TEXANS CAMP REPORT

Cody Stoots: 11 observations from Texans training camp for Mon., Aug. 20

Jadeveon Clowney returned to practice on Monday. Houston Texans/Facebook

1. Jadeveon Clowney made his return to a full practice for the Texans as they practiced in the bubble today and not outside. He had been working back after a knee had kept him from being a full participant. Bill O'Brien mentioned he had been working and ramping up to this point and thought he looked good. Clowney said he is 100 percent and hopes he gets to play in the preseason.

2. Clowney is a monster out there. His speed is just amazing for a man of his size and the Texans tackles didn't have a chance against him today. There was one play where he almost caught Deshaun Watson's pass in the backfield. Let me say that again, Clowney was behind the line of scrimmage and maybe could have made a play on a Watson pass before it left the quarterbacks hand. 

3. Martinas Rankin is off the physically unable to perform list and practicing for the Texans. The second third-round selection looked good in his camp debut and is headed towards factoring into the tackle situation. With him getting the late start, Rankin may not be able to crack the starting lineup. He just doesn't have the experience regardless of his success to supplant Seantrell Henderson at right tackle or Julién Davenport at left tackle. Rankin absolutely can end up as the swing tackle for the team though, and will be competing with Kendall Lamm for the swing tackle spot. 

4. Kevin Johnson did not practice today as he is still dealing with his concussion from Saturday's game. Bill O'Brien mentioned he watched a lot of the practice though. When asked if the team is exploring options O'Brien said that is something they look at for the team. The free agent pool isn't exactly deep at this point, and veterans looking for one last run will know Johnson isn't going to be out too long. A recognizable name could be tough to lure for the Texans.  

5. Sammie Coates also missed practice due to his concussion from Saturday's win over the 49ers. Coates was well on his way to making the roster, and depending on how long he is out, it could affect what his status with the team is when the 53-man roster gets set. If Coates gets healthy and they handle him with kid gloves, it could mean he is safe for the final roster. Chris Thompson and rookie Keke Coutee also remain out. 

6. Healthy players are available to play on Saturday against the Rams in Los Angeles according to Bill O'Brien. Though he was non-committal, that does include the possibility J.J. Watt and Clowney play against the Rams. O'Brien again referenced the number of reps from last week against the 49ers in joint practices when assessing Watt's camp so far, and he mentioned Watt was in for a lot of those reps. It seems unlikely, even with Watt saying he'd like to get some preseason game reps, the Texans would risk injury in a game with opening week drawing closer. 

7. Vyncint Smith carried over some momentum from his game-winning catch on Saturday snagging some great passes on Monday. Smith caught a laser in a bunch of traffic and withstood contact to hold onto the ball. He also displayed some toe-tapping technique in the end zone. He has an opportunity with Coates down to take advantage of some extra reps in practice. 

8. DeAndre Hopkins is ready for the regular season and has been ready for a while now. Despite being one of the best in the game there are still little tweaks has made to his game and he doesn't loaf or take reps off. He caught a sideline dart from Watson after a quick move beat the defender. He had a fun rep against Aaron Colvin where only Hopkins and maybe three other pass catchers could've made a play. Hopkins also caught a ball behind his back where he tracked where the ball was headed, and then turned away and caught the ball behind him. 

9. Justin Reid will need to get used to taking on tight ends. He struggled a little early last week against the 49ers but then won some reps in the second practice and game against the San Francisco pass catcher. Today he earned a matchup with Ryan Griffin and though he got the "win" in the rep defending Griffin. It was a questionable play that might have drawn a flag in today's NFL. Griffin didn't protest too much, but there were of course jeers from the offense and cheers from the defense at the end of the rep. No laundry on the field, no penalty. Rams tight end Gerald Everett and Reid is a matchup I hope we all get to watch Saturday. 

10. Tyrann Mathieu continues to impress. He ended up matched up on DeAndre Hopkins and despite the play going for a good amount of time, Mathieu earned a rare pass breakup on Hopkins. Later he matched up with rookie Jordan Akins and showed off his impressive hops challenging Akins for a high pass.  Mathieu is as athletic as you would hope him to be, and his anticipation and quick diagnosis are lethal to offenses. Jadveon Clowney pepped up and got more excited behind the microphone when he talked about how the secondary looked. 

11. Back to Jadveon Clowney as he returned to the field his status off the field lingers with the Texans. Clowney is in the option year of his rookie contract and scheduled to make $12.3 million this season and will be an unrestricted free agent. Fellow 2014 draft class members Jake Matthews, Mike Evans, Taylor Lewan, and Zach Martin all have big money extensions done with their team. Clowney said he doesn't pay attention to his contract, and said it is all about winning football games and winning the Super Bowl. When asked if he wanted to stay in Houston Clowney simply responded "Yeah, I do. I like Houston."

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Willson Contreras will not be replacing catcher Martin Maldonado. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

According to multiple reports, free agent catcher Willson Contreras is signing a 5-year, $87.5 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Contreras was the Astros top target in free agency and will have to pursue other possibilities with Contreras heading to St. Louis.

The Astros reportedly have interest in bringing Christian Vazquez back in what could be a timeshare with Martin Maldonado. Houston could be in the market to trade for A's catcher Sean Murphy, according to reports. Murphy is under team control until 2025, so he won't come cheap if the A's are willing to trade him in the division.

Houston could also look to the farm system for help. Former 1st round pick Korey Lee or Yainer Díaz could both be options this season as the team transitions away from Maldonado, who is in the final year of his contract.

Another Astro moves on

The Oakland A's reportedly signed former Astros DH and utility man Aledmys Diaz to a 2-year, $14 million contract on Wednesday.

Diaz hit .255/.313/.424 with 32 home runs in his four years with the club. Diaz had some big moments with the team, but dealt with his fair share of injuries. It seemed like Diaz's time with the team was coming to an end when he went 1-23 in the 2022 postseason.

Looking ahead

The Astros are rumored to have interest in several free agent outfielders. Andrew Benintendi, Brandon Nimmo, and Michael Conforto have all been mentioned as players on the club's radar.

Michael Brantley could also be an option to bring back, but the team won't have confirmation on the health of his shoulder for quite some time.



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