A couple of key players are back while a few are out with injury

4 observations from Texans practice Aug. 19


@EdClarke03/Eddie Clarke

If you missed the observations from the Texans preseason game two you can find them right here

Nick Martin, Reader return

The Texans welcomed back starting center Nick Martin and defensive lineman D.J. Reader to practice. Reader was a terror, as he has been this preseason. It was just shells, no pads today, but Reader flashed right through the offensive line to disrupt the play.

Martin's return moved Zach Fulton back to guard. It will be interesting to see if Martin gets game action against the Cowboys. He could probably use the reps to catch up.

Tytus Howard and Matt Kalil are down, for now

There was no work Monday from Tytus Howard and Matt Kalil.

Howard has a broken finger and will likely miss the rest of the preseason if I was guessing. Bill O'Brien said he wouldn't expect Howard to practice this week but he did expect him to be ready for the game week one against the Saints.

Kalil has worked sparingly recently. He practiced last Sunday and was off Monday. The team was off Tuesday and then Wednesday he worked against the Lions and said he was healthy. He hasn't practiced since and didn't play in the game against Detroit. O'Brien said he thinks the veteran could practice this week.

Roderick Johnson has been getting more snaps in place of Kalil and has held up nicely in his opportunities. Deshaun Watson said after the preseason game he is comfortable with Johnson at left tackle. Zach Fulton is the guy in place of Howard at guard. He has the ability to play all three inside slots and at this point he has played all three inside spots or at least practiced there.

The best Texans tight end: Jordan Akins

Jordan Akins started camp under the radar. Jordan Thomas had flashed the first few days. Kahale Warring was an exciting draft pick. Darren Fells was the blocking expert. Since then Thomas got hurt, Warring has barely been on the field, and Fells is still better at blocking than catching the ball.

Akins has gotten better and better each week. His hands have had a hiccup here or there but Monday he made an amazing over the shoulder catch in 7-on-7 drills. He also can get behind the defense with ease as he beat his man and nearly hauled in a long Deshaun Watson pass for a score before a defensive back came over and broke up the play.

Thomas has been disappointing since his return to the field. Monday he had a drop on an easy play. Bill O'Brien mentioned after the second preseason game Thomas needed to get better at his route running. He started off hot but the injury and subsequent struggle to get back on track has derailed him. Warring isn't even practicing right now.

The roster competitions for offense skill position players

These are currently the competitions as I see them for the skill position players.

Potentially two wideout spots if they're keeping six wide receivers. One spot if they're keeping five.

Tyron Johnson - Vyncint Smith - Steven Mitchell

Tyron Johnson will be on someone else's 53-man roster if he gets cut is my assumption. So would Smith. Mitchell is a long way from supplanting either slot wideout but if Keke Coutee's injury lingers he could make the team.

Potentially two running back spots if they are keeping four. One spot if they are keeping three.

Karan Higdon - Taiwan Jones - Demarea Crockett - Buddy Howell

I don't have a good read on this position. They love special teams usefulness and all these guys provide that to some extent in various ways. It will be interesting to see if Howell's impressive finish to the Lions game can get him in the mix more.

One tight end spot with the assumption Kahale Warring heads to the injured reserve.

Darren Fells - Jerell Adams

Adams is good enough to be on someone's 53-man roster just can't see him cracking the Texans roster unless they keep four and IR Warring. With Warring, he's so far behind and has played so little football in his life a "redshirt" year might do him well.

Bonus: Joseph's brain

Johnathan Joseph is always talking on the sidelines. It feels like everyone sits under his learning tree. From Bradley Roby to linebacker Dylan Cole is always encouraging or talking about a rep with the defenders.

Even when Joseph wins a rep against an offensive player he shows great sportsmanship in victory.

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Houston loses to end the road trip

Dodgers get best of Odorizzi to split series with Astros

Jake Odorizzi allowed four home runs over three innings against the Dodgers on Wednesday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

After spoiling the night of many Dodgers fans in the opener of this two-game series in Los Angeles the night prior, the Astros returned to the stadium to a fresh set of hostile fans, looking to get the mini-sweep. This one went much more in favor of the home team, though, as the Dodgers would ride three big innings to start the game to the win for the series split.

Final Score: Dodgers 7, Astros 5

Astros' Record: 65-43, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Max Scherzer (9-4)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (4-6)

Odorizzi gets shelled

After a Michael Brantley solo home in the top of the first run against Max Scherzer, making his Dodger debut, it looked like the Astros may continue their momentum from the night before to grab hold of this game as well. However, that all changed in the bottom of the inning, as the Dodgers would tee off against Jake Odorizzi.

In that inning, he allowed four runs, a leadoff solo shot by Mookie Betts, then later a three-run blast by Will Smith. Betts made it 2-for-2 with solo homers in the bottom of the second, extending the lead to 5-1. Things went from bad to worse in the third, with Los Angeles getting their fourth home run, this one for two runs to make it a 7-1 game. Odorizzi would finish the third but go no further.

Scherzer K's 10 over seven innings in his Dodger debut

Houston tried to start clawing back into it in the top of the fourth, getting a second run against Scherzer with a two-out RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, trimming the lead to five runs at 5-2. First out of Houston's bullpen was Yimi Garcia in the bottom of the fourth, and he tossed the first 1-2-3 inning for Houston. Rafael Montero was next in the bottom of the fifth, working around a leadoff double followed by a walk for a scoreless inning.

Montero remained in the game in the bottom of the sixth, still 7-2, and would get another scoreless inning, this time sitting down the Dodgers in order. Scherzer finished his quality debut for his new team in the top of the seventh, erasing a leadoff walk to complete seven innings while allowing two runs.

Astros lose to split the series with Dodgers

Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he, too, would get through a scoreless inning by erasing a two-out single. In the game-within-the-game, the Dodgers brought in Joe Kelly for the top of the eighth, who notched two strikeouts to bring none other than Carlos Correa to the plate, setting up a rematch of the well-known incident that led to the "pouty face" clip from 2020. Carlos Correa won this round, launching a 405-foot homer off of Kelly to make it a four-run game at 7-3.

Phil Maton kept the score there, stranding two runners in the bottom of the eighth to send the 7-3 game to the top of the ninth, where the Dodgers would bring in Kenley Jansen. After a leadoff single, Kyle Tucker would get the Astros within two runs on a two-run homer, making it 7-5. That's as close as they would get, as Jansen would regroup to get the next three batters out to wrap up the loss for Houston.

Up Next: With this road trip completed, the Astros will have a quick turnaround as they catch a late flight back to Houston then turn around with a game Thursday at 7:10 PM Central to open a four-game series with the Twins. Framber Valdez (7-2, 3.01 ERA) will take the mound for Houston in the opener, while Minnesota will counter with Griffin Jax (1-1, 6.41 ERA).

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