receiver Johnny Dixon was able to show his speed and quickness and how much pressure he can put on a defense in the passing game. Dixon was able to get across the field on routes and beat defenders to their spot to open up substantial passing windows for the quarterbacks to work it. Dixon showed good hands and steady route running ability to get open and make himself an available target. Dixon will be in a battle for potentially the final roster spot for the wide receiver depth chart. Wide receiver Tyron Johnson also showed he could stretch the field and catch the ball at a higher rate. Johnson played in past happy offenses in college, and it shows on the field with his route running ability.
The Texans brought Lonnie Johnson Jr.'s roommate Derek Baity Jr. from Kentucky as a rookie free-agent. Baity Jr. is a similar height and frame to Johnson with similar skill sets. With the Texans looking for cornerbacks Baity Jr. is an intriguing option for the taxes to get an extended look on heading to training camp.
Inside linebacker, Dexter Wright was able to show some good play in coverage breaking up a pass intended for a tight end running up the seam. It is always essential to have linebackers who can show coverage skills and Wright was a clear standout in that department on Friday.
A tryout player who made a strong impression was cornerback Jalen Embry. He showed good awareness to be in a position to make plays, especially if there were pads on. Embry was closing in on receivers in a hurry after the ball found receivers hands and he had a near interception on route breaking to the sideline.
The Texans had first-year players who were on the roster out with the rookies during minicamp.
- WR Steven Mitchell Jr.
- WR Jester Weah
- S A.J. Hendy
- OLB Davin Bellamy
- OT Rick Leonard
- OT David Steinmentz
The Texans invited 14 tryout players to rookie minicamp.
- QB Jay Christophe (Texas Southern)
- QB Jordan Ta'Amu (Ole Miss)
- RB Dominick Bragalone (Lehigh)
- RB Izzy Matthews (Colorado State)
- WR Floyd Allen (Mississippi)
- TE Seth Hebert (Central Missouri)
- OG Garrett Campbell (Cincinnati)
- OG Tanner Farmer (Nebraska)
- ILB Xavier Woodson-Luster (Arkansas State)
- CB Jalen Embry (Northern Illinois)
- CB Sean Harper (Washington State)
- S Garrett Davis (Houston)
- LS Tyler Heinsma (Mesa State)
- LS Anthony Kukwa (Lake Erie)
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