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
Bradley Roby frequently cites how the #Texans struggled in the secondary last year. Said he wants to help correct that and play on the top defense in football.— Cody Stoots (@Cody_Stoots) July 26, 2019
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.
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.
I'll guesstimate about 90% of you reading this have driven a vehicle before. Most of you have probably experienced a vehicle that isn't properly aligned. You're driving down the road, let go of the wheel, and it pulls to the right or left a bit. Or, you have to hold the wheel a little tilted one way or the other in order for the car to drive straight. Definite signs you need an alignment. Driving a vehicle that way will wear your tires faster and start to cause other issues.
In baseball terms, the vehicle has four wheels: owner, general manager, manager, scouting/front office. While some may say the GM and scouting/front office are technically one wheel, I'd argue that by pointing out the many times a scouting department and GM have differed on players. It happens in every sport. In order for an organization to truly move in lockstep, they must all be on the same page as far as a common goal and how to get there.
I've often felt the Astros have not always been fully aligned. Going all the way back to the Drayton McClane era, I'm trying to remember when all four tires of the Astros vehicle were perfectly aligned. Gerry Hunsicker was there for about 10 years before growing tired of Uncle Drayton's crap. McClane went through nine different managers and three GMs in his tenure as the owner from 1993-2011.
When Jim Crane bought the team after the 2011 season, he himself has already gone through six managers and three GMs so far. Now he's on the verge of hiring a seventh manager. Crane's original dream team of Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch would still be the GM and manager, respectively, had the sign stealing scandal not been blown out of proportion. He hired Luhnow to come in and reshape the franchise and they burned through a few managers while the team struggled. Hinch was brought in to finish the job. He and Luhnow did that by winning the 2017 World Series and starting a dynasty.
When Crane decided to fire them both after the scandal, it left a void. Crane wasn't always pleased with the way things were run, but he was happy with the results. Enter James Click and Dusty Baker. Why Crane thought an analytics guy like Click and an old school baseball guy like Dusty would work, I'm not sure. But it did. They brought Crane the 2022 World Series title. Click was not brought back because of his philosophical differences with Crane. Dusty came back for this past season and retired. Dana Brown was brought in to replace Click. Now he and Crane are looking for another manager.
Joe Espada seems to be the simplest choice. He was Dusty's right-hand man all these years and the players seem to love him. Brad Ausmus is another candidate, but he doesn't have the qualifications, as he hasn't won or done anything significant outside being a former Astro. Craig Counsel has been mentioned as well. His .531 winning percentage in Milwaukee doesn't strike me as someone who'll get the fans excited. Others mentioned have been Buck Showalter, Rodney Linares, Mark Kotsay, and Ron Washington.
No matter who they hire, he needs to be fully aligned with the other three wheels. Every one of the wheels needs to know their lanes and operate within them. Crane needs to be the one who ensures these guys are all on the same page. He also needs to be the one to allow them to do their jobs without his interference. Personally, I'd like to see Ron Washington hired. “Uncle Ron” may be 71 years old, a few years younger than Dusty, but he's a guy players love. If not him, Espada is the clear choice, according to Ken Hoffman.
Whenever you get a new tire, you need an alignment and to balance them. This helps ensure a smooth ride. The Astros have a window that'll remain open the next couple of years at least. I'd hate for them to spend those years veering one way or the other and unnecessarily wearing out the tires. I wonder if Crane will opt for the road hazard protection warranty when he buys the new tire? Hopefully, he has run-flats, just in case.