“I think we just get a little bit more physical in training camp and so that’s always a great focus,” McDaniels said. “But the most important thing is no steps back."
The Texans have been looking for improvements everywhere across the offense this season.
A year after finishing dead last in the NFL in yards, 30th in points and 26th in passing yards. Houston knows they have work to do to improve that ranking this year and have been hard at work through the offseason to do so.
A big part of that is the maturation of Davis Mills, entering his second NFL season and now knowing what it takes to be an NFL starter, the Texans expect a jump during his sophomore campaign.
But the franchise also knows it will take more than just an improvement from Mills. They have added depth to the offensive line and running back, and to another important position in wide receiver.
The Texans bring back each of their top three leading receivers from last year, and have also built up depth through this year’s NFL draft.
And this year’s group has already gotten to work.
“I just really have a lot of respect for the entire group for the way they’ve approached this offseason,” said Ben McDaniels, the Texans wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator. “There’s been great energy and focus in the building and they’ve grown themselves mentally and they’ve really taken that from the building to our here on the field and have gotten some valuable physical snaps. It’s just been great energy and focus from all of them.”
The Texans want their offense to be more explosive this season and the receivers have been working to make sure they can help that happen.
Under Pep Hamilton as offensive coordinator, the team wants a balance of run to pass, but they want to be able to attack down the field and take some risks in order to get big plays.
“It’s a new system and terminology, which is always a challenge when there’s a new coordinator,” McDaniels said. “I’m trying to teach it and show my guys how you run it, which everyone else is doing too. But I think everyone has done a good job, both as coaches and players of embracing this and embracing that change. There’s always going to be change year to year and they’ve answered the call and stepped up.”
Brandin Cooks is the leader and veteran presence of the group. Cooks comes off a year in which he caught 90 passes on 134 targets and had 1,037 yard receiver and six touchdowns, averaging nearly 65 yards per game. Chris Conley also provides a steady veteran presence, and the team is expecting a jump from Nico Collins as he enters his second NFL season. Collins was the team’s second leading receiver last year with 33 receptions and 446 yards to go with one touchdown.
“Collins really has had a great approach to the offseason so far,” McDaniels said. “I’m really excited for him because he has a lot of talent. He’s done a great job both in the meeting room and on the practice field. We attack a lot of areas in the offseason. He’s focusing on some fundamental tweaks and he’s really started to grow. He’s just growing in every area.”
The Texans also added a big addition in the second round of the draft, with John Metchie III, and the entire group is rearing and ready to get to training camp.
“I think we just get a little bit more physical in training camp and so that’s always a great focus,” McDaniels said. “But the most important thing is no steps back. We’re going to take a break to get ready for that, but mentally you have to be prepared for that physicality because like I said, you can’t take any steps back.”
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