I don't like crowds. I have no patience to stand in the middle of a huge throng of people; if I wanted to do that, I would be a cow. So it seems rather ironic that I have spent six of the last eight days sitting in the heat with thousands of people huddled up next to me. Get it? Hud---never mind. Anyway, with today being Saturday, the last open practice of training camp, and Fan Appreciation Day, I would have expected the typically packed bleachers to have people clinging like barnacles to the walls behind the benches for today's practice.
So when I found the bleachers were sparsely populated, I whispered a brief "Praise Durga" before taking my seat. I looked around at the crowds wondering how "Fan Appreciation Day" would be more special than any other day of training camp I attended. Through most of practice, the only thing I figured was that some wonderful soul was playing the drums in the main concourse. I say they're a wonderful soul because the drumming drowned out Train's "Soul Sister" playing on the stereo.
Then practice ended.
Over the loudspeaker came this booming, cheerful (clearly someone who had access to air conditioning), voice announcing that Texans players would be coming over to give autographs to fans who stuck around after the official end of practice.
I've never actually seen sharks in the middle of a feeding frenzy, but I have to imagine Texans fans clamoring for autographs has to bear a pretty respectable resemblance. I've never seen people line up for ANYTHING so quickly in my entire life. Arms flailed over the flimsy white fence desperate to get their Texans memorabilia signed by their favorite player, or ANY player. They looked like a giant epileptic octopus. And, for reasons that I still cannot fully explain, even I got into the act. I got my notebook signed by some pretty good players, but there was one in particular I had wanted...and he jogged up to the fence.
"J.J..." I said softly as a wide smile crept onto my face. "It's J.J." I would like to tell you that I was dignified and respectable while waiting for J.J. Watt to sign my notebook, patiently waiting, while wearing my spiffy new Battle Red Blog T-shirt, for the epileptic octopus to swim away. I would like to say that. But it would be an utter lie.
I jumped in place, waved my notebook around trying to get his attention, shouted his name and various stupid jokes about grape-flavored Gatorade. Nothing. My attempts to get
J.J. Watt to file a restraining order against me an autograph from the rookie defensive end were all in vain. As he trotted away to sign more autographs elsewhere, all I could do was eke out a pitiful "Come back, J.J....come baaaaaaaack..."
But as bad as the octopus was in front of the bleachers, trying to get Andre Johnson's autograph was a trial by fire, almost literally. Never mind the fact that having all those other bodies around me only made the temperature hotter than the devil's underpants, and the octopus seemed to be even bigger and meaner as Andre grew closer. It was Andre! Signing things!
I've always wondered what it would be like to be part of those shoppers during "Black Friday." The nerves in the pit of your stomach, the excitement at getting the one thing you need for your Christmas to be complete, the fear of imminent death by stampede. This had all of those things and I didn't even have to buy anything! Sadly, I came up as empty on getting AJ's autograph as J.J.'s, but I was less of an embarrassment than I was trying to get J.J.'s autograph.
Now that I've wasted sufficient space here, let's get to what really matters: football players hitting each other!
Click on the jump to read about who did what, what they wore, and why they should be heckled...probably from a distance.
1. If we have to rely on T.J. Yates at any point this season, we are in a world of trouble. T.J. Yates looked dreadful today. If he wasn't overthrowing receivers, he was throwing his short passes too hard for receivers to catch them. He's a rookie, sure, and this is probably the worst he's looked so far in camp in my opinion but we can't afford Yates to see playing time this season.
2. I'm really looking forward to seeing Jeff Maehl play in the Monday night game. He has great hands and catches everything thrown his way. Kind of reminds me of Kevin Walter in that respect (also since Maehl-man is an unacceptable option for a nickname, he shall be henceforth known as: Maehl-strom.)
3. Johnathan Joseph was held out of practice again today with a groin injury. Even after an injection to his groin he was still sore. That last sentence looks so wrong somehow. I have to admit, I'm mildly concerned about this injury considering the trouble he has staying healthy on a week-in week-out basis. But hey, it's early. There's plenty of time for him to get his body right.
5. Antwaun Molden broke up a couple of passes today. You know, Antwaun, if you had been doing this all along, you wouldn't be getting cut this season.
6. According to BRBer Stash Musial, Brooks Reed really struggled to get into the backfield today, the tackles all seemed to be too much for him to handle.
8. I would be extremely surprised to see Joseph, Foster, or Andre Johnson play in Monday's game. After all, what do they have to gain from playing?
9. Lastly, I want to thank SBN and our corporate
masters sponsor Comcast/Xfinity for allowing me the opportunity to fly down to my hometown to basically talk and write about football. I'd also like to thank my fellow writers/members for putting up with me while I was in town; it was great to finally put faces to some of your names. But most of all I'd like to thank all of you readers. Without y'all this wouldn't be possible, and I hope y'all have enjoyed my semi-coherent rambling.