11 Texans questions ahead of training camp

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There's plenty more questions around the Texans but this is about the almost 90 men scheduled to take the field this week with hopes of making that finale 53.

Who benefits from Clowney's absence?

Brennan Scarlett and Whitney Mercilus are the two main benefactors. They will each get opportunities to be Clowney in camp and the team has to prepare as if their franchise tagged defender isn't showing anytime soon.

For Scarlett, he has a chance to continue to elevate his game and become a key piece on this team. He has had a few big plays but adding some more the resume would go a very long way. He's shown a flash of being able to cover from the outside spot and if he can continue that success that is a weapon for the defense.

With Mercilus, he gets to be Whitney Mercilus. I can't explain how or why the Texans used him the way they did last season. It seemed like a waste of what he does best which is rush the passer. Letting Mercilus rush the passer is the best use of him.

What will Will look like?

​Will Fuller should be ready from day one. That is great news considering he had an injury that ended his 2018 campaign. I can make a solid argument he is one of the most important players on this team. He might not be a full participant for the whole camp, but showing signs of the game breaking talent he possess will be a fun watch.

Who is Johnathan Joseph's starting partner at corner?

Yet another season sees Joseph manning one side of the field. Who ends up across from him is your guess as good as mine. Aaron Colvin might be better suited for inside play. Bradley Roby is a big-ticket free agent. Lonnie Johnson Jr. is a player the Texans would love to see end up there. If I had to guess, Roby is the guy but let's see what camp delivers to us.

Tytus time?

Will the first round pick, the much criticsized first round pick, play left tackle? Will he play right tackle? Will he play tackle at all? Those are all sub questions of this big question. Where he lines up now might not be where he lines up week one.

Scharping enough to cut?

This isn't so much about Scharping as much as if the team will have enough faith in the second round pick. If he is serviceable from day one, it could spell doom for some veterans vying for a spot. His potential versatility across the line could mean Matt Kalil, Seantrell Henderson, or Senio Kelemete are on their way out.

Keke are you healthy? 

Training camp was almost wasted for Coutee last year due to injury. It is simple, if he is healthy he's one of the most dangerous players on the offense. If he isn't healthy he leaves one of the biggest holes on the offense. There isn't anyone close to being able to replicate his production.

Four and five who's alive?

The Texans did a poor job with the makeup of their wide receiver room coming out of camp. Coutee's injury put them in a bind but Sammie Coates never made it on the field and Bruce Ellington didn't work as intended. They have a chance to better themselves and I will say, they clearly saw something in Smith as he made the team. Smith looks worlds better than his rookie year. A totally different wideout. If it is as simple as DeAndre Carter here, then so be it. But, if not then Tyron Johnson and Johnnie Dixon could sneak onto the team.

Who will return?

I have no idea who will be the returners for this team. This will be one of the better battles but DeAndre Carter should be the favorite if he gets on the field fast enough. It wouldn't shock me to see a lot of different guys get a turn trying to win this job. Ultimately, if Carter could solidify the spot, it would help the Texans a lot.

I Don't Know is third

I don't believe the team's third running back is on this team right now. If he is, we could see treatment of the running back room a lot like last year where they lean primarily on just the top two backs. Buddy Howell doesn't seem like he is going to ever get a chance to carry the ball so he is barely considered a running back. If I had to pick before any action I would say Josh Ferguson.

Will he be a factor?

Cullen Gillaspia is on this team as a fullback and special teams ace. But will he matter? Will he get the chance to impress with his athleticism on offense? Can he learn the position further after playing it just one season in college? He's a new-age fullback so hopefully the Texans treat him as such.

Who is a long shot to roster spot?

Chris Johnson is a safety from North Alabama. He is 6'3" and ran some fast 40 times in the lead up to the draft. There is room for an athletic special team player who could learn the safety spot over the course of the season. Johnny Dwight played at Alabama. You don't play at Alabama unless there is something there. He didn't play a ton, but Nick Saban let him stick around.

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Houston's winning streak moves to six

Eighth-inning rally powers Astros to series sweep over Rangers

Yuli Gurriel brought in the go-ahead run late in Sunday's game. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Winners in the first three games of this series and their last five games overall, the Astros continued their climb towards the A's for first place in the AL West. They completed the four-game sweep, ending a successful homestand on a positive note before heading on the road.

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 2

Astros' Record: 24-17, tied for first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Brooks Raley (2-2)

Losing Pitcher: Joely Rodriguez (1-2)

Astros strike first, McCullers Jr. goes six scoreless

After the Rangers went down 1-2-3 in the top of the first, Houston grabbed an early lead off the bat of Alex Bregman. He provided the third single of the inning, a one-out RBI to put the Astros in front 1-0, a score which would hold steady for a while. Another run didn't come across until the bottom of the fifth when Houston would load the bases with one out when Carlos Correa would get an RBI groundball to double the lead to 2-0.

Lance McCullers Jr. did well with the small lead, backing up his recent eight-inning gem with a quality start against Texas. He allowed a couple of hits each in the third and fourth but would erase the runners with no damage allowed. The Rangers threatened in the top of the sixth with a leadoff double before the runner moved to third on a wild pitch, putting him in a great position with no outs. McCullers Jr. would come away unscathed, finishing the inning and his day by retiring the next three batters. His final line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 95 P.

Rangers tie it against Scrubb

First out of Houston's bullpen was Andre Scrubb, and he would not fare as well as the Astros starter. A leadoff single turned into a two-run game-tying homer, making it 2-2 before Scrubb would sit down the next three in order. Still tied in the top of the eighth, Brooks Raley had a terrific inning, striking out the three batters he faced.

Houston rallies ahead in the eighth for the four-game sweep

The top of Houston's order mounted a threat in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with one out to try and regain the lead. Yuli Gurriel would come through with the go-ahead at-bat, getting a sac fly to put the Astros back in front 3-2. A two-out walk loaded the bases again, setting up Chas McCormick to provide two insurance runs on a two-RBI single.

Myles Straw added one more on an RBI single, making it a four-run game at 6-2 heading to the ninth. Enoli Paredes made his long-awaited return from the IL, appearing for the first time since April 8th to try and close things out in the ninth. He tossed a scoreless inning, finishing off the four-game sweep, extending Houston's winning streak to six games, and keeping them in step with Oakland for the AL West lead.

Up Next: After a day off on Monday, the Astros will begin a six-game road trip on Tuesday. They'll kick off a three-game set in Oakland against the A's at 8:40 PM, an exciting matchup to determine who will head into the weekend atop the division. While Cristian Javier (3-1, 3.08 ERA) is the expected starter for Houston, Oakland has not yet determined their rotation for the series.

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