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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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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