O’Brien hopes progress extends to camp
With a whistle blown and a quick huddle, the Texans wrapped up their final organized practice of the offseason.
Instead of going the allotted three days of field work for a mandatory minicamp, Texans coach Bill O’Brien will have the players come in for meetings Thursday before dismissing them from formal work until training camp in late July.
It was a productive offseason, by all accounts.
Players like quarterback Deshaun Watson got back on the practice field after seasonending injuries in 2017. And O’Brien and his staff continue to install an offense tailored toward Watson’s dual-threat capabilities.
“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.”
The Texans have repeatedly praised new strength and conditioning coach Luke Richesson for the work he has done at improving the players’ fitness and nutrition.
O’Brien intends to emphasize again to the players in a meeting the importance of not losing the progress they’ve made before reporting to training camp at The Greenbrier in West Virginia on July 25.
“I think we’ve made so many gains relative to their conditioning level and their strength levels,” O’Brien said. “What I’ll recommend to them is to keep it going. A lot of guys will stay here and train here, which is a good thing. The guys that don’t, they’ll be ready to go. These guys are pros. They know how to get ready, but we’ve made a lot of gains and we need to keep that going for the next five weeks.
“We’ve been going at this for nine weeks and 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.” Former baseball pro Akins impresses
When the Texans drafted Central Florida tight end Jordan Akins in the third round, there were specific things they liked about the former Texas Rangers minor leaguer.
They were enamored of Akins’ athleticism, size and hands. And they liked his maturity as a 26-year-old rookie and former professional baseball player.
The Texans became familiar with Akins’ skills and personality when they coached him at the Senior Bowl All-Star game, gaining knowledge about him as a prospect.
So far, Akins has been as advertised during offseason practices.
“No doubt, he’s a good athlete,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “He’s a big guy that can run. He’s a smart guy.
“I don’t think there’s any question about that. He’s got good quickness for a guy his size, and, like I said, he’s an intelligent guy.” Ervin medically cleared to return
Texans running back and kick returner Tyler Ervin has been cleared medically in advance of training camp.
Placed on injured reserve with a torn patellar tendon that required surgery to repair the damage last season, the former fourth-round draft pick from San Jose State is entering his third NFL season.
Ervin got hurt during a punt return in the first quarter of a 57-14 win over the Tennessee Titans
Ervin caught eight passes for 38 yards and rushed for 12 yards on four carries in four games last season.
Ervin is playing under a four-year, $2.9 million contract.
He has 677 career return yards. And the next stop: The Greenbrier
The Texans’ next road trip is to West Virginia.
For the second consecutive year, the Texans will hold training camp at The Greenbrier.
The Texans signed a twoyear contract with an option for a third year last year. They are the second NFL team to camp at The Greenbrier with the New Orleans Saints previously having their camp there.
Training away from Houston in moderate weather at a nice facility and building team chemistry are the primary pluses about the experience. It didn’t translate to more wins, though, as the Texans, largely because of injuries to key players, finished 4-12 last season and in last place in the AFC South.
“We really like The Greenbrier,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “It gives us a chance to get away. I think it was good last year for the team bonding. Obviously, it didn’t lead to the successful season that we all want, but we felt like we came out of there with some good chemistry, with guys feeling good about their roles on the team and The Greenbrier itself is a great place.
“We won’t be there as long this year. We’re going to come back to Houston right after Kansas City to begin to get ready for San Francisco. We’ll scrimmage San Francisco out here when they arrive in town, but we’re looking forward to going to The Greenbrier.”
A former Texas Rangers minor leaguer, rookie tight end Jordan Akins has wowed the Texans’ staff with his abilities and intelligence during minicamp.