A few players bounce back as the pads stay on for another day

11 observations from Texans training camp, July 28

@edclarke03/Eddie Clarke

If you missed the Saturday July 27 observations you can find them here

Good day for Tytus

Texans OL Tytus Howard at Training Camp 2019

@edclarke03/Eddie Clarke

Tytus Howard had a very nice day. He worked a lot with some of the veterans getting an off day. The most impressive rep was him stoning D.J. Reader and stopping the veteran defensive lineman cold in his tracks. He had some nice reps against other rushers too. He even earned a measure of revenge on Joel Heath after Heath won some reps in the first padded practice. He moved around really well too getting out and leading the charge on a few blocks.

Miller's the leader

Lamar Miller at Texans Training Camp 2019

@Cody_Stoots/Cody Stoots

Lamar Miller is the best running back in camp for the Texans and it isn't even close. That shouldn't surprise you. What may surprise you is this might be the best version of Lamar Miller the Texans have ever seen. Going into his third year in Houston last year Miller slimmed up a little. This year I would say he is trimmed up. Not smaller, but lighter was the way he spoke about his body. His level of scoot, if you will, is the best I have seen it.

Concerns about Foreman

​Running back D'Onta Foreman has done a great job getting his body ready for camp. He hasn't done a great job being a running back yet. He did not have a good drill when the backs were practicing pass blocking against defensive backs. He struggled and didn't even see any premier pass rushers while doing so. A few of his movements were sluggish. With a break coming up soon how he finishes the week will be something to monitor.

More Moore

A.J. Moore was singled out by head coach Bill O'Brien on Sunday as a player who is a special teams contributor and thouroughly relishes the opportunities. Well, Moore is getting it done on defense too. He has had a strong camp. Today while watching a blocking drill Moore came running by in our sight line with the ball. I was confused at first until I realized he had run a pick-six back from his drill down the field.

Pushing for a spot

Former Oklahoma State wideout Tyron Johnson had a really solid first day and then a couple of decent days. He was back to a good day today showcasing his various talents. He has a chance to force the Texans into keeping six wide receivers on this roster. He has strong hounds, is physical, and seems to pick things up with ease. It is worth noting, before ending up at Oklahoma State he was a five-star recruit who picked LSU.

Under the radar push up front

Carlos Watkins and Angelo Blackson had a few nice plays on Sunday. They are a part of a room that has some severe competition if you'd like to stick around the Texans. Albert Huggins who was at Clemson last year had a nice play that caught my eye as well. There is a lot of talent in the defensive line room. This could be one of the most competitive units on the team.

Not as Scharping

Offensive lineman Max Scharping had a day that left something to be desired. He struggled with extending his arms and really getting into defenders. One play it took him a second to establish his grip but once he got set and could plant he slowed the rusher down. Unfortunately for him he was deep into the pocket by then.

Watt a monster, just like we like it

J.J. Watt worked today but nothing looked like work for him. He took a few strolls to the QB or the dummy posing as the QB today. Veterans and rookies alike had no shot against Watt. This isn't shocking but just your reminder we are witnessing one of the all-time greats.

Gilly bounces back

Fullback Cullen Gillaspia had a much better day today in pads. He held his own in the individual blocking drills looking very strong. I was worried after Saturday where he looked a little over matched but he handled his challenges today in the drills well. When he gets to working against linemen and linebackers he will need every ounce of his being to make sure he nails the assignments on them. He did whiff on one block in a team play that should have been and easy one for him to finish but it was a much better day today for him. He is smooth running routes.

Play of the day

Jordan Akins and Deshaun Watson hooked up for two magnificent plays back-to-back. The first saw Akins sky into the air and rip down a Watson bullet with one hand to move the chains for a huge gain. The very next play Watson put it right on Akins and away from the defender for a score. It was an amazing throw both times, showcasing Watson's pinpoint accuracy.

Quote of the day

Karan Higdon at Texans Training Camp 2019

@edclarke03/Eddie Clarke

"It's wide open."

Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien talking about the team's running back spots after Lamar Miller. There are a lot of names, and maybe even some not on the roster, to fill our the two spots behind Miller.

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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