Minicamp Day 3 Notes: Ben Jones, Texans hero

Minicamp Day 3 Notes: Ben Jones, Texans hero
June 19, 2014, 3:00 pm
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Ben Jones made his first NFL start on Oct. 21 against the Baltimore Ravens.

(USA Today Images)

Texans players probably didn’t need another reason to like jolly offensive lineman Ben Jones.

But Jones gave them one anyway.

Shortly after the beginning of Thursday’s mandatory minicamp practice, Jones became a hero to his teammates (and media members baking in the sun). He ended practice early. Head coach Bill O’Brien sent the 308-pound lineman back to receive a punt from kicker Chris Boswell. If he caught it, practice would end early.

Why did O’Brien pick Jones?

“I don’t know,” Jones said. “I bet he was trying to pick me because he didn’t think I was gonna catch it.”

Well then, Jones proved him wrong.

Boswell didn’t get off a good punt and the ball was fluttering short, when a surprisingly spry Jones ran up, slid on his knees and caught the ball before it hit the ground. He got up, threw the ball in celebration and his teammates surrounded him. After that, cancer-stricken offensive lineman David Quessenberry briefly talked to the team and practice was over.

“I think these guys have put in a lot of time, they really have,” O’Brien said. “We had the early start because we’re a new staff and you really can’t ask much more for this time of the year. They’ve worked extremely hard. We’ve thrown a lot of information at them. I think we even got some things done today. We had a good meeting and a good walkthrough and it was time to take a little break.”

If Jones wasn’t able to catch the ball, 331-pound nose tackle Jerrell Powe would have gotten a shot at it. Powe was pretty confident that he would have caught the ball if it came down to it.

School’s out for summer
The Texans finished up their three-day minicamp on Thursday. It was the final day of 13 practices, including OTAs and the minicamp. The team won’t be all together again for over a month, when training camp starts.

“It’s a crucial time,” O’Brien said about the break. “It’s really for the players, it is interesting, it’s not really a vacation time. They need to make sure that they stay in condition, that they stay knowledgeable with the playbook, stay strong and do the things necessary to come back here in the best shape of their lives. They know that. These guys, especially the guys that have been around, they’re pros and they understand that.”

O’Brien said he and the other coaches would meet on Thursday afternoon before going their own ways. The coaches will be thinking about football but will get some time to spend with their families.

He advised the rookies to “be around quite a bit” during the time off.

“Just trying to get better,” said Ben Jones, who’s entering his third year, about the break. “You got four weeks to get better and that’s the whole point, getting ready for camp and coming back in the best shape and getting better every day.”

The new guy
The return for quarterback T.J. Yates wasn’t at practice yet on Thursday. Yates and linebacker Akeem Dent have to pass physicals before the deal goes through.

But here’s what O’Brien said about his new player:

“Akeem Dent is a guy that has played a lot of football in Atlanta,” O’Brien said. “I think he played in like 47 games. He’s going to come in here and battle at the inside linebacker spot and also on special teams. We’re looking forward to seeing what he does in training camp.”

Quote of the Day: “I was jogging and he called me over. I was like ‘oh lord, what is it?’ It worked out.” – Ben Jones before he caught the practice-ending punt

Awesome Observation of the Day (In lieu of the Stupid Observation of the Day): It was awesome to watch as the players noticed, one-by-one, that Quessenberry was on the practice field. There were a lot of Texans who had their faces light up.