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Ryan Mallett Is Refining Touch And Accuracy In QB Battle

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There has never been any doubt about Ryan Mallett's arm strength, and now he is working hard to develop better touch on his passes. See what he and Bill O'Brien said about his focused efforts to improve as an NFL quarterback.

"Intermediate distance...reducing power by 5%...target acquired...and...BOOM!"
"Intermediate distance...reducing power by 5%...target acquired...and...BOOM!"
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The quarterback battle continues between Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett to determine who will be the starting signal-caller of the Houston Texans for the start of the 2015 NFL season.  We have all seen the power and velocity of Mallett's throws.  Accuracy has been the primary criticism of his relatively limited performances in games and as reported from some practices.  Mallett has apparently been focused on reigning that power in to help improve his accuracy, and also to provide a more catch-able ball for receivers.

Tania Ganguli published this article highlighting the ongoing development of Ryan Mallett's passing technique.

Mallett is now competing to be the Texans' starting quarterback against Brian Hoyer, who was Cleveland's starting quarterback for most of last season. Touch is a skill Texans coach Bill O'Brien has seen Mallett work on since 2011 when O'Brien was the Patriots' offensive coordinator and Mallett was a New England rookie quarterback. Touch is one of the many skills of a quarterback that matters to O’Brien -- but it fits into the category of adjustable physical skills.

"He would throw the 20 yard in cut just like he would throw the checkdown … they were both like 90 miles an hour," O'Brien said. "Now when he drops it down to the back, it’s a catchable ball. I think it has to do with footwork and repetition."

His coaches taught him to take some velocity off the ball by throwing on his toes to reduce his arm's power. Mallett practiced throwing to managers and others who weren't professional receivers.

"If they can catch it, I know my guys can catch it," Mallett said. "It’s just about a feel of the ball and how you release it. … Just gotta know when to use the fastball and when to use the changeup."

The reps with professional receivers were and are critical, too. Developing a better understanding of each receiver helps him better understand how to throw to each.

"A lot of times I try to get it there as fast as I can, but I don’t need to," Mallett said. "I’ve worked a lot on that. Just reps an reps and more reps. The older you get the more you understand when you need to throw it hard, when you need to throw it soft, who you need to throw it soft too, who can catch it, who can’t, all that stuff."

"The quarterbacks can make the receivers better in a lot of ways," O'Brien said. "Post practice work, pre-practice work, what they do between the end of this minicamp and when training camp starts. I think once practice starts, 11-on-11, 7-on-7, it’s being accurate with the ball. Giving them a good ball to catch and putting it where they want it but also I think when the receivers and tight ends and backs, when they go out there and make tough catches for the quarterback, that creates trust."

If Mallett can achieve the necessary "touch" combined with his strong arm, he certainly may push himself into the starting role in just a few weeks when training camp gets underway.