Texans' first minicamp day under O’Brien

Texans' first minicamp day under O’Brien
May 6, 2014, 3:15 pm
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There were some subtle differences on the Texans’ practice fields on Tuesday as the team gathered for the first day of a three-day voluntary minicamp on a hot but breezy Houston morning.

There was a nearly an entirely new coaching staff, led by first-year head coach Bill O’Brien. Practice had a more hands-on feel. There were no decals on the helmets, to which O’Brien said to not read into too much. And there plenty of new faces underneath those helmets.

One day down. Many more to go.

“It was good. It was a good day of work,” J.J. Watt said. “I think everybody was working hard and that’s all you can ask for out of the first day.”

O’Brien downplayed the notion that Tuesday was his first day, saying that he’s been working with the guys for a while in coaching sessions but was happy about getting nearly the entire team back on the field for a few days.

Veteran Andre Johnson wasn’t at practice on Tuesday. “It’s voluntary. We just coach who shows up,” O’Brien said.

Running back Arian Foster, who had surgery last season, was on the field and working with the team on Tuesday. Veteran corner Johnathan Joseph didn’t participate but said it was “refreshing” to be back on the field. He had offseason surgery and said there isn’t a timetable for him to return but expects to be ready for the season.

“It was a good start,” said O’Brien who was hired away from Penn State this offseason. “We’ve had them for a little bit so the ability to take it from Phase 1 in the weight room to Phase 2, to the coaching sessions, then now to practice. So we’ve kind of built up to this. And I thought the guys, for the most part, it was a typical first practice but they handled things well.”

This minicamp serves as a chance for the 67 veteran players on the Texans’ roster to get on the field to learn the new systems and new coaches before the draft starts on May 8. After that, there will be new draft picks and then undrafted rookies to help fill up the remaining spots on the 90-man training camp roster. OTAs begin on May 27.

“We want the vets to take a leadership role when the rookies get here and understand how we do practice, the tempo of practice, where the drills are, what’s the offensive field, what’s the defensive field, how we do special teams,” O’Brien said. “It’s definitely important to have these practices with these guys that have played in the pros a little bit and then when the rookies get here, they just get in line and keep their mouths shut and followed the lead.”

It’s going to be a busy week for the Texans at NRG Park. The team practices again on Wednesday and Thursday and the team holds the No. 1 pick in the draft, which starts Thursday evening.

As the head coach, O’Brien is heavily involved in the team’s decision-making process in the draft. When asked if he was happy to get away from that process for a few hours while at practice, O’Brien said he didn’t view it that way. Instead, he said it’s just a part of the job.

“I just think it’s all a part of the day,” he said. “Every coach in America gets up early, comes in, budgets his time properly. There are a lot of new coaches in this league all doing the same thing and we’re just out here trying to get better every day just like our players are.”

But this three-day minicamp that ends on Thursday could affect the way the Texans draft.

“I think you do come out here and you definitely evaluate every position,” O’Brien said. “You evaluate the individual player, then you evaluate the depth at the position. The majority of our 2014 team is more than likely based on the draft and how many rookies are going to make the team, the majority of the team is here on the field so you’re evaluating as it relates to the draft but also as it relates to next year’s team and the depth at each position.”

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