THE DEFENSE PUT ON A SHOW FOR THE FANS IN THEIR FIRST OPEN PRACTICE

11 observations from Texans training camp, August 1

@edclarke03/Eddie Clarke

Plenty of juice for the fans

Photo by @edclarke03/Eddie Clarke.

The Texans did what was probably one of their longest situational team work sessions of camp. There was a lot of simulation of a game and Bill O'Brien stressed how important it was to get that worked out and then build on it from a two-minute situation to simulating a four-minute simulation as well.

Hopkins vs vets

DeAndre Hopkins worked over Johnathan Joseph in their first rep in one-on-one drills. He easily separated from the veteran corner and caught the ball one-handed falling out of bounds as Joseph closed. The next time the two players matched up Joseph didn't even finish the rep and had Hopkins beat. The quarterback threw the ball and it sailed way past Hopkins. A win for Joseph.

After the rep, the veteran corner, with a little jawing, started to discuss what went wrong with Hopkins' route and started to fix it with him. Joseph is such an asset having played so much football.

Keep writing his name down

I had been watching drills for mere moments and the above video occurred. Tyron Johnson is going to make this team. He has been the fourth best wideout in camp. He can run all the routes and I would wager can work inside and outside well enough the Texans would be comfortable with him doing each. He's fun and easy to root for each day.

Defense wins the day

The defense were the big winners today. They got to Deshaun Watson a few times and were terrors to most of the wideouts. This is to be expected with question marks at some of the spots for the starting offensive line and the defense having almost every starter from last year back as well. They're ahead but the offense was able to rattle off some yards. It wasn't smooth for the offense as much as start and stop.

Tytus the key? 

Tytus Howard had a day off and will be back working with the team Saturday. The various players filling in for him didn't bring his level of success against the defense. He is really carving out a nice role for this team. If you had said the Texans would draft a starter with their first round pick, we all would have been happy right?

Whitney's way back

Whitney Mercilus is in the final year of his contract with the Texans and after a down year last year looks poised to punish offenses. He has worked the Texans tackles all camp rarely coming away with a loss in his rep. Today he flashed through the line forcing Watson to step up into more pressure. He could be a key player for this pass rush if he rushes more than last year.

Ball security issues

I wouldn't put this on Deshaun Watson as much as the right side of the offensive line but there were a couple of forced fumbles. J.J. Watt shook loose and knocked the ball out of Watson's hands. Another couple players got a forced fumble or affected the throw by Watson. Not a good showing for the right guards and tackles today.

Backup spots up for grabs

Not only are there plenty of starting spots up for grabs on the offensive line, the players who don't end up starting are battling with each other for the few backup spots. The Texans always keep an extra tackle, extra interior player who can snap the ball, and another lineman. That would be eight. It is hard to see them keeping nine. Plenty of spots to be had if someone can separate themselves from the pack.

Coutee's new workouts

Bill O'Brien above mentioned some of the various things he wants Coutee to work on now that he is healthy. Coutee is healthy after changing up his offseason work. He mentioned more stretching and he looks to have put on some weight as well. If healthy, he should be an extremely solid option for Watson.

Play of the day

DeAndre Hopkins one-handed on the sideline against Johnathan Joseph. I had to go to it again. My word.

Quote of the day

Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien

@Cody_Stoots/Cody Stoots

"There's probably a hundred things spoken about relative to your decision to do something whether it's with the team that currently exists or something outside the team. We talk everyday. We've got a great structure of communication."

Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien on how the team discusses potential moves in and outside the building.

BONUS: Watt loves the troops

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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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