A new set of wide receivers. Different skillsets. Quicker tempo. The Texans' offense presented the Redskins with a fresh look at Thursday's joint practice.
Duke Ihenacho wanted to get a little taste of game speed again, while Preston Smith wanted to see what it was like going against professional football players other than his teammates.
On Thursday, they both got those opportunities and much more during the first of three joint practices at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.
While the Redskins' offense vs. a J.J. Watt and Vince Wilfork defense drew a majority of fan attention during drills on the field closest to the fans, the Redskins' defense was working just as hard against a Texans offense featuring a talented wide receivers corps of their own.
"They're bigger, but I think they're a little slower," Ihenacho said. "But they are bigger though. I think the biggest challenge is a lot of motions. They did a lot of movement, where they didn't let us get in lines, pre-snap, so they did a lot of motions and snap the ball, that was pretty tough. But, you know, it's a learning experience. Tomorrow we'll do better."
Second-year linebacker Trent Murphy said the Texans' offense presented a different tempo.
"It was fun to get some new faces out there, new competition," he said. "They've got a new tempo about them and stuff, so we definitely got to see some new looks, not just in the classroom but on the field."
Smith echoed Murphy's sentiment about their speed.
"I'm used to seeing the Redskins' offense every day in practice, so it's just great to go out there and finally get a chance to be on a faster pace, a different pace, a different team," he said. "They're working hard just like we're working hard, and finally it got to kind of a game speed. That's what I like being a rookie mixing in the practices like this because it's similar to game speed and what we'll see playing another team."
Ihenacho and Murphy made the biggest plays of the day during 11-on-11 drills.
While the Texans' offense got going early on a drive starting from their 35-yard line, completing their first four passes, a false start call from the referees in attendance set them back.
Then, on a 3rd and 4 play, Ihenacho, who was back in coverage, watched as Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer scanned the field and threw a pass in his direction.
Getting a hand onto the ball with a physical style of defense, Ihenacho popped the pass into the air before Dashon Goldson intercepted it.
That physical play isn't anything new for Ihenacho, especially after having to spend the majority of last year watching from afar as he recovered from a season-ending injury early in the year.
"Real football over here, it's the best way to simulate it," Ihenacho said of returning to action. "It's the only way I can get the work because we don't hit each other in our practices. There was a couple times in 7-on-7 where I could have really just killed somebody, but I pulled off, so we don't get these opportunities a lot, but I just try to work on my technique and I know it's something I need to work on, so whenever I get a chance, I'll try to be as physical as possible."
Murphy, meanwhile, could have gotten a clean shot on Hoyer if hitting were allowed.
"I came right off Keenan [Robinson], who blitzed really well, and I came off and they had no chance to pick up the blitz," he said. "It was a tight gap and I had nowhere to go so I got a little close to the quarterback. Maybe too close for comfort for them I'm sure. But it would have been a good hit."