The Houston Texans recently concluded their mandatory mini-camp and now have a six-week hiatus until training camp begins. The Texans have become a mature, veteran-laden team that has won the AFC South crown for consecutive years.
There is a quiet confidence in their ability and a confident resolution that better days are soon to come. They know they are capable of being so much better.
Coach Bill O’Brien talked about what he’s looks for in the team’s pre-training camp spring drills, and also noted the presence of rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson.
“You’re looking for good retention of the system and being able to go out on the field and execute it,” O’Brien said. “OTAs [organized team activities] are hard because from a defensive standpoint, you really don’t know what you’re getting on a down-to-down basis.
“And then from a rookie player like Deshaun, you’re just looking for his ability to improve day to day and not make the same mistake twice.”
O’Brien addressed the matter of players having so much unsupervised down time.
“We’ve put a lot of things in place,” he said. “We train our rookies and we have a rookie development program.
“We have people in place here for the next five weeks – our training room, our strength staff. Our training and strength staff will be here to work with these guys every single day – lifting, running, rehabbing. A lot of guys go other places. They train with different people and they get the same type of training at other places. But it’s all about being ready to go on July 25th.”
Veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph explained the prevailing attitude that drives the team in pre-training camp workouts.
“I think what drives everyone on this team, including myself, is trying to get a championship,” Joseph said. “The ultimate goal is to get to the top and win a ring.”
Joseph stressed the importance of managing free time prior to training camp.
“That’s probably the most important time because it’s easy to take care of your business right now while you’re being monitored and while you’re here with the coaches and being around your peers,” Joseph said.
“I think the next month, month and a half while you’re off and while you’re alone to yourself, that’s the hardest time because you have so much free time. Being prepared for training camp is the biggest thing you have to do for yourself to make the team and be as good as you can be as a player in this league.”
Pro Bowl receiver DeAndre Hopkins likes what he has seen from the offense in mini-camp and OTAs, and noted the work of assistant coach Wes Welker and quarterbacks Tom Savage and Watson.
“I’ve been in this offense for going on four years now,” Hopkins said. “Having Wes Welker out here [who’s a former] wide receiver, it helps out a lot to have a guy that knows this offense. To be here every day working with us, it makes a big difference.
“I think with Tom having been in this system for a few years now he is very comfortable and confident. I think everybody has been impressed with Deshaun and his approach to learning and being a leader.”
With a veteran lineup, Hopkins said the team polices itself.
“I think we do a good job here of telling everybody the concerns and worries of being a rookie, being young in the NFL, having a bunch of time on your hands,” he said. “We do a good job here and everybody takes care of everybody. This is a close team and we know what our ultimate goal is.”