20 Thoughts: O’Brien, music, OTAs

20 Thoughts: O’Brien, music, OTAs
May 31, 2014, 5:30 pm
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The Texans finished their first round of OTAs on Thursday and will be back on the field Monday for the first of three days next week. The following week, they’ll have four days of OTAs and the week after that, they’ll have a mandatory minicamp.

Here are 20 random (mostly Texans) thoughts:

1. Andre Johnson said he wasn’t going to show up at OTAs. He didn’t. He also said he wouldn’t show up at the mandatory minicamp, so we’ll have to wait and see when that comes on June 17.

2. One of the most fun things to watch during the first three days of OTAs was the way Bill O’Brien and his staff coaches. O’Brien has a super hands-on approach. He goes from position group to position group to give some tips. He even gets in involved in special teams drills; so do his other coaches.

3. In that regard, the way O’Brien runs practice is much different than Gary Kubiak. (Not saying it’s any better or worse.) Kubiak observed practice and, for the most part, let his coaches do most of the teaching, at least on the field.

4. The one thing Kubiak and O’Brien have in common? They both play music during practice. Kubiak started to use music last season and O’Brien has used it three days into OTAs. The music isn’t just for fun. It serves a purpose. It’s to help the players work on their communication. It also probably helps get the temp of practice moving quicker. And interesting thought about the music: last year one Texan said it was harder to communicate with the music playing than with pumped in crowd noise. The players had to block out the words, which was even tougher if it was a song they enjoyed.

5. It is pretty funny, though, that the team is using O’Brien’s personal iPod during practice. He said he has about 350 songs on it and puts it on shuffle. I’ve thought about this and I could never do it with my iPod. I’d probably have some embarrassing guilty pleasure song come on.

6. This is pretty awesome. Deepi Sidhu from HoustonTexans.com created a Spotify playlist of O’Brien’s songs from practice. As of now, it has 22 songs and it’ll probably grow. It features everything from Pearl Jam to Sean Paul to Jay Z.

7. During the draft, after the first three picks, all I could think was this: Can’t they draft players with names I can spell? Don’t worry I have since figured out Jadeveon Clowney, Xavier Su’a-Filo and C.J. Fiedorowicz. And then they helped me by taking Louis Nix and Tom Savage with the next two.

8. There was something called DigiFest at the House of Blues next to our newsroom on Saturday. I only know this because there were about a billion squealing teenage girls around the GreenStreet complex. What is DigiFest? As best as I can tell, it’s a traveling show featuring the most popular stars from YouTube and Vine. Really? Really.

I’m old.

9. Texans rookie Xavier Su’a-Filo can’t yet be at OTAs because he had to go back to UCLA to finish his finals. UCLA is a school that runs on a quarters system. Ohio State and Stanford are examples of some others. The NFL has a rule that underclassmen who get drafted must finish their finals before getting to the NFL team (they’re allowed to go to rookie minicamp). The Texans aren’t the only team dealing with it but it still kind of stinks for them. Su’a-Filo is a guy who will probably be a starter and he’s going to miss most of OTAs. O'Brien said he's confident Su'a-Filo will be able to catch up when he returns.

10. Best songs from O'Brien's playlist: So Lonely by the Police, Alive by Pearl Jam and Hard Knock Life by Jay Z.

Worst songs: We Be Burnin' by Sean Paul and Yeah by Joe Nichols.

11. The Texans have 12 wide receivers on their 90-man roster. They’ll probably keep just five or six on the 53-man roster. So they’ll take Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, DeVier Posey, Keshawn Martin … then it gets interesting. The final one or two spots will be up for grabs. (By the way, many aren’t Martin fans and I understand that but I think he’ll be on the roster.)

The other receivers battling for the final one or two spots: Mike Thomas, Alan Bonner, Alec Lemon, EZ Nwachukwu, Lacoltan Bester, Anthony McClung, Travis Labhart and Kofi Hughes.

12. One of the more interesting position battles we'll need to watch at training camp will be at safety. Either Chris Clemons or Kendrick Lewis will start next to D.J. Swearinger. And right now, Lewis is in the lead. Swearinger said Lewis has been lining up with him so far, which makes sense. Lewis played for Crennel in Kansas City so he probably understands the defense better than Clemons right now.  

13. Best hair on the Texans: Ricardo Mathews. He’s gonna be hot in August.

14. While watching OTA practices, all I can think about is that I can’t wait for training camp, when these guys actually get to, ya know, play football. Right now, they are allowed to wear helmets but can’t even wear shells yet. It’s not really football. And the players, especially the hitters, look forward to getting the pads on to hit in camp. The most fun parts of training camp are the 1-on-1 battles, corners vs. wideouts and offensive linemen vs. defensive linemen. By the way, all practices are filmed so if the NFLPA thinks a team isn’t following the no-contact rules, the team can get in trouble and be punished by losing valuable practice time.

15. If the Astros keep playing as well as they have in the last week, Houston is going to be a lot more fun this summer.

16. It’ll be interesting to see how last year’s draft picks who went on IR will perform this year. There were four draft picks on IR last year: Brennan Williams (third round), Trevardo Williams (fourth), David Quessenberry (sixth) and Alan Bonner (sixth). Amazingly, the two sixth-rounders probably have a better shot to make the team this year. Brennan Williams still isn’t practicing after knee surgery last year and Trevardo Williams, after practicing for two days, didn’t practice on Thursday. Remember, the Texans cut Chris Jones and Sam Montgomery (both a part of the draft class) last year.

17. Undrafted tight end Anthony Denham from Utah has a pretty incredible story that’s worth checking out.

18. If you guys didn't watch the spelling bee on ESPN on Thursday, promise me you'll watch it next year. It's unreal. I would need them to define the words in the definition of the words they're supposed to spell. My favorite word: augenphilologie. Definition: linguistics that misrepresents the realities of speech because of overemphasis on writing.

See what I mean?

19. How was 50 Cent’s first pitch that bad? It doesn’t make any sense how a grown human being can’t throw a ball straight. I’m not saying you need to throw a strike or even reach the plate but how about practicing a little bit? It’s mind-boggling.

20. Think O’Brien will take music requests next week?

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