The Houston Texans had their first glimpse at this year's rookie class, as the team held the first rookie minicamp of 2013.
There's always more than a few nuggets to glean from these practices—albeit, it isn't attended by every player on the roster. News and updates on rookies and veterans alike flow from this event. It's really the first time the 2013 Houston Texans roster isn't just something that's "on paper."
There was plenty to learn from the few days of minicamp, and it's never too soon to begin analyzing the repercussions of the happenings during those days.
It didn't take long for buzz to build this year. Here are the biggest takeaways from the Houston Texans' rookie minicamp.
If there's one player to keep an eye on for the next few months leading up to Week 1, it's Houston's first-round selection.
DeAndre Hopkins opened camp by stealing the headlines with a few highlight-reel grabs. His hands have been well publicized as one of his best traits, and it was on full display in the first few practices.
He even showed off his competitive nature following one of his many big plays during his first day at the office. Houston's second-round pick D.J Swearinger spoke about it to Nick Scurfield via the Houston Texans' official website:
He made one big catch and then when he came back on the sideline, he sort of stared me down. But it’s all good. We’re going to talk trash, but we’re good boys, man.
That's the kind of attitude that should excite fans. For a practice in May that isn't even in front of the whole team, effort like that is absolutely notable.
Gary Kubiak didn't mince words when reviewing Hopkins' first few practices:
(I was) impressed. Very impressed. (He was) very competitive, that’s number one. We knew that. Tremendous hands, got big hands, has no problem with the ball, coming out of a break – all those things we knew we were getting. But I loved the competitive nature of him, just watching him come out here and compete today.
Overall, there seems to be a sense that Hopkins is ready to take on a major role with this team in 2013. Expect big things from the rookie going forward.
While Hopkins was the main event, second-round pick D.J. Swearinger also began making a name for himself.
Swearinger drew the praise of the coaching staff for his play throughout minicamp. His ball skills and instincts jumped out right away, and he created some buzz on one particular play.
Swearinger is a really good athlete and made a really nice interception this morning. He seems to be feeling the defense real well… He’s very instinctive. He’s just learning the defense like everybody else, but he seems to catch on quickly, and he made an interception today where he was playing in another area but made the play. He’s a naturally good player that needs to keep developing, but we like him.
It's encouraging to see the former Gamecock stick out right away. He was the kind of player who jumped off the screen at South Carolina, and that's rare for the safety position.
There's still a long way to go, but it's going to be difficult to keep Swearinger off the field in a backup role.
Even without the veterans present, the competition at outside linebacker kicked off in minicamp. The heated battle at that position should carry all the way up until Week 1.
Trevardo Williams is apparently further along than Sam Montgomery in the early going, according to Gary Kubiak. That shouldn't come as all that surprising, as Williams had previous experience rushing standing up at UConn.
Growing pains are expected with both of these players converting full time to 3-4 outside linebacker going forward.
Both Williams and Montgomery bring a different skill set to the table, and it seems like Williams' speed is translating right away. The coaches took note of it, and he was clearly one of the bright spots of the front seven players in minicamp.
For a sixth-round pick, there's quite a bit of buzz building around the Jacksonville State product Alan Bonner.
The quickness he possesses in and out of cuts was evident, and he has more size than 5'10" and 193 pounds would indicate. He has more of a Percy Harvin-type build—thick and compact with broad shoulders.
Much has been made over Houston's lack of use of a slot receiver, but that hasn't always been the case. David Anderson hung around for a few seasons as a slot receiver, and the Texans began to groom Keshawn Martin in that role last year.
Bonner appears to be a much more skilled receiver than Anderson and will compete with Martin for slot snaps right away.
Case Keenum and Collin Klein were the lone signal-callers in camp throwing to all of the participants.
The local favorite and former Houston Cougar drew the praise of Gary Kubiak for his feel and understanding of the offense heading into his second year. It's hard to imagine him making the team, but you wouldn't sense that from hearing Kubiak talk about his progress.
The Texans are committed to grooming Keenum, and he's responding to the challenge. This will be a story to watch in preseason, and there's no doubt if he enjoys any kind of success, the local Cougar crowd will be clamoring for him to make the roster.
Klein's tenure with the Texans was short lived, as the team opted not to sign him (via MyFoxHouston.com) to a contract following his minicamp tryout.