Lions in town and Patricia driving around
Bill O'Brien praised the Lions and mentioned how easy it was for the Texans and Lions to decide what they were going to do for joint practices. Lions head coach Matt Patricia has an injured left leg and he was in a boot. So to get around he rode his ATV around the field. He never really went too fast. Overall I would say today was a win for the Texans.
Kalil's long day
It was a roller coaster day for the Texans left tackle. He started off not getting the job done on the ground in the first set of team drills but his pass protection held up. Later, he was annihilated and placed promptly in Deshaun Watson's lap. It was an ugly rep and the start of four straight bad plays by the Texans offensive line. Kalil held up later in some pass protection situations but when he is bad, it is really bad.
Right side, strong side
Max Scharping at right guard and Seantrell Henderson at right guard had a pretty nice day. In the Texans first team drills of the day they bullied the Lions. Later there was a missed assignment on the right side that blew the play dead but overall it was a nice day for Henderson and the Texans rookie.
I am higher on Henderson than most, I think he has had a nice camp. I am not concerend with him holding down the right side. Scharping seems to get a little better each time he is out. There are still a couple of moments where he looks like a rookie but he doesn't make many mistakes twice.
The Texans wideouts feasted on the Lions secondary today. Darius Slay is the best cornerback on the Lions and DeAndre Hopkins earned a few victories over him. DeAndre Carter again had a nice day from the slot. Even after he slipped Tyron Johnson recovered to win a one-on-one rep. Not saying they won every matchup but the Texans wideouts clearly beat the Lions defensive backs today.
Will Fuller caught an over the shoulder pass on the sideline in front of the fans. The fans were going to cheer the catch no matter what but the referees at practice confirmed it was a catch. That got Deshaun Watson a high five from Bill O'Brien.
Roby's run continues
Bradley Roby has been a very nice addition to the Texans. He is the best defensive back to play opposite Johnathan Joseph in a while. He had some very nice plays today including being step for step and knocking a Lions pass catcher out of bounds to prevent him from scoring.
Karan on my wayward back, there'll be paydirt when you are done
Karan Higdon had a nice day and flashed for the running back group. He powered through a few Lions for a big play in the red zone. He and Damarea Crockett are in an absolute fight for the third running back spot. They trade the lead frequently. Joint practices Thursday and the preseason game Saturday will be huge for both of them.
Lamar Miller had one play today where he hit the edge and was flying up the field. He has the most juice we have seen him have in a long time.
Defensive line dominance
The Texans were missing Carlos Watkins and D.J. Reader today among others. That didn't matter as the defensive line worked the Lions. J.J. Watt was an absolute terror drawing multiple blockers regularly and not having it matter. Whitney Mercilus was as disruptive as ever. There was one hiccup where the linebackers and defensive line let a Lions player go nearly untouched into the end zone but other than that a very strong day for the front.
Angelo Blackson has had a nice camp as a depth player on the defensive line. He batted down a Matt Stafford pass today.
More on Mercilus
Bill O'Brien hinted after practice the team will be seeing more of what Whitney Mercilus was doing in 2016. Mercilus' most prolific pass rushing seasons were 2015 and 2016. He was injured in 2017 and last year the team used him differently limiting his pass rush opportunities. With no Jadeveon Clowney we are seeing much more pass rush opportunities for the Texans veteran.
He his a spin move on the Lions left tackle today that would have had him sending Matt Stafford into another dimension if he could have tackled the Detroit quarterback. It was glorious.
Tight end talent
Jordan Akins had an amazing over the shoulder catch with the defense draped all over him. Jordan Thomas just missed skying for a touchdown but later shook loose for a wide open score. Darren Fells won a few pass catching reps today. Lions tight end and first round pick T.J. Hockenson was filthy on a few plays. He is an incredible athlete for his size. The big fellas had a good day today.
Play of the day
DeAndre Hopkins was sliding backwards on his butt. ON. HIS. BUTT. Darius Slay was in coverage. Hopkins came down with the ball snatching it out of the air for a touchdown. It was one of the best catches of his career. My jaw dropped. Slay looked dejected. Watson just smiled. There weren't even cheers really the fans were so stunned.
Quote of the day
"We haven't seen him. We haven't really seen him since the end of the season. So, I really don't know. I can do my best to answer your question but I really don't know. When he arrives we'll handle it when he arrives, but that's his prerogative. He doesn't have to be here right now. That's part of the franchise tag and all those different things."
Bill O'Brien when asked about Jadeveon Clowney. And about those trade rumors, are you hearing all that?
"No, not at all."
Got anything to say about it?
Houston Astros skipper Joe Espada wasted no time this week at spring training by answering one of the most talked about questions of the offseason.
Espada revealed that newly-acquired free agent Josh Hader will be the team's closer and will pitch the ninth inning, with Ryan Pressly working as the setup man.
Bryan Abreu will be tapped to pitch the seventh inning, but it wouldn't shock anyone if he had the best season of the three. But after Abreu, things get interesting in the bullpen.
Who pitches the sixth inning?
Astros GM Dana Brown gave Rafael Montero a vote of confidence, saying he's “legit.”
While we have our concerns about Montero after he finished with an ERA over five last year, there's reason for hope. The nature of relief pitchers halving up and down seasons from year to year could work in Montero's favor.
And with the salary that's already committed to him, Brown will likely give him every opportunity to justify his contract. It will be fascinating to see how Espada deploys him early on. You have to think with the boss man backing Montero, Espada will be on board too.
But if he does struggle, will Espada quickly stop using him in critical situations? The good news is, the team won't often have to turn to him in high leverage situations with Abreu, Pressly, and Hader ready to handle those duties.
Be sure to watch the video above for the full discussion about the Astros 'pen, and much more!
Don't miss Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every week on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel!