TEXANS CAMP REPORT

Cody Stoots: 11 observations from Texans training camp for Thurs., Aug. 23

Keke Coutee turned some heads today. Photo by Edward Clarke

1. Jordan Thomas had a nice day on the field for the Texans. The rookie tight end hauled in two one-handed catches with coverage draped all over him. Later in the practice, he beat Tyrann Mathieu in a one-on-one matchup. Thomas is much further along from a catching perspective than other Texans tight ends have been as rookies. He is a willing blocker too. 

2. Jordan Akins didn't feel like getting left behind today. He had a nice play shaking loose in an individual drill. Think of Akins as last year's Stephen Anderson. Anderson, by the way, is barely noticeable. His time with the team may be short. 

3. Ryan Griffin ended up challenging rookie safety Justin Reid, and he found out the hard way the rookie is improving. Reid came out as the winner in that rep as his progression against tight ends continues. He is winning more of those reps than he is losing these days. 

4. Short of a surprise, the tight end room looks set with Griffin, Thomas, and Akins. Matt Lengel could be a surprise addition to give an emphasis on blocking, but keeping four tight ends cuts another spot elsewhere. 

5. Treston Decoud had a nice couple of plays to stand out today. The switch to safety seems to a better use his physical gifts, though he still has hiccups that allow teachable moments. He is likely to factor into the safety position when the 53-man roster is set. 

6. Speaking of new safeties, Kareem Jackson showed off instincts and speed on a nice breakup down the field. The coverage aspect is the only worry about Kareem at safety as his run stuffing ability is top notch. On this rep, he put the coverage worries to bed. 

7. Dylan Cole ended up on the right end of a tip drill much to the delight of the defense. Cole was a standout last year before his injury and the offseason of seasoning shows. He is sure of himself and his confidence is up. He fits nicely with Benardrick McKinney and Zach Cunningham. 

8. Sammie Coates drew some laughs when he pointed out how open he was at the end of a rep. He was a good 15 yards away from where the ball went and no defenders were close to him. It was just a missed rep, but it showed Coates' ability to lose defenders and stretch the field.  

9. Deshaun Watson dropped jaws on two plays today. He effortlessly put the ball a good distance down the field right where he wanted to on the run. It was the type of play forcing defenders to look at each other and just shrug. He doesn't have to show it in practice, but he can find himself in the unstoppable groove the greats showcase. 

10. Keke Coutee was incredible today. His quickness is stellar, and he displays some good shake on his routes getting himself open. He isn't afraid to lay out for balls as well. He made a "wow" play on a Watson rollout that pumped the offense up. 

11. Drake also owes Coutee an apology. Drake's hit song "In My Feelings" has led to the popularization of the phrase "Keke do you love me?" It has also sparked a social media dance trend. "I'm really tired of the Drake song," the rookie said with a smile. "Everywhere I go it's just 'Keke do you love me?'"

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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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