Texans Training Camp: What Stood Out on Opening Weekend
First impressions are tricky business in NFL training camps. With pads off, contact limited and many veterans still rounding into shape, the cream may not instantly rise.
Photo by Daniel Kramer
Nonetheless, premature analysis comes with the territory during the unofficial start to the NFL season. It's especially the case for the Texans, considering the Astros remain in the midst of possibly the worst season in club franchise history and the Rockets are still two months from reporting to camp.
While intensity will ratchet up this week with the debut of pads, camp officially began Friday and continued with two practices each on Saturday and Sunday. Here's a look at what stood out:
5. Cierre Wood looks here to stay.
With Justin Forsett departing in free agency, the Texans have an opening for a third running back. It looks like the undrafted rookie out of Notre Dame could fill it. Wood isn't the flashiest back in terms of straight-line speed. But much like Arian Foster, Wood delivers quick and decisive cuts along with sudden bursts through the hole, making him an ideal fit for the one-cut, zone-blocking scheme in Houston.
With Foster out to begin training camp due to a calf injury, there are extra opportunities for young running backs. So far, Wood is taking full advantage.
"It's really important to make a great first impression," Wood said. "Every chance you get, you want to make the best of your opportunity. Every snap I get, I'm going 1,000 percent to make sure my assignments are strong and give the coaches no reason at all to doubt my abilities."
Wood split carries at Notre Dame with Theo Riddick, a sixth-round pick for Detroit. That limited Wood's college statistics and exposure, pushing him to the undrafted pool. But one benefit of going undrafted is that those players can pick the team they believe is best suited for them. To that end, Wood says he and the Texans are a perfect match.
"The scheme was a big part of it, because I ran basically the same exact thing in college," he said. "I also thought Texas was a great place for me, and the Texans needed another back."
This year, that need is at the No. 3 spot behind Foster and Ben Tate. But with Tate's contract expiring after the season and the Texans unlikely to commit big money to two running backs, Wood could easily find himself in the No. 2 position by next spring. He'll have to make it out of training camp first, but so far, so good.
"I know I can make this team, and I will make this team," Wood confidently proclaimed.
4. Kareem Jackson continues his growth.
For the first two years of his NFL career, Jackson was the whipping boy. But he made an enormous leap in 2012 to become a dependable starting cornerback, and he's showing no signs of letting up.
In the opening practices of camp, perhaps the most intense offense-defense battle came between Jackson and Andre Johnson on the outside. The fact that Jackson held his own against one of the NFL's all-time great receivers says it all.
"It's good to see because, when I got here, everybody talked about how [Kareem] couldn't play," said fellow cornerback Johnathan Joseph. "But I've seen something in him, and Coach VJ (Vance Joseph) saw it in him as well. It just took a little time and now, look at him. Every day he's out there making plays. It's hard to catch a ball on him."
Nearly as impressive as his on-field play was his demeanor on the sidelines. When his unit wasn't on the field, Jackson consistently hovered around Ed Reed and Danieal Manning, soaking up additional knowledge and pointers from the team's veteran safeties.