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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Another tough loss for the Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans started fast but faltered late as the New York Jets hand Houston their ninth loss of the season 21-14. Here are 11 observations from the game.

1. Starting safety Justin Reid was benched for the game. David Culley said after the game it was his decision as head coach and he would keep the matter internal with Reid.

2. This is the third defender benched for disciplinary reasons this season. Reid joins Zach Cunningham and Desmond King as players who missed time for discipline.

3. Justin Reid told Fox 26 he was benched because he had a disagreement with the coaching staff. He also said he was shocked the Texans benched him. You have to wonder if the “culture” the team is building is right when one of the more likable and personable players falls victim to their rules. Reid, who is a free agent this offseason, could leave the Texans.

4. Tyrod Taylor had a couple of nice plays early on for the Texans. His willingness to take some shots downfield was refreshing and led to a touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks.

5. Rookie tight end Brevin Jordan found the end zone. He has played well in recent weeks after finally getting on the field. Jordan is playing over Jordan Akins as Akins was a healthy scratch again this week.

6. Tytus Howard started at left tackle with mixed results. Howard has struggled to find his way at guard but could be a long-term option at tackle if given the chance.

7. The offensive line overall played poorly after some early success. The pass rush of the Jets got going and the run blocking was poor again. Lane Taylor played at left guard some, with Max Scharping also playing some at that spot.

8. The offense was horrendous after the two scoring drives. The Texans amassed 202 net yards with 91 yards coming on those two scoring drives. Houston gained just 49 net yards after their opening three drives.

9. After the game, I asked David Culley if he would be making a change with his play-caller. Culley stood behind offensive coordinator Tim Kelly and said he would remain the team’s play-caller.

10. Second-year defensive lineman Ross Blacklock had two horrible errors that handed the Jets a chance to turn three points into seven points. Blacklock got a personal foul on a field goal attempt giving the Jets a first down. The very next play his offsides penalty erased a sack. Each week Blacklock falls even more behind a bevy of players drafted after him who contribute positively on a regular basis.

11. The loss to another bottom-dweller has the Texans back in the second spot in the 2022 NFL Draft order. It also feels like the deflating nature of this loss erased some of the good feelings after the victory over the Titans. The Indianapolis Colts come to Houston next week to begin December’s portion of the schedule.

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