An exciting week as both Raw and Smackdown gear up for Fastlane

An exciting week as both Raw and Smackdown gear up for Fastlane

Born with a comic book in one hand and a remote control in the other, Cory DLG is the talent of Conroe's very own Nerd Thug Radio, Sports and Wrestling. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio shows www.facebook.com/nerdthugradio!

In recent history WWE has struggled to be entertaining from week to week, but in the build up to Fastlane, WWE is hitting an interesting stride.

With Raw starting off with the big announcement of the return of Roman Reigns, the tone was set early. Showcasing Ricochet and Alister Black in another tag match against the Revival brings to question exactly what the future plans are for these two. The first tag match featuring the new female tag team match was exciting and the Ronda, Charlotte, Becky Lynch story took an interesting turn with Ronda making a bold power play to get Becky Lynch back in the match. Perhaps the most exciting event of the night came during the Dean Ambrose/Drew Mcintyre no DQ match when the Shield reuniting was strongly hinted at. Raw even managed to end on a strong note when Bautista ambushed Ric Flair during his birthday celebration. Bringing to mind the rumors that circulated during Bautista's run a few years ago where his planned storyline was to end with a match against Triple H in Wrestlemania, is that the case now? Well there's no Guardians of the Galaxy movie to promote this summer, so Bautista won't be busy, or will he?

The shocks continued as Smackdown kicked off with a huge shock as fan favorite Kofi Kingston lost his spot in the Fastlane title match against Daniel Bryan to the newly returned Kevin Owens. Vince McMahon in recent weeks has positioned himself as the "evil authority" making big decisions that are "best for business" which harkens back to the older, perhaps higher rated days of a few years ago. Surprises continued as Matt Hardy made a return in an abbreviated match against The Bar, but it lacked a certain style because honestly, Matt is painful to watch at this point. The showcase continued for Ricochet and Alister Black, maybe this is the way forward for NXT call ups in an effort to try and keep the NXT guys from falling to the wayside, this time against Rusev and Shinske Nakamora. Perhaps the big misstep this week was ending on the predictably flat tag match between Kofi Kingston/Kevin Owens vs Daniel Bryan/Erick Rowan but it was great to see Kevin Owens in action again.

Fastlane and Wrestlemania both had some interesting developments this week and WWE put together two exciting shows, which is something they've struggled with recently. Here's hoping the this is a trend setting week and the positive momentum continues.

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The Texans will have to shuffle the o-line once again. Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images.

“Another one!”- DJ Khaled

That's the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news of Tytus Howard being shut down for the season because of a knee injury. They've had more injuries on the offensive line this season than Nick Cannon has Father's Day cards. Almost every member of the offensive line has spent time on the injury report. Howard went down in the same game in which Juice Scruggs was finally on the active roster. He missed the first 10 games due to a hamstring injury. The irony of next man up has never been so in your face.

The other thing that came to mind was the soap opera As the World Turns.

Howard had just signed an extension this offseason. So did Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. They drafted Juice Scruggs, and signed a few guys too. Those moves, along with other holdovers, were expected to fill out the depth chart. Then a rash of injuries struck. At one point, only one of the original five guys expected to start was playing! In fact, they beat the Steelers 30-6 with that backup offensive line!

One can't have the expectation of backups to perform as good as the starters. They're professionals and are on an NFL roster for a reason. However, the talent gap is evident. One thing coaching, technique, and preparation can't cover is lack of ability or talent. The Texans have done a good job of navigating the injury minefield this season. While the Howard injury will hurt, I have faith in the guys there still.

As of this writing, the Texans are in the eighth spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, Browns, and Colts are all in front of them at the fifth through seventh spots respectfully. They've beaten the Steelers already. They play the Browns on Christmas Eve and their starting quarterback is out for the season. The Colts are relying on the ghost of Gardner Minshew to steer their ship into the last game of the season vs. the Texans with a possible playoff trip on the line. The Broncos and Bills are the two teams immediately behind them. They play the Broncos this weekend. Even though they're on a hot streak, this is the same team that got 70 put on them by the Dolphins. The Bills are the old veteran boxer who still has some skill, but is now a stepping stone for up & comers.

To say this team should still make the playoffs would be an understatement in my opinion. I believe in them and what they have going on more than I believe in the teams I listed above. That includes teams around them in the playoff race that aren't on their schedule. The one thing that scares me a little moving forward is the sustainability of this line. When guys get up in age as athletes, it becomes harder to come back from injuries. The injuries also tend to occur more frequently when it's a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or another body part critical to blocking for C.J. Stroud.

I know they just re-signed three of those guys and drafted one they believe can be a starter, but depth and contingency plans are a way of life in the NFL. We see how important depth was this season. Why not plan ahead? Don't be surprised if the Texans spend valuable draft capital on the offensive line. By valuable, I'm talking about first through third or fourth rounders. Those are prime spots to draft quality offensive lineman. Whether day one starters or quality depth, those are the sweet spots. The only guy on the two deep depth chart for this offensive line that wasn't drafted in one of those rounds was George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie free agent. While I highly doubt they spend any significant free agency dollars on the group, I'm not totally ruling it out.

The bottom line is, this team will be okay on the line for the remainder of this season. The only way that doesn't happen, more injuries. Stroud is clearly the franchise guy. Protecting that investment is a top priority. I don't care about a number one receiver, or a stud stable or singular running back if the quarterback won't have time to get them the ball. If the pilot can't fly the plane, you know what happens. So making sure he's happy, healthy, and has a great crew is of the utmost importance.

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