For once, coach re­ally set at piv­otal po­si­tion

Houston Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - JEROME SOLOMON Com­men­tary

June football is se­ri­ous football. In Canada. In the U.S., NFL play­ers are run­ning around in shorts try­ing not to get hurt.

The Tex­ans wrapped up their off­sea­son pro­gram Wed­nes­day with their last on-the-field work­out be­fore they re­port to train­ing camp in West Vir­ginia in July. The good news is no­body got hurt.

Every snap counts, Bill Belichick says, and that is why we can say these prac­tice prac­tices — OTA and mini­camps — have mean­ing.

The prob­lem with the NFL off­sea­son, for those who put stock into it, is we only hear about the pos­i­tives.

If you fol­low the pro­pa­ganda out of the Tex­ans’ camp in re­cent weeks, life is all good. Very good, in fact.

Don’t de­bate it. The Tex­ans have a solid ros­ter. That’s why Bill O’Brien sounds con­fi­dent.

The first time a coach says his team isn’t up to par at this point in the year would be a first. There aren’t a host of ath­letes walk­ing around who could make an NFL team bet­ter, so the re­al­iza­tion that you are who you are is easy to ac­cept.

Ob­servers are chal­lenged with de­ter­min­ing just how ex­ag­ger­ated the lies are. Tick­ets sales would take a dive if coaches and gen­eral man­agers spewed noth­ing but truth.

O’Brien did a June swoon by say­ing al­most noth­ing but good things about Ryan Fitz­patrick, Brian Hoyer, Brock Osweiler and Tom Sav­age.

Year after year, the Tex­ans had a start­ing quar­ter­back O’Brien claimed could get it done. Year after year, each turned out to be ex­tremely re­place­able.

Since he was hired be­fore the 2014 sea­son, O’Brien hasn’t had one start­ing QB who didn’t ad­versely af­fect his mid­sum­mer nights’ sleep pat­tern.

Yeah, in most of his pre­vi­ous years, O’Brien and the Tex­ans knew who the start­ing quar­ter­back would be, but they weren’t nearly as com­fort­able as they pre­tended to be.

Hav­ing De­shaun Wat­son, the Tex­ans’ present and fu­ture at quar­ter­back, run­ning the show is a wel­come change. His re­turn from a torn ACL hasn’t been an is­sue.

“I know what he ex­pects from me, and he knows what I ex­pect from him,” O’Brien said in re­sponse to a ques­tion about the plus of hav­ing a set start­ing QB. “There’s a lot to be said for get­ting into more of a nor­mal rou­tine, no doubt it.”

O’Brien is more likely hint­ing he be­lieves in Wat­son and the sec­ond-year QB’s growth.

Sav­age was with the Tex­ans for a few years be­fore he was named the start­ing QB. O’Brien hoped for the best, but knew what to ex­pect from him.

It wasn’t any­where near good enough.

Football in June doesn’t tell us what will hap­pen in Septem­ber, when the sea­son be­gins, or in De­cem­ber, when the reg­u­lar sea­son ends.

Football in June isn’t re­ally football, but it is a nec­es­sary el­e­ment in prepa­ra­tion for the sea­son.

“I think we ac­com­plished a lot for what we were able to do out here — in the class­room, in the weight room and in the cafe­te­ria,” O’Brien said. “The guys have re­ally done a good job of un­der­stand­ing what we’re try­ing to get done, and I be­lieve we’ve laid a good foun­da­tion for train­ing camp.” That’s when it be­gins. “We’ve been go­ing at this for nine weeks,” O’Brien said. “It’s re­ally im­por­tant for these guys to con­tinue to, ob­vi­ously, work out, stay in shape, work on the things that we ask them to im­prove on com­ing out of this camp. Eat right and just be ready to go on July 25th.”

Wat­son, who is com­ing off knee surgery, says he is good to go. And it ap­pears that way if you see him work­ing out after prac­tice — when al­most all of his team­mates are gone — run­ning, cut­ting and han­dling the op­pres­sive heat.

With Wat­son at full strength, the Tex­ans should field one of the most dy­namic of­fenses in the NFL.

And, no, that isn’t just June talk. jerome.solomon@chron.com twit­ter.com/jeromesolomon

Brett Coomer / Hous­ton Chron­i­cle

Tex­ans quar­ter­back De­shaun Wat­son has by all in­di­ca­tions dis­played dur­ing OTAs and mini­camp that he has re­cov­ered from an ACL in­jury to his right knee suf­fered more than eight months ago.

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