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.
After Houston fell to the Texas Rangers in Game 7 of the ALCS, the national media couldn't wait to pile on the Astros, their dynasty, and fanbase. A perfect example of this came from Dan Clark, who said the Astros choked or cheated in every season outside of 2022.
The Houston Astros have been great for nine years, but how will history look back at them, winning it all just once?
'15 - ALDS choke
'16 - Missed playoffs
'17 - Cheated
'18 - ALCS choke
'19 - World Series choke
'20 - ALCS choke
'21 - World Series choke
'22 - 💍
'23 - ALCS choke
— Dan Clark (@DanClarkSports) October 24, 2023
Clearly, this take is totally ridiculous. Every time a team loses, it doesn't mean they choked. Sometimes the other team is better, and you just got beat. However, if you asked most fans, they would probably tell you the Astros had some great opportunities and weren't able to cash in.
So, just for fun, let's go through Dan's list and discuss if he has a point. And these are just my opinions below. I'm sure plenty of Astros fans will feel differently, and that's fine. John and I don't agree on all of these in the video above, so be sure to watch for the full discussion.
With that disclaimer out of the way, off we go.
2015: These were the baby Astros. Nobody expected them to get to the division series against the Royals. Houston went 70-92 the previous season, so this was a big jump in 2015. They lost to the Royals in 5 games in the ALDS and Kansas City went on to win the World Series over the Mets, taking the series 4 games to 1. The Astros did lead this series 2-1, but lost Games 4 and 5 pretty convincingly. Not a choke.
2016: Didn't even make the playoffs, further proving 2015 wasn't a choke. This team wasn't ready yet. They exceeded expectations in 2015 and took a step back in 2016. Not a choke.
2017: Won the World Series. While Dan will say it doesn't count because they cheated, I say, at least they won. Houston fans are well aware the Dodgers and Yankees had their own style of funny business going on in the video rooms, too. At least the Astros didn't cheat AND lose that year. They won the title so clearly, not a choke.
2018: Boston won the most games in baseball during the regular season (108). They won the ALCS 4 games to 1 over Houston and went on to win the World Series. The ALCS series wasn't close, and Jose Altuve had knee surgery immediately following the season. Boston was later punished by MLB for cheating in 2018. Not a choke.
2019: He might have a point here. This was the best roster the Astros ever had in my opinion. Houston never won a home game in this World Series. Heading home with a 3-2 lead in the series, the Astros were unable to close the deal against the Nationals (sounds familiar). The Astros won 107 games in the regular season, more than any other team. The top of their rotation was Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Zack Greinke. They choked.
2020: This was the weird covid season. The Astros didn't have a winning record in the regular season and got down 3-0 to the Rays in the ALCS. Houston won three straight and lost in Game 7. Both Justin Verlander and Yordan Alvarez were injured and unavailable that year. Not a choke.
2021: The Braves were just better and won the World Series in 6 games. Atlanta hammered Houston 7-0 in Game 6, securing the series. Lance McCullers was the ace of this squad and hurt his arm in the ALDS. Verlander didn't pitch in 2021. Not a choke.
2022: Astros win the World Series in 6 games against Philly.
2023: This one I could be convinced either way. I lean to it not being a choke because this team barely made the playoffs, winning just 90 games. They finished with the same record as the Rangers, and won the division because of head-to-head record. The Astros were down 2-0 in the series to start.
However, they did return to Houston up 3-2 needing only 1 win in 2 games to advance. But once again, the Astros couldn't win a game at home, and lost the series in 7 games. They also went 2-14 with runners in scoring position in Game 7, so that looks pretty bad. Inconsistency plagued this team all season, and it showed up again in the ALCS.
I'm willing to say the 2019 World Series against the Nationals was a choke for the reasons I listed above. And I'm kinda on the fence about 2023. The Rangers were the better team for most of the regular season, but not winning 1 game at home in the ALCS is hard to ignore.
Maybe you can convince me one way or the other in the comments! Go 'Stros!