Houston — Here are some notes and observations from Thursday's joint practice between the Detroit Lions and Houston Texans.
► With Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola nursing injuries, a number of backup receivers received steady reps with the first-team offense this week. That group included Chris Lacy, Andy Jones, Tommylee Lewis and Tom Kennedy.
The drop off in talent at the position was noticeable when the two teams shared the field, and starting quarterback Matthew Stafford struggled working with different weapons. He was picked off three times during the practice, including twice on three plays.
The first ball was intended for Kennedy, but it sailed over the 5-foot-10 receiver's head down the seam, into the waiting arms of safety Chris Johnson. After completing a pass to Kennedy on the next snap, Stafford fired wide on a throw to Lewis, running a post pattern, where former Central Michigan safety Jahleel Addae came up with the sliding pick in the middle of the field.
A third interception came in a 2-minute situation. Unable to initially find an open receiver, Stafford rolled out of the pocket to his right and fired a bullet in the direction of running back Mark Thompson, near the right sideline. The pass deflected off the back's hands directly to cornerback Johnathan Joseph, ending the series.
► It was another scorcher in Houston, but unlike Wednesday, this one lacked scattered cloud cover and an occasional breeze. A day after Houston had record-high temperatures, the mercury once again above 90 degrees, with smothering humidity to boot.
► A couple former Lions were in attendance, with safety tandem Glover Quin and James Ihedigbo in the house.
► In one-on-one pass rush drills, Devon Kennard was a standout among Detroit's defenders. He blew around offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson on the first rep, then easily got by guard Martinas Rankin with a swim move on a second snap, rushing from an inside alignment.
Defensive tackle Kevin Strong, who has thrived in the drill against teammates, and even against the Patriots during joint practices last week, struggled to beat his man for the second straight day. He was stuffed on his two rushes by Max Scharping and David Steinmetz.
Damon Harrison and Trey Flowers, both recently activated off injured lists, did not participate in the drill.
► In seven-on-seven red zone work from the 5-yard line, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson had his way against Detroit's linebackers and safeties. But that success didn't carry over to the full-squad work.
Starting from the 20-yard line, the Texans picked up a first down after a short completion to Will Fuller and a Lamar Miller carry for a conversion. The back got the ball again on the next two plays, getting stuffed at the line by Tracy Walker on second-and-goal, leading to third-and-goal from the 4-yard line.
Watson zeroed in on Deandre Hopkins on the play, but the All-Pro receiver was bracketed by Walker and cornerback Darius Slay, resulting in an incompletion.
Detroit's second-team defense had less luck. After linebacker Miles Killebrew recorded a tackle behind on the line on the first snap, Houston backup quarterback Joe Webb connected with fullback Cullen Gillaspia on a wheel route for a touchdown from 11 yards out.
► Detroit's first and second-team offenses were both held out of the end zone in the same practice segment. C.J. Anderson was stopped for minimal gains on first and second down, coming up limping after the second carry. Stafford threw a short pass to Kerryon Johnson on third-and-goal and the back was stopped well short of the goal line.
Josh Johnson, leading the second team, missed his target on second and third down, gunning wide of tight end Jerome Cunningham on the first and overshooting rookie Travis Fulgham on the fade on the second.
► The Lions' first team came game out for two more situational reps. The first, a third-and-goal from the 5, saw Stafford get sacked by J.J. Watt, who dominated Rick Wagner on the snap. The Lions QB finished on a positive note, connecting with tight end Logan Thomas for a 2-yard touchdown.
► Sam Martin was sharp with some punting work, pinning the Texans inside the 10-yard line on three of his four efforts, including one downed by cornerback Mike Ford at the 2-yard line.
Backup punter Ryan Santoso was less precise, putting two into the end zone and sending a third out of bounds around the 15-yard line.