HOUSTON -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Houston Texans training camp.
As the Texans' offense got set before a play during 11-on-11 drills, coach Bill O'Brien stopped them and screamed that all the skill players had to sprint to the sideline and back. Their punishment for not knowing where to be more quickly. "I would say we were intense today and we were competitive, but we weren’t as sharp as we need to be," O'Brien said after practice.
Practice ended with a series of sprints for players. But before they did them, O'Brien had a message: "You want to know how to win? Listen to me." One coach actually participated in the sprints -- no surprise it was linebackers coach Mike Vrabel, who sometimes looks like he could still play if he wanted. Rookie Lonnie Ballentine, the last pick in the draft this May, had to re-run one sprint all by himself. While he did it, he had the support of fans in the bleachers who shouted his name as he did it.
Every Texans player who participated passed the team's conditioning test. This was pleasing but not surprising to O'Brien, who said the team is in much better shape now than they were April 7, when the team's offseason conditioning program began. He's happy with their conditioning, but says he still needs to get the players into playing shape. So far they haven't put full pads on. During the outdoor practice that lasted from 8 a.m. to about 10:30 a.m., the heat got to a few players who had to go into the training area in the Texans' practice bubble.
The music was loud and so was O'Brien. That's not unusual for practices, but Andre Johnson hasn't been through it before. Johnson loved it. In fact, he began his answers to consecutive questions about O'Brien's demeanor with, "I love it." Specifically on how loud O'Brien is, Johnson said this: "It’s great. I think it’s something that was needed around this place. I’m excited about it."
Two players left the field on a cart after being checked out on the sideline during practice. Receiver Alan Bonner, who spent his rookie season on injured reserve, appeared to strain a hamstring. Cody White, a third-year guard, went down during an 11-on-11 drill. He needed help to get up and then hopped off the field, putting no pressure on his right leg.