The work continued on day two highlighted by a star's return and a special teamer standing out

11 observations from Texans training camp, July 26

@edclarke03/

A star returns

Texans star pass catcher DeAndre Hopkins made his return to the practice field just one day after the workouts started. He worked on some very specific drills during the workout. He practiced catching the ball from different body positions like squatting and leaning. He will be on a rep count for the Texans during camp.

Roby's run continues

Make it two days of impressive work in a row for new cornerback Bradley Roby. He ripped down a pass for a pick-six which Bill O'Brien claimed occurred because a pass catcher ran the wrong route. Roby didn't mind how it happened though, he took the ball the 70-plus yards for a score.

Speaking of pass catchers

This may be the deepest pass catching depth in history for the Texans. It feels like everyone can catch the ball well. We know about Hopkins and Will Fuller but Keke Coutee is the first real slot the Texans have had and the tight end room is loaded with every kind of tight end you would want. Deshaun Watson has a plethora of options to hit on the field.

The other Jordan

Jordan Thomas will get a lot of love during camp, as he should. But, don't forget about Jordan Akins. Though he had some plays Friday he might want back he had plenty of play maybe only he can make. Akins should be quite the chess piece for Bill O'Brien to move around the field. A few linebackers had a rough day trying to matchup with him.

Linebackers covering

Zach Cunningham and Dylan Cole are here for among other things their reliability in coverage. The duo showed again today how athletically gifted they are as they chased down tight ends and running backs. It will be imperative Cole stays healthy this season and give the team the much needed depth for that job.

A.J. Moore day

The special teams standout from last year had a strong day between the lines today. He was all over the place breaking up plays. He hauled in a long pass for an interception which really fired up the defense. He has plenty of opportunity while Justin Reid is out to add to his resume on defense.

Reid returns next?

While there is no timetable for Justin Reid to be activated for the team Bill O'Brien didn't seem concerned about his second-year safety's timeline. Reid was hit by a drunk driver before camp started and is currently on the Active/Non-Football Injury list. In his absence Jahleel Addae, most recently with the Chargers, has been getting a good amount of work.

AJ day 2.0

Backup quarterback A.J. McCarron diced up a few defensive sets. He rolled out a few times confusing defenders and extending a play just long enough for his players to come open. He threw a laser into the back of the end zone for a touchdown. He also isn't afraid to take a deep shot.

Pads come on Saturday

The team will have their first padded practice on Saturday. This is where more can be learned about the offensive and defensive lines. The list of most interesting players to be in pads tomorrow for me is as follows:

OL Tytus Howard

OL Max Scharping

OT Julién Davenport

DE Charles Omenihu

Play of the day

Fullback Cullen Gillaspia made the play of the day. He caught a pass in the corner of the end zone over his shoulder with a linebacker right on him in coverage. The defense protested saying the catch wasn't made in bounds. Gillaspia smacked into a storage shed finishing the rep but popped right back up.

Quote of the day

"We'll only keep him on the left side and he'll get his tackle reps."

Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien on rookie offensive lineman Tytus Howard.

BONUS: Hopkins on his Madden rating

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The clock is ticking. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

If he is indeed to become an ex-Astro George Springer can officially sign with his new team starting at four PM Houston time this Sunday. Michael Brantley the same. All free agents can sign contracts starting Sunday afternoon. If the die isn't cast that Springer is leaving, it certainly feels like his renewing vows with the Astros would be an upset.

The Astros will make Springer a 18.9 million dollar qualifying offer for 2021. He will of course reject that because contract offers of at least five years and over 100 million dollars likely await. Should Springer move on the Astros would then get a compensatory draft pick. Brantley won't get anything in close range of Springer's haul-to-be but still should at least get multiyear offers. The Astros should make the qualifying offer to Brantley (if they don't they forfeit any compensation for his departure). If they don't out of fear that he'd accept the one-year deal, the Astros would look lame. I don't think it comes to that. Losing Springer would be a huge blow on multiple levels, but if somehow they were to keep Brantley while getting back Yordan Alvarez at even 80 percent of his rookie performance level the Astros' lineup would look to be in decent shape.

With MLB's economic outlook shaky for 2021, it's unreasonable to say Jim Crane and his partners should give Springer whatever he wants. A six or seven year megadollar contract for a 31-year-old player with some durability questions on his resume is an iffy proposition. At the same time, the Astros have been quite profitable in recent years (before 2020), and Crane said over the summer the Astros were positioned to be "aggressive, whatever the market looks like." 13 million Josh Reddick dollars are off the books for 2021, 10 mil of Roberto Osuna is gone. After next year more than 57 mil of Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke clear.

MLB's postseason awards will be doled out over the next couple weeks but for the first time in years the Astros don't have a credible candidate for any of the big ones (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year). The Astros do have three American League Gold Glove finalists. I think Carlos Correa wins the shortstop honor. Correa had a weak regular season at the plate but his defense was stellar, plus the two guys who divvied up the last four AL SS Gold Gloves (Francisco Lindor and Andrelton Simmons) had down seasons and aren't finalists. Quick: name the teams of fellow finalists J.P. Crawford and Niko Goodrum. Hard to see either winning over Correa. Yuli Gurriel and Kyle Tucker were also named top three at their positions. For the first time the finalist selections were driven entirely by stats and analytics.

Big week for the Rockets

With the Rockets settling on Stephen Silas as their new Head Coach, that hire coupled with the in house promotion of Rafael Stone to General Manager makes it appear as though owner Tilman Fertitta is doing more things on the cheap. The NBA economic environment is challenging and huge portions of the rest of Fertitta's portfolio are submerged in a COVID-driven bloodbath. Silas has paid his dues for a good while and most recently worked under the outstanding Rick Carlisle in Dallas. He has earned a lead chair opportunity. But with no prior head coaching experience and no bidding war for his services, Silas signs on at a much lower rate than, say, Jeff Van Gundy would have commanded. Former head coaches (and former Rockets' player rivals of the 90s) Jeff Hornacek and Nate McMillan would make for two strong Silas assistants. From their playing days if you combined Hornacek's offense and McMillan's defense into one player you'd have one of the top 20 or so greatest guards in NBA history.

Silas and Stone take the reins at a challenging time for the Rockets with their messy salary cap sheet, reduced draft capital, and one of the oldest core player groups in the league. Polite public statements aside, it's part of why Daryl Morey left. Maybe Mike D'Antoni too though that seemed more about feeling disrespected by the lack of a contract extension before this past season. D'Antoni may have overplayed his hand since he did not get fill any of the coaching vacancies elsewhere in the NBA. Only Oklahoma City remains open, and D'Antoni has gotten no run there.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. It seems sadly appropriate that the first meaningful positive in the Texans' 2020 season came in form of a COVID test result.

2. If we all commit to getting through it together, I think we can get by without a Texans' game this weekend. Remember, it's their open week, not a bye!

3. One hit wonder goodbye songs: Bronze-Terry Jacks "Seasons in the Sun" Silver-Norman Greenbaum "Spirit In The Sky" Gold-Steam "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye"

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