The Lions were in town for joint practice to push the Texans a little

11 observations from Texans training camp for Aug. 14

11 observations from Texans training camp for Aug. 14

@EdClarke03/Eddie Clarke

Matt Kalil

If you missed Monday's observations you can find them right here

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.

Wideouts winning

​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?

"Nope."

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Can the Texans make the playoffs in DeMeco Ryans' first season as head coach? Photo by Getty Images.

Back in the 1950s, NFL Commissioner Bert Bell said his goal for the league was parity and “on any given Sunday, any team could beat any other team.”

Bell’s quote was turned into a football movie, Any Given Sunday starring Al Pacino in1999. True to form, the film broke even at the box office.

Fast forward, while it’s not an absolute must-win game, it’s a “given” that the Houston Texans should give serious thought to defeating the 9-5 Cleveland Browns on Sunday at NRG Stadium.

With just three games remaining, Commissioner Bell would smile at the AFC standings with three teams bunched on top with 8-6 marks: Jaguars, Colts and Texans. Their records may be even but they’re not equal.

As things stand today, because of an intricate tiebreaker system that would have Albert Einstein switching his major to phys ed, the Jags have a 76-percent chance of making the playoffs, the Colts are 64-percent likely to play in the post-season, and the Texans are at 52-percent for the playoffs.

Talk about parity (with a boost from the NFL’s expanded playoff system started in 2020), with only three weeks left in the season, only three of the AFC’s 16 teams are eliminated from the post-season: Jets, Titans and Patriots.

Vegas oddsmakers have been in a tizzy over the Texans-Browns game. The opening line had the Texans favored by 2-1/2 points. Heading into the weekend, the Browns now are the betting choice by 3 points, a wild 5-1/2 point swing. Of course, it was assumed that Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud would escape concussion protocol and play against the Browns. That doesn’t appear the case as Case Keenum (or Casey Keenum as one Houston news anchor calls him) will be behind center for the Texans.

Keenum led the Texans to a last-minute victory over the Tennessee Titans (cosplay Houston Oilers) last week. So it’s not like the Texans are in desperate straits at quarterback.

Playing quarterback has been hazardous duty in the AFC this season. All three leaders in the AFC probably will start understudy quarterbacks on Sunday. C.J. Beathard likely will replace Trevor Lawrence who’s in concussion protocol for the Jaguars. Gardner Minshew replaced Colts starter Anthony Richardson early this season and has hung onto the job.

As Ron Popeil used to say, wait there’s more. Veteran Joe Flacco has risen from the scrap heap and will quarterback the Browns against the Texans on Sunday. Like Keenum, Flacco led his team to a narrow win last week. But Flacco had three interceptions against the Bears, while Keenum threw only one pass to the other team last week.

Seven teams in the AFC will qualify for the playoffs. Right now, the Texans are No. 8, on the outside looking in. The Jaguars are the No. 4 seed, the Colts are No. 7. The Texans still have a better than even shot at the post-season with their final two games against the Titans and Colts.

If they lose Sunday to the Browns, the Texans’ playoff chances drop to 23 percent and as Scarlett O’Hara would say, they’ll have to depend on the kindness of strangers to make the post-season.

But if the Texans win Sunday, it will lock up a winning season for the Texans. Their pre-season win total was just 5.5 games.

If the Texans win out, they will match their total wins for the past three seasons … combined. And DeMeco Ryans might start making room for his Coach of the Year trophy.

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