The middle part of OTA work got under way for the team

11 observations from Texans OTAs

The Texans got to work after a break on their next phase of OTAs. Here's what you need to know.

Vyncint Smith has improved

He looks like a totally different wide receiver than last year. Everything looks to be a little bit faster from the processing maybe even to his speed. It was expected last year would be a rude awakening for him coming from Limestone college but he surprised and made the team then stayed on the team.

This year he isn't just a go route guy. He is fluid and smooth over the middle and has better mastery of NFL routes. He will need to continue to improve consistency but there is absolutely a space for Smith on the team. Only DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Keke Coutee are locks. Smith fits the mold of an outside receiver the Texans could use as depth behind Hopkins and Fuller. He has plenty of competition though as Bill O'Brien made sure to note the wideouts play a position that right now is "very very competitive."

Jordan Thomas

Jordan Thomas looks comfortable at tight end now. He also has changed his body a little and seems to be much more fluid. He will be a key contributor for the team and has a chance to be the first tight end on the field for the Texans. He is just so big he becomes a tough cover for linebackers.

O'Brien said it is good and bad he got to play as a rookie but noted he did some good things for the team in 2018. He also mentioned Thomas had a long way to go getting to where he wanted to be and where the team needed to be. He is well on his way though.

Kahale Warring still working

Texans tight end Kahale Warring

Cody Stoots/SportsMap

It was an up and down day for the Texans new tight end. He got a lot of work at all facets of the tight end position throughout the day. He will have to improve his blocking, not necessarily from a physical point. He said he relished the opportunity, but from a technique and awareness standpoint.

He said "all the tight ends at my position are helping" him get acclimated at the position and even Deshaun Watson is "in my ear" helping him on the field. The potential is there as he's physically gifted and has a great athlete background mentioning his basketball helping him on the field. Towards the end of the workout he hauled in a nice catch despite having shown a little fatigue earlier.

Joseph still young

Johnathan Joseph is the elder statesmen in the secondary and he's embracing his role as the leader and veteran. He also wants to show he has plenty left in the tank too as he knocked down a couple of balls and was a little angry at himself at for missing a near interception.

He praised the work ethic of the secondary and the rookie draft picks, Lonnie Johnson and Xavier Crawford, who are trying to fit in. He mentioned Johnson had a lot of talents when it came to height, weight, and speed and praised Crawford's speed.

Joseph will have to play and he will have to be solid for the Texans to succeed early. He looks good now and the injury bug actually hit him for just the first time last season. It will be interesting to see how he works against the Packers and Lions in the joint practices as well as his work against Deandre Hopkins and Will Fuller.

Growth with the slot specialist

Deshaun Watson and Keke Coutee are going to frustrate opposing offenses with the speed at which they work together. Watching them is like watching two players who have far more time together than you would expect. Coutee, of course, missed a ton of time his rookie year with his hamstring injury. The relationship is strong between he and Watson.

Coutee mentioned he took a ton of time this offseason working on making sure his body is where he can stay on the field. He said stretching and a lot of work on his soft tissues is where he spent a lot of the time.

Play of the day goes to the fullback

Cullen Gillaspia had the play of the day when he skied for a pass and snatched it out of the air. My goodness it was impressive. He is extremely athletic and it shows on the football field. It doesn't sneak up on you. It is ever-present.

He is the team's fullback but he is certainly a more modern fullback than say Jay Prosch was for the Texans two seasons ago. Kyle Juszczyk of the 49ers and how they use him is the eventual goal I would guess for Gillaspia. He has to have an impact on special teams as the team works him into the position he just started playing last year at Texas A&M.

New McKinney, Same Results

Benardrick McKinney looks a bit more svelt than previous years. I would be concerned about it considering he plays such a psychically demanding position but he has shown the same level of athleticism we are used to seeing and his coverage ability is as solid as ever.

With these types of practices with no pads guys like McKinney, thumpers in the run game, have to work on other things. He has always been athletic but it will be interesting to see how much this slight tweak to his frame impacts his work.

Reid and Gip

No, it isn't the hot new buddy cop show coming to CBS this fall but it is apparent Justin Reid and new safety Tashaun Gipson are becoming fast friends. Gipson and Reid communicate a lot before and after plays often time with the veteran instructing the second-year safety.

Johnathan Joseph said the defense likes the idea of interchangeable safeties, something Reid mentioned last week. If Gipson and Reid can get to the level of being able to do each other's jobs before the season starts the Texans will have a nice matchup weapon.

"Basically a rookie"

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We keep goin’ higher! Year 2 ⚡️

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That was the comment Bill O'Brien made about second-year cornerback Jermaine Kelly. Kelly missed all of last season with an injury and has quite a bit of catching up to do. He looks the part of what the Texans are heading towards in their secondary though. He is a physical marvel easily over 200 pounds and solid. He has some length to his game too.

Making the team will not be easy for Kelly but there will be opportunities. If he can shine on special teams and make plays in the secondary there is a route for him to stick around. This is his first taste of real NFL action and he is worth paying attention to going forward.

Foreman's motivation

D'Onta Foreman said he feels like this is the best he has ever felt heading into a football season. He looks like it too. He also said he feels like the coaching staff is excited about him and what he can do. You can tell they are too because they didn't add a significant running back to the roster.

The important thing for Foreman is catching up. He hasn't been fully healthy playing football since 2017 so getting back to where he was and then building from that point is a key for him.

Coach Cushing

It still doesn't feel right to see Brian Cushing running around in workout gear and not a Texans uniform but such is the life of coach Cushing. He isn't helping just in the weight room either. He was assisting the linebackers with a couple of drills. His impact may not be immediately quantifiable, and who knows if he will stick around, but it doesn't hurt to have him as well as former Texans linebacker Akeem Dent around a linebacker corps who is fairly young overall.

Cushing not having to do football workouts has led to a slightly more muscular version of the linebacker we once knew. He still can move a little though simulating a player in one of the drills.

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Houston now trails in the fall classic

Astros fall in World Series Game 1 as Braves come out swinging

Framber Valdez had a forgettable start in World Series Game 1 as the Braves tagged him with five runs. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a dominant end to win the ALCS and American League pennant, the Houston Astros welcomed in the National League champion Atlanta Braves for World Series Game 1 at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. With Houston favored to win not just this game but the entire series, the Braves shook up those expectations by finding early success at the plate to build a lead they would hold to take a 1-0 series lead.

Final Score: Braves 6, Astros 2

World Series (Best of Seven): Atlanta leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: A.J. Minter

Losing Pitcher: Framber Valdez

Valdez unable to replicate ALCS Game 5 success as Braves mount early lead

For the optimist, not having home-field advantage in an MLB postseason series affords you a benefit: you can score first and take captive momentum first in the series. The Braves did that against Framber Valdez, as Jorge Soler became the first player in league history to hit a homer in the first plate appearance of a World Series, putting Atlanta out to an immediate 1-0 lead. They would get another in the first frame, getting a one-out infield single by Ozzie Albies, who would steal second to get in position for an RBI double by Austin Riley.

Houston had the chance to respond in their first inning against former teammate Charlie Morton, getting a single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. They'd strand all three runners, though, as Morton made it through unscathed but having used 26 pitches. Atlanta kept putting stress on Valdez, extending their lead to three runs with back-to-back singles to start the second before later getting an RBI groundout.

Valdez gave up two more in the top of the third, once again allowing a leadoff single, this one setting up a two-run homer to make it a 5-0 Braves lead and forcing Houston's starter out of the game early. Yimi Garcia entered and was able to retire the three batters he faced to end the frame.

Braves lose Morton to injury as both bullpens begin long night

After stranding the bases loaded in the bottom of the first to keep the Astros off the board, Morton followed it up with a 1-2-3 second. He started the bottom of the third by retiring his fifth batter in a row, getting a strikeout of Jose Altuve. He would immediately call trainers to get him out of the game, though, as he would later be diagnosed with a fractured fibula, presumably from a ball that ricocheted off his leg in the prior inning, ending his season in a disappointing turn of events for the Braves.

That set up a long night for both bullpens, and next up for Houston was Jake Odorizzi. He started with a scoreless fourth, working around a two-out error to keep it a five-run game. The Astros began a rally in the bottom of the fourth, getting runners on the corners with one out on a Kyle Tucker double and Yuli Gurriel single. Chas McCormick brought in the first run of the board for Houston, but that's all they would get as Atlanta's lead remained four runs.

Astros drop Game 1

Odorizzi kept going on the mound, tossing a 1-2-3 fifth, then getting one out before a one-out single in the top of the sixth would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Phil Maton, who finished the inning. Maton returned in the top of the seventh, getting a strikeout before a double and a walk would result in the call to bring in Ryne Stanek.

A double play against his first batter allowed Stanek to finish the seventh, and then he returned in the eighth. He faced three batters that frame, getting one out before a walk and a single would put runners on the corners as Houston moved on to Brooks Raley. A sac fly by Freddie Freeman off of Raley made it a five-run lead again, but a leadoff triple by Yordan Alvarez in the bottom of the inning would set up Carlos Correa for an RBI, a groundout to make it 6-2.

Atlanta's bullpen continued to do well, though, limiting the damage to that one run in the eighth, then returning to hold on to the four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to give the Braves the upset win to start the series. The loss extends their home losing streak in the World Series to five games (having lost all four at home in the 2019 World Series against the Nationals) and puts them down 0-1 and in need of a win in Game 2 to try and reset the series into a best-of-five.

Up Next: World Series Game 2 will be another 7:09 PM Central scheduled start time on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park. The expected pitching matchup is Max Fried, who is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three postseason starts, for the Braves, and Jose Urquidy, who went just 1.2 innings while allowing six runs (five earned) in his start in the ALCS.

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