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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Nick Caserio's history of drafting injury prone players has become a problem. Composite Getty Image.

Nick Caserio was hired to serve as the general manager (GM) of the Texans on January 7, 2021. Some saw it as another nod to the organization's obsession with the Patriots. Others saw it as the team finally getting their guy after pursuing him previously. They were even hit with a tampering charge while trying to talk to him about the job. Since he's been on the job, there have been highs and lows.

Recently, the news about Kenyon Green and Derek Stingley Jr put a stain on his tenure. Green was placed on season-ending injured reserve (IR) and Stingley Jr is expected to be placed on IR, likely missing six to eight weeks, per Aaron Wilson. Both guys were Caserio's 2022 first rounders. Both guys are starting to look like busts and have fans a little more than just upset.

Green's case was curious because he was said to have needed surgery before he tore his labrum during the Saints preseason game. He had knee surgery this past offseason. There were knee injury concerns when he was coming out of A&M. Adding to his injuries, Green has played poorly. To make matters worse, the Chargers drafted fellow guard Zion Johnson two picks later. Johnson played all 17 games last season as a rookie at right guard and has moved to left guard this season. The pick used to draft Green was part of a trade back with the Eagles. They used the 13th overall pick to take Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis, a guy at a position this team could desperately use.

Stingley Jr was a highly touted recruit coming into LSU as a freshman. He played as well as any corner in the country that year. Oh, and they won a national title with arguably one of the best teams in college football history. His net two years in Baton Rouge were marred with injuries. Some believed his junior year was more him holding back to stay healthy for the draft. It worked because he was taken third overall, one spot ahead of Sauce Gardner. Gardner went on to be an All Pro as a rookie. While he's surrounded by more talent on the Jets' defense, people will forever link them because Stingley Jr hasn't lived up to expectations. He missed six games last season and is set to miss at least that many this season. When he has played, he's looked okay. “Okay” isn't what you want from a guy drafted third overall ahead of the other guy who was widely considered better than him.

For the 2021 draft, Caserio was handcuffed. He had no first or second rounders, and made a few trades that lessened his draft pool from eight to five picks. Of the five guys drafted that year, only Nico Collins seems to be a player. The 2022 draft was more productive. Although Green and Stingley Jr were the headliners and haven't played up to the hype, the others are carrying the load. Jalen Pitre and Dameon PIerce alone make that draft class dope. This past draft was seen as the one to save the franchise so to speak. Getting C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr got the team a franchise quarterback and edge rusher with picks two and three overall. The price paid to move back up to three was hefty and puts more scrutiny on Anderson Jr. They appear, so far, to have also found a couple other nice players. Tank Dell being the hidden gem of this class.

While people can't, and shouldn't, base Caserio's performance strictly off of the guys he's drafted, one must call it into question. The '21 draft was a wash. The '22 draft looks suspect, but has some redeeming qualities. The '23 draft will most likely be his saving grace. But should it? Former Texans GM Rick Smith nailed almost every first rounder he drafted. Even he was almost run out of town because folks didn't like what he did. Why should Caserio be any different? So what if he cleaned up the mess by the previous regime! That's what he was hired to do!

“Keep that same energy!” That phrase is used when people try to hold others to different standards. Where's that energy everyone had for Bill O'Brien, Jack Easterby, Rick Smith, Gary Kubiak, David Culley, and Lovie Smith? When others weren't performing well, their heads were called for. I see some people holding Caserio accountable. For the most part, it appears as if he's getting a bit of a pass. I'll be interested to see if this continues should the team has another subpar season. If that pick they traded to the Cardinals is another top 10 pick and the Browns pick the Texans own isn't...if Green can't come back and/or Stingley Jr doesn't show any signs of being a lockdown corner...then what? Let's hope none of this comes to fruition. If it does, we'll have to revisit this conversation.

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