MINI-CAMP REPORT

Cody Stoots: 11 observations from Day 1 of Texans minicamp

Cody Stoots: 11 observations from Day 1 of Texans minicamp
Deshaun Watson looked as healthy and effective as he was last season. Getty Images

 

The Texans began minicamp Tuesday in the afternoon. Here are 11 observations from the first of three scheduled practices: 

1. The Texans hosted the Santa Fe High School football team on Tuesday. Coaches and players met the team after practice and took pictures and received autographs. Bill O'Brien announced the team would be donating $100,000 to the Santa Fe Strong Memorial Fund. 

2. Deshaun Watson didn't wear a brace or anything on his knee at the workout. He moved the same way he did last year before his season-ending ACL surgery and did plenty of dynamic drilling having to use his mobility. O'Brien joked after he didn't notice Watson wasn't wearing anything on his knee. 

3. Watson missed almost no throws. Minicamp possesses a pass-heavy setup so there was plenty of work for Watson. Some of the drills saw Waston hold the ball a little long but when he made his decision the passes were among the best Texans fans have seen. He had one miss in a simulated 7-on-7 drive that saw the offense complete a touchdown pass to end a seven play drive. The ability to quickly get the ball out will be key as Watson learns more about defenses and sees new schemes as his second year in the league rolls on. 

4. DeAndre Hopkins is effortless in almost every movement on the football field. He eliminated Kevin Johnson with ease in one practice rep securing a bullet from Watson. Johnson would get some very physical payback later in the practice on Hopkins. 

5. Keke Coutee wears number 16 which is one of the most unique numbers for a pass catcher in recent memory. Also unique to him is his ability to create separation against NFL talent. There were only a handful of drills where he faced press coverage and even then he got into his route. When there wasn't press coverage, he was open. Quarterback Stephen Morris missed Coutee on what would have been a huge play in a team simulation drill. Coutee against new cornerback Aaron Colvin was a joy to watch.

6. Braxton Miller looks more like a wide receiver than ever before. He had an amazing over the shoulder catch from Watson that looked like the two have practiced it for years. He won his share of matchups with corners and safeties in the drills. 

7. Rookie tight ends Jordan Thomas and Jordan Akins each has some nice plays. It became apparent Akins can be a size mismatch against corners and safeties in a lot of situations. Thomas, who spent time as a wide receiver at Mississippi State, is fluid on the field and runs well for his size. Linebackers had issues against him. 

8. Andre Hal is absent from the workouts due to his diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Bill O'Brien noted the team would be with him every step of the way as Hal attempts to beat cancer. His absence opens the door for rookie S Justin Reid to play right away. Reid will be challenged for playing time by Kurtis Drummond, in his fourth year with the team, and former cornerback turned safety Treston Decoud. 

9. O'Brien praised Justin Reid's smarts after practice. Reid said he felt like the transition to the NFL was about the speed of the game primarily but felt like after the few weeks he has been in the NFL he feels more in tune with the duties and responsibilities of his position. In a red zone situation, Reid easily covered Will Fuller for a pass breakup. The safeties had a good day. 

10. Justin Reid has the line of the day when asked about playing against DeAndre Hopkins. "What is it J. Cole says? 'Long live the idols — may they never be your rivals" said Reid. He said it is great to watch players like Hopkins and now get to compete with them. He said a lot of the wide receivers work with him on how they attack defensive backs with certain routes and how he should counter those routes. 

11. Julién Davenport has altered his body quite a bit. He looks a lot closer to what you would expect from a regular offensive lineman. He is listed with the same height and weight as veteran Seantrell Henderson. They both are listed at 6'7" and 320 pounds. Davenport doesn't look far from Henderson or Kendall Laam. He said after the workout he feels like his body is getting to where he wants to be after a full year with the Texans. He mentioned "good weight" is a term he hears a lot and once he adds weight wants to convert it to muscle and drop his body fat percentage. 

Other notes

Rookie tackle Martinas Rankin is out of the workouts with an injury. Fox 26 reported it is a broken foot suffered in rookie minicamp.

Joe Webb worked as a quarterback joining Brandon Weeden and Stephen Morris as the quarterbacks competing for backup reps. 

Benardrick McKinney is likely in the best shape of his career according to O'Brien. McKinney said he is trying to increase his on-field game to better take advantage of the mental side of the game as it has slowed down for him.

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These uniforms have to go. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

Major League Baseball will consider going back to having players wear their team uniforms for the All-Star Game.

Club uniforms were used by the American League from 1933-2019 and by the National League from 1934-2019. When the game resumed in 2021 following the pandemic-related cancellation in 2020, MLB had started a uniform contract with Nike and Fanatics, and All-Stars were outfitted in specially designed league uniforms that drew criticism from traditionalists.

Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

This year's AL uniforms had a sandy base with red sleeves and lettering and the NL had a navy base with light blue sleeves and lettering.

“I’m aware of the sentiment on this issue,” Manfred told the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Tuesday. "I think where my head is on it, it’s something we’re going to have a conversation about coming out of the All-Star Game. We've got a lot of uniform things going on. And, obviously, the conversations have to involve the players first and foremost but Nike, some of our partners. But I am aware of the sentiment, and I do know why people kind of like that tradition."

MLB and Nike were criticized for club uniforms this year and said in May that 2025 club outfits will have larger lettering on the back of jerseys and individual pant customization. Players complained this year that white pants worn by some teams are see-through enough to show tucked-in jersey tops.

Regional sports networks

Manfred said a national steaming package of local television broadcasts is a future possibility.

“I could see a situation where we grow into a 30-club model. It might start on the digital side, where you have 14 or 15 clubs, and, you start with a digital product there as your first alternative,” he said.

“I was in Sun Valley last week and I did the whole speed-dating thing with everybody who’s ever streamed anything. When you talk to people in the streaming business, they’re not really interested in buying the state of Wisconsin and two counties in Michigan," Manfred added. "They want to be able to stream quite frankly, all over the U.S. and Canada but more broadly internationally. So I think those conversations are a product of owners saying, holy cow, the RSN business is really deteriorating. We know the future’s going to be streaming. What we’re hearing from the streamers is they want a more national product, and we need to be responsive to what people want to buy.”

MLB took over production of Arizona and San Diego local television broadcasts last year following the bankruptcy of Diamond Sports’ Bally networks and said MLB will be available as an option for teams looking for new deals. He said Padres game are approaching 40,000 subscribers, which he called a good figure.

“Having said that, from a revenue perspective it is not generating what the RSNs did," Manfred said. "The RSNs were a great business. Lots of people paid for programing they didn’t necessarily want. And it’s hard to replicate that kind of revenue absent that kind of bundling concept.”

Offense

While offense is near half-century lows, it has picked up from early in the season.

“The decline in offense is something that we’re paying a lot of attention to and we’ll continue to monitor to make a decision as to whether we think we need to do something. You do hear a lot of chatter about the dominance of pitching in the game. That’s absolutely true.”

Birmingham

After the success of the June 20 game between San Francisco and St. Louis at Rickwood Field, Manfred said MLB will return to the ballpark in Birmingham, Alabama, but the “exact form” had not been determined.

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