One of the key points made by all parties during the press conference a couple of weeks ago to announce the Houston Texans' participation in HBO's Hard Knocks was that the show would not do anything that would put the Texans at a competitive disadvantage, and while the content itself come August likely will accomplish that, the mere presence of the program has already caused a glitch in the Texans' preseason routine.
Within a few days of the announcement that the Texans would be the team covered in this year's award-winning NFL series, the New Orleans Saints opted out of a handful of scheduled preseason intersquad practices that would have taken place in advance of the August 30 preseason game between the two teams in New Orleans. It is widely assumed that Hard Knocks, whose crew would be filming the practice sessions, is the reason Saints head coach Sean Payton decided to shut down those practices.
Bill O'Brien is a big believer in practicing with other teams, and no doubt saw how doing so affected his team's preparation and improvement in 2014. Preseason practice sessions with the Falcons and Broncos last summer made the Texans a better team, so by definition, the cancellation of similar practices with the Saints is detrimental. In a post-OTA session press conference last week, O'Brien indicated the team was searching for another NFL team with whom to practice in a couple of months.
“We’re working on another team. 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, I think 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."
Well, as first reported by ESPN.com's Tania Ganguli, the Texans have found their new practice partner, and this one clearly doesn't have any problems with Hard Knocks cameras….
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With Saints pulling out, #Texans did not have a training camp practice partner. Redskins will fill that void. Not tied to a preseason game.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) June 6, 2015
The Redskins were actually one of the two other finalists to appear on Hard Knocks (along with the Buffalo Bills), so now they will appear on the show for at least one episode. The practices will take place in Richmond, Virginia, on August 6, 7 and 8 and, unlike most intersquad practice sessions, they are not tied to a preseason game. The Texans' first preseason game takes place the following Saturday at home against the San Francisco 49ers on August 15.
So if you're looking for any underlying indicators as to just how important Bill O'Brien sees these sessions, consider that the team is investing the travel resources to take all 90 players on what will likely be a four-day trip, and there's not even a game at the end of those four days.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast.