TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW

Cody Stoots: The best and worst position groups for the Texans

Will Fuller needs to by dynamic for the Texans. Photo by Edward Clarke

The Texans head to West Virginia this week to start their away portion of training camp. As training camp starts the Texans have a few position groups they can rely on and a couple of position groups they are going to need to get a lot better in the coming weeks. 

Best offensive position group: Wide receivers

The Texans boast one of the best pass catchers in football in DeAndre Hopkins but outside of him, the team has a lot of maybe mixed with some hope. Maybe Will Fuller will stay healthy and be the dynamic gamebreaker the team has to have to succeed. He was amazing with Deshaun Watson at quarterback finding the end zone frequently. He has to show up more consistently but the talent is there. Bruce Ellington got to the team in the middle of camp but still turned in his most impressive year as a pro. It wasn't spectacular; he totaled just 330 yards in 11 games, but with the team committing to him in the offseason and some stability on offense Ellington maybe can be a veteran piece for the offense.

The hope comes in the form of Keke Coutee and Braxton Miller. Coutee is a rookie but his skills are the first true slot presence the team has had in Bill O'Brien's tenure. Miller has been a project for a while. The current front office didn't invest in him but if there is anything there this would be the time to show it. He has psychical gifts but there is no more learning curve for his position change. This is his fourth year playing wideout and training camp is now or never. 

Worst offensive position group: Running backs and offensive lineman

The Texans may have one of the worst running back groups in football. Let me first explain why the offensive line isn't here solo. There is at least some investment in some players who have had a semblance of success in the opportunities they had. Plenty of Saints fans and media lamented the potential loss created by the Texans signing Senio Kelemete and his versatility is an asset as a potential backup and maybe starter should someone falter. Zach Fulton will hopefully not be Jeff Allen 2.0 as he came over from the Chiefs on a similar deal after having a similar amount of success. Greg Mancz and Nick Martin provide playing experience and depth at center. The tackle situation is a disaster with Seantrell Henderson who hasn't played much in the NFL between injuries and suspensions and Julién Davenport has played very little. 

The running backs to me is a bigger disaster than the offensive line. Yes, they produced some results last year that had them as a middle of the road team but how much did Deshaun Watson and his mobility help? If he isn't used as a runner as much can the middle of the road results be produced again? I don't believe so. This concern all goes away if D'Onta Foreman is inexplicably ready to play right away after his season-ending injury last year. Without him though the running back room is one of the more unimpressive in football. Lamar Miller just came off one of his worst seasons as a pro. Alfred Blue was unimpressive last season. Tyler Ervin isn't really a running back. The rest of the young players have a very limited track record. Without Foreman, this is the worst position group on the team. 

Best defensive position group: Linebacker

It might be cheating to put all the linebackers together AND include Jadeveon Clowney, but, this is the strength of the defense. There is proven success and potential at every linebacker spot. Clowney and Whitney Mercilus provide plenty of pass rush while Benadrick McKinney and his new contract patrol the middle. Zach Cunningham and Dylan Cole provide solid talent with McKinney inside. The spot opposite Clowney is the "weak" portion but there are some interesting candidates to start opposite him. Brennan Scarlett has been with the team for a few years while rookie Duke Ejiofor could push for time. There are very few questions at this position.

Worst defensive position group: Cornerback

This was a position of concern before Kareem Jackson and Treston Decoud moved to safety. Johnathan Joseph is back again but coming off a rough year for him. He had zero interceptions outside of the Cleveland game and finished the year with just nine passes defended. Kevin Johnson has failed to stay healthy and took a step back last year. Aaron Colvin is new to the team and it seems could start the year without a defined position. He could end up being the best cornerback in this group. Johnson Bademosi is the special teams ace. The rest of the candidates for the last one or two spots are Dee Virgin who had a little success in the preseason last year and a couple of rookies from San Jose State in Jermaine Kelly and Andre Chachere. If Joseph doesn't have one last veteran resurgance and Kevin Johnson doesn't bounce back this group will have a tough time. 

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Many of the games have been hard to watch. Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

They say that breaking up is hard to do, then comes the rebuilding, and that's where the real pain happens. Last week, the 4-9 Rockets lost a tough game, 103-91, to the very average San Antonio Spurs at Toyota Center. That night, Ben McLemore scored 21 points, while P.J. Tucker contributed four points.

Every other point for the Rockets was scored by a player who wasn't on the team last year. That's no way to build a fan base of young people, or older people, or anybody. Because of COVID restrictions, the Rockets can sell only 3,000 tickets to games, and they're still having to offer special deals like four tickets and four drinks (soda, water, wine or beer) for $79.

The night the Rockets fell to the Spurs, DeMarcus Cousins was out with an ankle injury (surprise), John Wall was out with a sore knee (shock), and Eric Gordon sat with a lower leg injury (stunning). They were not sidelined by COVID protocol, it was age creakiness. All three are on the other side of 30. All have a history of missing games because of injuries. Danuel House also missed the game because of a bad back and COVID protocol.

The Rockets took to the floor with able-bodied Mason Jones, David Nwaba, Rodions Kurucs, Kenyon Martin Jr., Jae'Sean Tate and Christian Wood. They're nice players, for sure, they're on an NBA roster. But the NBA is a megastar-driven operation. How many of them would you recognize if they were standing behind you at Costco? The way the Rockets sign, trade and cut players, many or most of the current roster won't be around next year. Becoming a fan of a current Rocket is like falling in love with the Rug Doctor you rented for the weekend at a supermarket. It's going back Monday.

Last year, the head coach was Mike D'Antoni, the general manager was Daryl Morey. Both are established and respected figures in the league. Would you recognize the Rockets new coach Stephen Silas? Can you even name the Rockets new general manager?

And that's how you sink to 14th place in the Western Conference standings, inevitably a lottery team, the end to the Rockets' eight-year run of making the playoffs … the longest current streak in the NBA. The 2021 Rockets aren't just a lousy product, it's worse, they're a boring team. Gordon and Tucker, maybe the two most popular Rockets veterans, are rumored to be traded soon. Fans will have abandonment issues.

Maybe the Rockets should offer something stiffer than beer on "Guys Night Out" next Thursday when the Portland Trail Blazers visit Toyota Center. Good seats available.

That's not what you want to see

Did you see where the New York Mets fired their general manager Jared Porter because he sent explicit, uninvited, unanswered text messages to a female reporter?. Porter absolutely deserved to lose his job. What he did was awful and cruel. More than just losing his job, he should be committed to a home for the terminally stupid. Who does something that moronic? So unconscionable and abusive, on top of being job-killing.

But not all junk shots are meant to be hurtful – here's one that's actually funny, and totally inadvertent and innocent. Several years ago, a local sportscaster not only took a photo of his naked, anatomically correct body, he posted it on Facebook for all of his friends, indeed the world, to see. I won't name the local sportscaster because he was the victim of his own innocent lack of focus. It could have happened to anybody. Not me, thankfully, but anybody else.

Here's how it happened. The sportscaster was taking a shower, and when he emerged, he noticed his kitten curled up in the bathroom sink. Aw, isn't that cute? The sportscaster grabbed his phone and took a photo.

And posted it on Facebook. He didn't notice that, in the background of the photo, in the mirror, was his naked body. You can't say he was butt naked because it was full frontal nudity. You can't say it was a wardrobe malfunction because there was no wardrobe involved. Fortunately his wife noticed the mishap and told the sportscaster to delete the photo.

Here's the real problem, and his solid alibi. Whoever thought it was a good idea to put huge, wide mirrors in the bathroom, especially opposite the bath tub? There's a good look, you're naked, dripping wet, with patches of soap you missed rinsing off. This should be a fleeting disturbing image, not one to be preserved on film or online. Solution: don't bring your phone, or any photographic equipment, into the bathroom. We've all taken accidental photos. Nobody needs to see a photo of your disgusting body. You are not Michelangelo's statue of David. I don't let my dog watch me take a shower or any other business conducted in the bathroom. There is a reason that bathroom doors have locks. Use them.

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