Head coach Gary Kubiak said he liked the competition at practice – the defense would win a period, then the offense would win a period, back and forth throughout. Kubiak also said he’s excited to see some of the Texans’ second- and third-year players “really starting to do some good things” on the field.
“There’s some guys really jumping at me,” he said. “When I look at Trindon Holliday starting to look like a wide receiver out here, he’s making plays. I think (tight end) Garrett Graham is doing some good things. The defensive side of the ball, I look at (outside linebacker Bryan) Braman and how far he’s come in such a short period of time, and also (defensive back) Torri Williams. What we’re going to eventually be (as a team) will probably have a lot to do with how many of those types of guys step up and all of a sudden become real good pros, so we’ll see.”
It’s an interesting group of players that Kubiak listed. Let’s take a closer look at them:
- Holliday is the team’s smallest player at 5-5, 170. He’s also probably the team’s fastest player, with official electronic times of 4.34 seconds in the 40-yard dash and 10.0 in the 100 meters. He was drafted in the sixth round in 2010 primarily for his return prowess, since he barely played receiver at LSU. After spending his rookie year on injured reserve, he spent most of last season on the Texans’ practice squad. Kubiak has said time and again that Holliday will need to show he can help the team as more than just a returner, and it sounds like he’s on his way doing just that.
- Graham is entering his third season out of Wisconsin. A fourth-round pick in 2010, he has drawn favorable comparisons to fellow former Badger (and Texans fourth-round pick) Owen Daniels but has rarely seen the field in his first two years, in part because of injuries. At the NFL Scouting Combine in February, Kubiak said the biggest thing for Graham is to stay healthy and called this a “huge offseason” for him. James Casey is currently the Texans’ number two tight end and starting fullback, but Graham has a clear chance at more playing time this year with Joel Dreessen now on the Denver Broncos.
- Braman (6-5, 246) made the team last year as an undrafted rookie out of West Texas A&M. He’s a gifted athlete who had some off-field issues in college; the Texans took a chance on him based on the recommendation of defensive assistant Bobby King, who coached him at West Texas. Braman turned heads in the preseason last year with his pass-rushing ability and unique off-field story, and he was one of the Texans’ best special teams players in 2011. This play pretty much sums him up.
- Williams (6-2, 210) has been playing cornerback in OTAs. He was listed at free safety for the last two seasons. He played both positions in college at Purdue – corner in his final two seasons in 2008-09 and safety from 2004-07 (he had six years of eligibility after season-ending injuries in 2005 and 2006). Undrafted in 2010, Williams was activated from the practice squad for one game as a rookie before suffering a season-ending hamstring injury. In 2011, he was released in the Texans’ final roster cuts in the preseason but re-signed to the practice squad a month later. The Texans did not sign a veteran corner after losing Jason Allen in free agency to the Cincinnati Bengals, so there could be room for Williams to push for a roster spot.
Tags: Bobby King, Bryan Braman, Garrett Graham, Gary Kubiak, James Casey, Organized Team Activities, Owen Daniels, Torri Williams, Trindon Holliday
Posted in Nick Scurfield | 1 Comment »
Aside from an injury update on wide receiver Andre Johnson and defensive end Antonio Smith, here are the highlights
- The Texans ranked 30th in defense last season. As of Monday, they rank No. 1 in 2011 under new coordinator Wade Phillips. “It’s just been fun to watch,” Kubiak said. “I didn’t know it until this morning until I walked in and saw the league stats, but there’s a long way to go and a lot of big football games to play. But the job that he’s done and (linebackers coach) Reggie (Herring) and (assistant head coach/defensive line) Bill (Kollar), (defensive backs coach) Vance (Joseph), (defensive assistant) Bobby (King), (assistant defensive backs coach) Perry (Carter), they’ve done a tremendous job. The players have just bought into what we’re doing and they’re playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
- Kubiak said the defense has gotten better each week since opening day. “The reason we’re getting better is to watch these young players get better — watch J.J. Watt get better; watch Brooks Reed get better,” Kubiak said. “Troy Nolan comes in and plays well. (Brian) Cushing, we know the level he’s playing at. DeMeco (Ryans) is getting back to full health. DeMeco played really good yesterday. The key is toward the back end of the season you want to win every week, but are you getting better as a football team? Right now, we’re doing that.”
- The secret to the defense’s turnaround under Phillips? Pressure. “Going against Wade for years as an offensive coach, he does a hell of a job of busting protections,” Kubiak said. “Being able to bust people’s protection schemes and get heat on the quarterback is the key in this league… He does a lot of things, and our guys have responded and done a good job of learning it at a very quick pace.” Kubiak also said that the acquisition of cornerback Johnathan Joseph has been key to the Texans’ success so far this season.
- As fullback James Casey works back toward 100 percent from a chest injury, fullback Lawrence Vickers continues to carve out a role in the Texans’ offense. “Lawrence has come in and boy, has he played well,” Kubiak said. “That’s the third week he’s started and that’s the best he’s played. You guys see how we run the ball here lately, so you got to give him a lot of credit along with our guys up front. Lawrence has taken to what we’re trying to teach and do. We ask our fullback to do a lot in our offense and it takes some time, and he’s really starting to take to it. He’s playing very well. James is OK… He needs to continue to get a week or two under his belt where he continues to come out of the game healthy… We’ll need them both before we’re all said and done, but Lawrence has taken advantage of an opportunity. That’s probably the best way for me to put it.”
Tags: Bill Kollar, Bobby King, Brian Cushing, Brooks Reed, DeMeco Ryans, Gary Kubiak, J.J. Watt, James Casey, Johnathan Joseph, Kubiak day-after pressers, Lawrence Vickers, Perry Carter, Reggie Herring, Troy Nolan, Vance Joseph, Wade Phillips
Posted in Nick Scurfield | 4 Comments »
Braman has made a big impression in training camp with his pass-rushing skills, relentless motor and sky-high intensity. He had six tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble in the preseason opener against the Jets. He was swarmed by the local media after morning practice at the Methodist Training Center on Thursday.
Why? Aside from his intriguing talent on the field, Braman has quite the story off of it.
He was undrafted after a college career that started at Idaho, continued at Long Beach City College and finished at West Texas A&M. The Texans signed him based on the recommendation of defensive assistant Bobby King, Braman’s defensive line coach at West Texas in 2009. Here’s a rundown of what happened before that, via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle:
Before general manager Rick Smith offered him a contract, Braman, 24, worked for Abercrombie & Fitch in Los Angeles, modeled, attended some casting calls, got kicked out of West Texas A&M for manufacturing psilocybin (a hallucinogen) and worked as a bouncer in Amarillo and College Station.
Braman… said he gets his size from a 7-4, 460-pound grandfather and disclosed that he keeps his dreadlocks that were cut by teammates at West Texas in a plastic bag.
And there’s more. Braman was raised by a single mother in Spokane, Wash. He’s an athletic freak who, as a 6-5 track standout in high school, ran the 100 meters in 11.1 seconds, posted a high jump of 6-9 and had a 21-foot long jump.
There have been plenty of anecdotes floating around Reliant Stadium during camp about Braman’s intensity and burning desire to make the team. One involves a story about his first practice, on the first day of camp. Braman didn’t have insoles in his team-issued cleats, and he practiced without them because he didn’t want to bother anyone on the equipment staff.
“I didn’t know how to handle it because I’m not used to being able to just get new stuff all the time,” Braman said on Thursday. “I didn’t want to get in trouble and tell anybody, so I just practiced without the insoles. I talked to one of the players, one of the vets, (after practice) and he told me that I’d be able to take care of it. So it was kind of funny, the guys kind of laughed at me about it because they would never do that, but I was just ready go and happy to be out here. It didn’t matter what I was wearing or the quality of the equipment was in.”
It’s exactly that type of attitude that has made Braman one of the most talked-about players in Texans training camp.
Tags: Bobby King, Bryan Braman
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