NFL Wire News

Texans’ QB competition continues; second-year players progress


The Sports Xchange

HOUSTON — When will Bill O’Brien name the Houston Texans’ starting quarterback for the 2015 season? When he wants to. And likely not anytime soon.

O’Brien said Monday that all three of his quarterbacks have impressed during the initial portion of OTAs, with third-stringer Tom Savage receiving praise for his second-year progress and the coach acknowledging Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer have both been sharp.

“It’s really early,” said O’Brien, following the team’s fourth OTA at NRG Stadium. “We do a lot of two-spot drills, so we’re getting both those guys a lot of reps. Tommy Savage is getting a lot of reps, too. All three guys have done a really good job this spring. They’ve been here every day and working hard and it’s been good to see.”

O’Brien offered a two-word response when asked if he has a timetable for his season-changing quarterback decision.

“No,” he said. “No.”

Mallett took first-team reps Monday, throwing to primary players while Hoyer and Savage led the second and third units on the opposite side of the field. The Texans are rotating Mallett and Hoyer with the first team on opposing days, allowing each to get a full shot with the unit they could be guiding when the regular season begins.

“It’s important for these guys to be able to operate the offense at a high tempo,” O’Brien said. “We have a lot of different types of tempo. But to be in and out of the huddle or when it’s no-huddle, changing the pace of practice and handling that on their own. Being able to communicate the play, get people lined up, change the cadence, get us into the right play and then complete the pass. Primarily, this is a passing camp.”

Savage wasn’t the only second-year Texan who received praise from O’Brien on Monday.

The coach said that backup nose tackle Louis Nix is in much better shape than he was this time last year and has initially impressed the team during OTAs.

“He’s really done a good job so far in our offseason program of making improvements from where he was last year,” O’Brien said. “Again, he’s healthy. Last year, he was injured. This year, he is healthy and he’s able to be out there.”

Second-year cornerback Andre Hal has more on his plate than most of his teammates.

Not only is Hal continuing to learn about cornerback play, but he’s also playing inside in the nickel, as well as safety.

Considering how much he has to learn, it’s a good thing Hal played at Vanderbilt, one of the top academic universities in the nation.

“Yeah, it is, right?” Hal said. “They have faith in me to play corner, safety and nickel.

“They (coaches) told me last year I need to know all of it. Last year I was kind of prepping for this. I kind of jumped into it. The first OTA we kind of walked through it, and I focused on it. Now I just react to it.”

After strong safety D.J. Swearinger was released following the draft, it created an opening in the starting lineup.

“They want us all competing and the competition is good,” Hal said.

–O’Brien spoke with the media for the first time since OTAs began. The Texans’ coach was scheduled to speak last Wednesday, which marked the same day HBO announced it would film the team for this season’s “Hard Knocks.”

O’Brien, who hasn’t watched the show in previous years, plans to talk to other NFL coaches to prepare for the onset of multiple TV cameras covering every detail of training camp.

“We’re going to go about our business the way we always do. We’re not changing for anything,” O’Brien said. “I think that when you look at ‘Hard Knocks,’ it’s an opportunity for people to see that this is a team, that this is not a team of individuals. Hopefully the show is able to give examples and show us as a team, a disciplined, smart football team. That’s what we’re looking forward to as it relates to ‘Hard Knocks.'”

The Saints have already adjusted to the Texans’ new national platform. New Orleans canceled a planned weeklong practice session with the Texans prior to a preseason game.

“We’re working on another team and we’ll see how that goes,” O’Brien said. “Every day in this league as a head football coach and as a player, different things come up. It’s this, it’s that or it’s something else. You’ve got to be able to adapt, you’ve got to be able to be flexible.”

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