The Texans are now into their second week of Organized Team Activities, and so far all seems to be going according to plan. Even though OTA’s are conducted in just helmets, shirts, and practice jerseys, coaches can still come away with some good information.
Players will participate in some strength and conditioning drills, so right away coaches will have an idea of whether or not the players took care of business during their time off. According to all I’ve heard so far, there aren’t any major problems as far as conditioning goes.
OTA’s are a good time for the new guys to acclimate and show that they are familiarizing themselves with the system. This is obviously crucial for newcomers Brock Osweiler, Lamar Miller, Jeff Allen, Tony Bergstrom, Devon Still, and all of the rookies.
And of course it’s a time for players to get familiar with new teammates and coaches. This is the first time that all 90 guys are hanging out and working together. OTA’s are an important time for coaches and players alike as they look towards training camp in July.
Here are a few takeaways from OTA’s thus far:
Maybe Jaelen Strong gets it now
Last season, rookie wide receiver Jaelen Strong showed up out of shape and immediately was placed in Bill O’Brien’s doghouse. Strong, while at Arizona State, usually kept his playing weight around 215-220 lbs. At 6’2, with 4.4 speed, Strong was able to outrun, outjump, and outmuscle college defenders.
However, Strong reportedly showed up closer to 235 a year ago, and his play suffered as a result. He fell out of the coaches’ favor and had a difficult time getting on the field. Strong played in just 10 games, finishing with 14 receptions, 163 yards, and three scores.
Reports out of OTA’s are that Strong has slimmed down to around 200 lbs. Evidently he got the message. He is slimmer, faster, and making nice catches. This bodes well for Strong, because Will Fuller and Braxton Miller will surely be breathing down his neck. Hopefully Strong makes a big leap this year and is able to complement Hopkins.
Sleeper at tight end?
Coach O’Brien recently discussed the versatility that Houston now boasts at the tight end position. The Texans have suffered from an extreme lack of tight end production in recent years. Any good news about the position is more than welcome.
O’Brien was complimentary of C.J. Fiedorowicz’s (6-5, 265) blocking ability as well as the potential for him to catch a few passes here and there. Ryan Griffin (6-6, 254) is definitely more of a pass catcher, and he showed some flashes last season, but did battle drops at times. Both of these guys can play a role, but neither is particularly dangerous in the passing game.
Perhaps the most exciting news is that of Anthony Denham (6-4, 235) and Stephen Anderson (6-2, 230). Denham is a second year guy out of Utah, while Anderson was signed as an UDFA this spring out of Cal.
Both guys fit the mold of mismatch tight ends because of their size. The can potentially provide a lot of problems for opposing linebackers and safeties. Each has made some nice plays during OTA’s and it will be interesting to see how they progress, and ultimately fit into the system.
Osweiler seems to be on track
Brock Osweiler has looked confident during team activities. He’s throwing the ball well and showing that he truly has been studying the playbook quite extensively. Houston’s new signal caller is already establishing a solid rapport with his receivers, especially Deandre Hopkins.
Osweiler has already come out and stated that he will not join the Broncos trip to the White House because he doesn’t want to miss any practices. I have a feeling he still harbors some bad feelings about being benched after leading Denver to the playoffs. Either way, it’s nice to see his commitment to the Texans.
That’s all for now. I will check back in with more OTA news in the next few days. Stay tuned Texans fans!
Header image based on “Reliant Stadium panorama” by Karen (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)