Houston Texans' Practice Notes for Wednesday Morning

By Lance Zierlein
July 31, 2013

The Texans offense ran out of the Pistol formation during a portion of practice today, but Lance Zierlein cautions about looking for it much during the regular season.

Texans run a portion of their practice out of Pistol formation

Let's get this out of the way right now before I keep writing.  The "Pistol" is a formation where the QB lines up in a shallow shotgun and the RB lines up behind him in an I-formation.  The "Pistol" is not a zone-read play and it is not specifically a formation used for just running the zone-read or an option based attack.  While the Redskins ran their base offense out of the pistol including their zone scheme, they did incorporate zone read elements out of the formation as well.  However, the Pistol formation does not mean you have to run any QB option out of it.  College and Texas High Schools have been using the Pistol formation for a few years now and many of them don't run the QB much out of it.

Okay, off soapbox.

The Texans ran an entire segment of their practice out of the Pistol formation and it included snaps for all of the offensive players and defensive players.  I thought the QBs threw the ball fairly well during this portion and I got excited thinking that the Texans may add this wrinkle into their offense as it would allow Schaub to set up for three- and five- step drops more, quickly and because I thought that it would be the precursor for a more pass-oriented offense this year if things didn't get fixed with the running game to the Texans liking.

I was then told by a Texans employee that Gary Kubiak has already addressed the "Pistol" question and that he is simply using it to give his defenses a look at the formation since they will likely see it more often.

Honestly, I believe that to be the case.  If Kubiak wanted to unveil a new formation during the season, he probably wouldn't show it at an open practice for the fans.  I believe the Texans need to run some Pistol formation as I think it could help Schaub get into a rhythm with his quick passing game and the Texans can still run their stretch plays out of that formation as well.

Quarterbacks Inconsistent In Scrimmage

After a solid day of practice yesterday, the QBs struggled during the scrimmage portion of camp today.  Granted, the Texans practices without pads, but the timing and accuracy were issues far too often.  Part of the problem for the QBs is that they were under pressure way too often thanks to the pass rush and while this was a non-contact practices, QBs still speed up their process when the pocket begins to break down.  While Matt Schaub is clearly the best QB out on the field for the Texans, the battle for who is second best is much less clear.  Case Keenum has really come on this year, and Stephen McGee has his moments as well. T.J. Yates is probably going to be handed the backup role, but I don't think he's distanced himself all that much from the other two QBs.

Mays and Newton Working With Starters

It didn't take long for Joe Mays to make his mark.  After being cut by the Denver Broncos and signed by the Houston Texans, Mays was immediately installed with the first unit during his first practice with the team.  Granted, Gary Kubiak could easily fit Darryl Sharpton back into the starting lineup when he's back to 100 percent, but since Sharpton is always getting hurt, why would he?  Instead, look for Mays to lock in as the starter and stay there for the remainder of the season.  Mays is aggressive and physical and he's a decent blitzer as well which the Texans were sorely lacking from their ILB position once Brian Cushing went out.  Derek Newton probably isn't completely where he wants to be from a health standpoint, but he's pushing through it which is something Kubiak loves to see.  If Ryan Harris doesn't clearly outplay Newton, Newton will likely win that job as Kubiak has been praising Newton's approach during camp.

Other Notes

  • DeAndre Hopkins had two unbelievable battles with Johnathan Joseph during one-on-one endzone drills, and he won both, coming down with the TD catch with Joseph draped all over him in both instances.  On the first TD, he shook Joseph with a double move, and while Joseph grabbed him (defensive holding is another name for it) to slow Hopkins down, Hopkins still went up over Joseph for the TD catch.
  • Roc Carmichael looks so much more confident this year and it is showing on the field.  He lost some battles to great catches by the WRs during one-on-ones, but he is staying with them and is doing a great job of breaking on the ball.  Right now, Carmichael just needs to finish plays a little more effectively.  I fully expect him to make the team if he keeps playing like this.
  • While I don't think Syracuse rookie and undrafted free agent WR Alec Lemon makes the team, I do like the way he is competing.  Lemon lacks speed and the ability to get separation, but he's catching damn near everything in practice.
  • Ben Tate showed great change of direction and burst in practice and showed good speed finishing off his runs.
  • Veteran CB Elbert Mack had some downs, but he also had some ups with his coverage near the goal line.
  • CB Brandon Harris is frustrating to watch.  He doesn't have the quickness to sit down on routes and still explode after WRs who are making cuts and that is a big problem.  The good news is that he's got pretty good ball skills and when he's in position to make a play, he's pretty good at making that play.