The Falcons are here.
The Falcons are HERE!
Once you're in Groundhog Day mode, aka Training Camp Day Number whatever, everything is the same.
As I've walked the hallways each day, I've typically seen the same people. Texans security hammers Emmett Baylor and Khalil Reed (and I'm joking a bit about hammers because they're two of the best guys I've met over here).
A few of the chefs from the cafeteria.
The equipment guys.
The football ops crew.
But, this morning, I saw two young guys wearing Falcons gear and it hit me then and there that it was going to be a little different Groundhog Day, if you catch my drift.
Here are my 30 observations from the first day of practice with the Falcons in Houston.
1. I just happened to walk over the bridge today with former Texans QB T.J. Yates. To say he was warmly received by everyone on the way to the practice field would be the understatement of the day. Yates greeted staff and fans all the way to the third field where the Falcons were working out. Sign of respect on both sides and really cool to see.
3. About ten minutes into practice, almost as if in a Hollywood script, two red jerseys strolled in from the gate: WR Roddy White and WR Julio Jones. There's fashionably late and there's making an entrance and this was both and then some. A slow walk from the gate through the media to the second field and they didn't even make it to the third field before the horn blew for period two.
4. What Jones and White both missed was a
5. The practice was choreographed nicely with both teams getting individual and team walkthrough work on their own, but then competing against one another for 9-on-7 inside run drill, 1-on-1 pass rush drills, 1-on-1 DB/WR drills, 7-on-7 and team periods.
6. During 9-on-7 inside run drill, the Texans defensive line held the point of attack well, as it did last Saturday night v. Arizona.
8. Falcons RT Jake Matthews, former Aggie, is going to be one of the better draft picks from this 2014 draft class. His technique is spot on and he plays angrier than his perpetual smile would indicate.
9. The last two days were the first in which we've seen ILB
10. The aforementioned Young is getting the attention of the coaches and continues to make plays during drills. He filled the A gap on a power run in 9-on-7 on his first rep then ran through on the backside on the next one to get involved on the tackle. Since the pads have gone on, he's been a much different player...in a good way, of course.
11. If there was a five-star player of the day, it would almost unanimously be CB AJ Bouye. Throughout the day, he was matched up on Falcons Pro Bowl WR White but the aggressive Texan won most of those matchups. He fought for positioning on a curl route to break up one pass. Later, he trailed White in man coverage and knocked away a throw from QB Matt Ryan. In 7-on-7, he ripped another one away from White, unfortunately taking him to the ground in the process. I've said this for a couple of years now, he's not scared, he won't back off and he loves this challenge.
14. I didn't get to see many pass rush 1-on-1s but the few that I did see
15. The one that I wanted to see more than anyone though was Mr. Reality TV himself Kroy Biermann and
Uhh, clear winner? Mr. Newton.
Biermann tried to power through Newton and then rip to the outside. He went nowhere. Newton's technique can wane when he gets pressed by smaller, quicker ends but it looked flawless against Biermann.
17. During the Texans offensive team session, TE
18. To that point, the ball didn't hit the ground for the first eight plays and as soon as I wrote that down on my paper...pick.
19. Then the Falcons O got on the field against the first Texans defense. I mentioned this in my notes about
20. The theme during that first Falcons offensive series was the lack of time Ryan had to throw the football due to the rush. The Texans coverage was better during that period than it had been to that point. Wonder why?
21. Later in that drill when both sets of twos came on the field, Texans CB
22. When the ones came back on the field, White again struggled to free himself from Bouye on a crossing route.
23. These practices against a strong QB/WR combination will help Texans S
24. I didn't see much of 2-on-2 stunt pass protection, but one rep I saw from nearly 80 yards away,
25. Oh, lest I forget, that's a bad, bad man. A Falcons tackle tried to block Watt on an inside run during team. Watt shocked the OL with both hands, then shed the tackle with one arm and form tackled the RB at the LOS. I can't put into words how difficult that is against another 300 pound man. He did it like a senior does to a third team freshman in high school. Just unreal.
26. One area that does concern me with the Texans defense is down the seam, deeper down the field. The Cardinals hit a big route behind
27. One rookie that I failed to mention during Texans All-Access Rookie Wrap-up was OLB
29. Both teams finished the day on late game, end of game situations with touchdowns. DeAndre Hopkins got one for the Texans after a short drive, while Ryan hit Douglas for a magnificent catch on the first play of the drill to end the practice.
30. All in all, the team that wore white (the Texans) was different, much different than the team that wore white last Saturday night. The offense was much more crisp, not perfect, but the execution was better. The defense, in particular, some young defensive backs and the defensive front, was physical, smart and aggressive. Different in every way, shape and form and a good sign.