ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Training camp is gone, and with it go our daily camp reports. But the Texans are in a training camp-like setting right now as they spend the week in the Denver area to practice against the Broncos.
And so, we'll continue recapping practice as long as we can.
Right guard Brandon Brooks passed his physical and came off the non-football injury list on Tuesday. He did only individual drills today, starting the process of being eased back into full participation. Brooks said that as an only child, his team is the closest thing to having brothers, and he was happy to be back with them. "I'm starting from square one and have got to play catch up, but at the same time after practice I got some extra reps today in different pass pro," he said. "Any chance I get to get an extra rep in any practice I can, I need to do it."
Brooks' return was part of the trend of the Texans getting more whole as the season approaches. Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, Brian Cushing and Johnathan Joseph did significant work in practice, all of them dealt with some level of injury during the offseason and training camp. "It's nice to have guys out there working in practice and it's one of those things were I've got to be able to communicate with them," quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. "With Andre, a lot of it has been after series or whatever it is talking to him on the sideline. It's nice to have him in the huddle."
It was a no-pads practice, but defensive end J.J. Watt made his presence felt in individual drills, team drills and with his own teammates. Sports Illustrated's Peter King tweeted that Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase said after practice: "I was fine until J.J. Watt ruined our practice." Watt also spent some time tutoring outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney on hand placement and he had a nice time against the Broncos offensive line during one-on-one drills.
Aqib Talib is a guy who likes to try and get into receivers' heads. It was fun to watch him face Texans' second-year player DeAndre Hopkins. "I think they like to pick on guys that they know can beat them," Hopkins said. He did indeed beat Talib a few times. Once Hopkins clearly won off the line of scrimmage, then stretched to attempt a one-handed catch in the end zone -- the kind he often makes in practice, but couldn't quite haul in the ball. "I'm a grown man," Hopkins said. "I don't back down from any challenge. It's great when a guy like (Talib) comes out here and challenges me to get better." He added that Talib has earned his reputation as a great defensive back.
Yellow flags were plentiful at practice, much to the frustration of the Broncos' defensive backfield. Toward the end of practice, Fitzpatrick threw two interceptions, though the second was waved off with a flag, to loud protests from Denver's secondary.