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How Ryan Mallett develops better touch with his throws

Yesterday we took an overall look at their process for player evaluations. Today and for the rest of the week we'll take a closer look at the Houston Texans' process for evaluating and coaching quarterbacks.

HOUSTON -- Ryan Mallett's arm strength was never a problem, all the way back to his childhood. Playing catch with his father as a youngster was never easy on his father's hands. He once threw a football on his knees from the 50 yard line through the uprights across the field.

Knowing how to harness that power took time.

Mallett is now competing to be the Texans' starting quarterback against Brian Hoyer, who was Cleveland's starting quarterback for most of last season. Touch is a skill Texans coach Bill O'Brien has seen Mallett work on since 2011 when O'Brien was the Patriots' offensive coordinator and Mallett was a New England rookie quarterback. Touch is one of the many skills of a quarterback that matters to O’Brien -- but it fits into the category of adjustable physical skills.

"He would throw the 20 yard in cut just like he would throw the checkdown … they were both like 90 miles an hour," O'Brien said. “Now when he drops it down to the back, it’s a catchable ball. I think it has to do with footwork and repetition."

His coaches taught him to take some velocity off the ball by throwing on his toes to reduce his arm's power. Mallett practiced throwing to managers and others who weren't professional receivers.

“If they can catch it, I know my guys can catch it,” Mallett said. “It’s just about a feel of the ball and how you release it. … Just gotta know when to use the fastball and when to use the changeup.”

The reps with professional receivers were and are critical, too. Developing a better understanding of each receiver helps him better understand how to throw to each.

"A lot of times I try to get it there as fast as I can, but I don’t need to," Mallett said. "I’ve worked a lot on that. Just reps an reps and more reps. The older you get the more you understand when you need to throw it hard, when you need to throw it soft, who you need to throw it soft too, who can catch it, who can’t, all that stuff."

Doing that can make the quarterback a better teammate as it's also one of the ways he can make his receivers better.

"The quarterbacks can make the receivers better in a lot of ways," O'Brien said. "Post practice work, pre-practice work, what they do between the end of this minicamp and when training camp starts. I think once practice starts, 11-on-11, 7-on-7, it’s being accurate with the ball. Giving them a good ball to catch and putting it where they want it but also I think when the receivers and tight ends and backs, when they go out there and make tough catches for the quarterback, that creates trust."