The first day in pads were big for a few different Texans

11 observations from Texans training camp, July 27

If you missed day two you can find them here.

First day in pads

There wasn't a ton of thumping in pads but there was some solid work. The defensive line had a solid day despite not having J.J. Watt or Jadeveon Clowney. The defensive backs and wideouts got good work in today with each other as well. The running backs had a long day with the linebackers.

Learning Lonnie

Imagine being a rookie and trying to cover DeAndre Hopkins. This rep didn't go Lonnie Johnson's way but after some quick instruction and another chance later the rookie won a rep against Hopkins via solid technique and being physical. A huge asset for Johnson is he seems to pick things up quickly.

Testing Tytus

Tytus Howard has a solid day. There were certainly some moments where he looked less than impressive but he held his own on a few different reps including a pseudo-pancake of D.J. Reader. He got a little tired and the technique was a little loose later in the practice. These early days will be huge for testing his conditioning and ultimately improving it. O'Brien noted he worked more at left guard but got some tackle work as well. Howard said he uses Matt Kalil as a resource to learn.

Key piece on the line

D.J. Reader was a terror today for all the offensive linemen. Wherever he worked he annoyed the offense. He got into the backfield more than a few times. He will be a key piece to the Texans defensive line this season. Nobody else can do his job.

Welcome to the NFL moment for Scharping

Max Scharping looks the part and he had a decent day on the offensive line. He did have some moments where he will likely want those reps back. There's plenty to work on for the second round pick but there are moments where it is clear why the Texans invested in him.

Healthy Heath

Joel Heath has been around the Texans for a few years and has been in and out of the lineup. He had a really good day Saturday and showcased his length and athleticism. There are plenty of options for the Texans to choose from on the defensive line but the numbers will start filling up quick. Heath will need to build on this day and stay healthy but he looked solid.

Tougher than college

Fullback Cullen Gillaspia had a long day. His first year playing fullback was last season for his college team Texas A&M. There were moments where he looked like he had a tough time with the strength of some of the defenders he was asked to block. He also had a few miscues in the passing game. O'Brien mentioned technique and fundamentals are an early emphasis for the younger players.

Omenihu stands out

Rookie defensive lineman Charles Omenihu stood out a few times. He flashed strength and speed on a couple of occasions. He looked like he was more ready than some for pads. I will be anxious to see a rep against Matt Kalil down the line for Omenihu to see if the veteran can use his experience to tame the young defender.

Johnnie Dixon's opportunity

​Former Ohio State wide receiver Johnnie Dixon has been stringing together solid days. He has an opportunity for this team with the final two wideout spots up for grabs and maybe some special teams action as well. He has a lot of competition but among the young wideouts he had one of the best plays of the day. He used his agility to dip away from a defender and create a ton of separation.

Play of the day

Will Fuller had a couple of plays where nobody was even close to him. He's making it look easy.

Quote of the day

Texans OL Tytus Howard

Cody Stoots

"70 yards"

Texans OL Tytus Howard when asked if he can still throw the ball far. Howard was a former high school quarterback.

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Altuve's homer starting the scoring for Houston on Friday night. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
After a solid showing to take the three of the four-game series in Arlington against the Rangers to start the week, the Astros returned home for three against the Diamondbacks in a weekend series. They would have a slow start to the opener but would ultimately come away victorious.

Final Score (10 innings): Astros 4, Diamondbacks 3

Astros' Record: 87-60, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek (3-4)

Losing Pitcher: Tyler Clippard (1-1)

Bielak makes the impromptu start

With Luis Garcia having to move his start ahead by a day on Thursday instead of Friday with Framber Valdez's finger cut, Brandon Bielak made a start for Houston in the opener against Arizona. He didn't go as deep as he probably would have wanted and certainly ventured out of his comfort zone with traffic on the bases.

He loaded the bases in the top of the first, allowing a single and two walks, but was able to strand all three to keep it a scoreless game. He rebounded with a 1-2-3 second, but he dealt with a threat again in the third as back-to-back singles pressured him to start the inning. He would get back-to-back strikeouts, but that's as far as he would go as Houston moved on to Blake Taylor. Taylor got the final out of the third on one pitch, then erased a two-out double in the top of the fourth.

Altuve breaks up the no-no with a go-ahead homer

Brooks Raley took over in the top of the fifth, but in his three batters, he faced allowed a single while getting two outs before Cristian Javier took over to end the frame. Javier allowed the first run of the game in the top of the sixth, a leadoff solo homer to Kole Calhoun to put the Diamondbacks in front 1-0 before he finished the inning.

Madison Bumgarner didn't allow a single hit to the Astros through the first five and two-thirds innings. He allowed a one-out walk in the bottom of the sixth, which proved costly as Jose Altuve would get the first knock of the game for Houston, a two-run go-ahead homer. Phil Maton was the next reliever for the Astros in the top of the seventh, maintaining the new one-run lead by erasing a leadoff single.

Astros get the win in extras

The Diamondbacks tied it up in the top of the eighth against Kendall Graveman, getting a leadoff single followed by a walk, then later an RBI single to knot things up 2-2. Houston stranded a runner in the bottom of the eighth, then brought in Ryan Pressly, who tossed a 1-2-3 top of the ninth to keep the game tied.

Despite getting the winning run in scoring position with a leadoff ground-rule double by Jason Castro to start the bottom of the ninth, they would strand it as the game went to extras. Arizona scored their free runner in the top of the tenth, getting a sac fly to move it to third then going in front on an RBI single.

The Astros matched that and more in the bottom of the inning, moving their runner to third on a lineout to start the frame, followed by an intentional walk to Yordan Alvarez. Jake Meyers tied the game with an RBI single, then after another walk to load the bases, Chas McCormick was hit by a pitch to bring in the winning run, moving the Astros closer to clinching their playoff berth.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will have a start time of 6:10 PM Central on Saturday. Tyler Gilbert (2-2, 3.15 ERA) is expected to make a start for Arizona, while Lance McCullers Jr. (12-4, 3.12 ERA) will be on the mound for Houston.

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