All eyes were on the 9-on-7 run drills between the Falcons and the Texans on Thursday morning.
The Falcons first-team did well on the first day against the stout Texans’ front, but they struggled during this second practice.
On the fourth play, rookie right tackle Jake Matthews whiffed on a block. Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, a two-time All-Pro, went around Matthews and tagged the running back down in the backfield.
“He’s a helluva player,” Matthews said. “He’s really good. That’s was something that I needed because I want to go up against the best players so that I can be the best player that I can be. He was going to show me just how tough it can be in the league so that was good.”
Watt was impressed by Matthews.
“He’s got good potential,” Watt said. “He’s obviously his own guy, but he comes from a great pedigree. I think that he’s going to be a pretty good player down the line.”
Over his first training camp, Matthews, the sixth player selected in the NFL draft, has now faced Tennessee’s Derrick Morgan, Miami’s Cameron Wake, Houston’s Watt and Houston rookie outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney.
“I had a him a couple of times when we were working on stunts,” Matthews said.
Matthews was pleased with the work against the Texans.
“I really learned a lot and I think I grew,” Matthews said. “I did a lot of good things. That has been one of the best parts practicing against the Titans and the Texans. You get to go against different players with different styles and techniques.”
Watt felt the practices were productive, too.
“It’s be great competition,” Watt said. “There have been a lot of things to learn from on both sides of the ball. I think it’s been a very beneficial experience. There was some good hitting. I think that overall it’s been very beneficial for both teams.”
The second-unit was up in the 9-on-7 drills and struggled with its movement.
Offensive line coach Mike Tice was not happy with a play and gave them some stern encouragement.
Later running back Jerome Smith, showed great patience on a run and allowed center James Stone enough time to make a block. Smith, an undrafted rookie from Syracuse, then darted through a large hole.