Safe, sound, and functioning on three hours of sleep, I am LIVE in New Orleans at the Saints practice facility in Metarie, LA covering the Texans and the Saints inter-squad practice sessions.
For those unaware of the agenda, the Texans spent this morning and will spend tomorrow morning (Thursday) doing drills (one-on-one, 9-on-9, and 11-on-11 mostly) with the World Champion New Orleans Saints (I just wanted to type out that whole "World Champion Saints" thing to see how it felt -- the weirdness of the Saints being on top of the football world definitely lives up to the hype.). The Texans will spend this afternoon and Thursday afternoon practicing among themselves before a walk through Friday at the Superdome and finally the preseason game Saturday.
For the most part, unless you're my co-host John Harris (who collects film of the Oklahoma drill the way most of us download porn), we all attend these team-on-team practices for the same reason my mom used to attend Philadelphia Flyers hockey games in the 70's -- to pray that there will be fights!
Unfortunately today, while the practices were spirited, there were no fisticuffs, but other things happened! And I'm bringing them to you right here on Hair Balls....
Before I get to the doings out at practice, a humorous story from the ride over to New Orleans last night. I'm on this trip with John Granato (co-host of 1560's morning show and my boss) and Raheel Ramzanali (producer of the morning show, American citizen, and all-around swell guy). I've road-tripped with each guy before; if I'm drafting a fantasy road trip team, both of these guys are lottery picks.
Our rental vehicle is a Chevy pickup truck, courtesy of Enterprise Rent-A-Car and our pal Uncle Freddy. We put the bags in the truck bed last night as we were leaving Houston, but unfortunately around Winnie (halfway to Beaumont) it started raining so we pulled over to move the bags into the back seat with Raheel. I got out on the passenger's side and did some of the heavy lifting.
After getting back in the truck, my legs and hands started to feel like they were being used as a pin cushion. Small sharp bites. We turned on the cab light and my seat and legs were crawling with fire ants. Apparently, I stepped in a mound of them when we were executing "Operation Luggage Move." Needless to say, the ants won this battle. My calves and hands now look like a teenager's pimply face after finals week. Just disgusting. Add to this the fact that we had to go back to the station and my house before leaving Houston because I forgot, among other things, my media pass and you can assume Granato and Raheel are not as high on my road-tripping skills right now as I am on theirs.
Now, actual practice items...first, let me say that there are so many different groups doing things that it's impossible to watch all of them at once, so I'm going to give eight quick impressions just on things that I was able to take in:
1) When we got there, the teams were in 9-on-9 drills with the receivers and corners on another part of the field doing one-on-one routes. Jacoby Jones looked great in the one-on-one drills and was even shaking his head and talking trash after he made plays. Jacoby in midseason form. David Anderson was a pain in the ass for the Saints defensive backs; the dude just has a knack for getting wide open and a couple times Saints' corners had to haul him down before he got out of his break.
2) Joel Dreessen made a couple big plays in the 11-on-11. He's not Owen Daniels, but he doesn't have to be. If he can make the plays he's supposed to and provide a legitimate threat down the seam, the offense should hum along just fine if Owen's knee starts acting up. They ran a LOT of plays to tight ends in the 11-on-11 part of practice -- Casey, Dreessen, and even Fine were seen with the ball in their hands quite a bit.
3) First team offensive line, in case you're wondering, during the drills I watched was (left to right) Brown, Studdard, Myers, Caldwell, and Winston, for what it's worth.
4) No fumbles for any of the running backs today that I saw. Arian Foster clearly looks the part of top tailback, and it's not even close right now. I talked to Steve Slaton after practice, he seems in good spirits and looks a LOT trimmer than last season. Just needs to hold onto the ball.
5) Not surprisingly, they ran a bubble screen to Andre once. It didn't work.
6) Dan Orlovsky looked a lot more decisive in 11-on-11 portions that I watched than he did earlier in camp; he threw some really nice out patterns to Jacoby. Arm strength, as we all know, isn't the issue with Dan. He showed that today.
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7) Trindon Holliday needs to get things straightened out. Clearly, his progress is a significant storyline in camp because of the roster churn that keeping a return specialist can set into motion. Not sure what to read into this, but during kicking game portions of the practice, Gary Kubiak spent the entire time watching Trindon field punts against the Saints return team and ignored the battle going on over on the second field between the Texans' two placekickers in camp (which is kind of important).
8) Finally, I stepped in gum while watching 11-on-11 drills, which means with gum and fire ants checked off, I'm now halfway to the "stepped in" cycle on this trip. All I need is a pothole and a pile of dogshit. Pray for me...and my shoes.
See ya tomorrow!
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the "Sean & John Show" and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.