STRONG TAKE

Deshaun Watson's mentor on the Texans being better without Hopkins

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans begin training camp with a franchise quarterback in Deshaun Watson firmly in place but without an obvious number one wide receiver for Watson to throw to. The trade of All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins was one of the most controversial trades in recent NFL history and how Houston will attempt to make up for the loss of Hopkins' production could define the Texans 2020 season.

Even without Hopkins, with Watson entering his 4th season under center for the Texans expectations should still remain high according to Watson's mentor and former NFL quarterback Jordan Palmer. Palmer, 35, who is the personal coach of the Jets' Sam Darnold, the Bills' QB Josh Allen, and now the Bengals' Joe Burrow, privately trained Watson leading up to the 2017 draft and has seen the signal-caller take massive steps forward during his first three seasons in the league.

"Deshaun has really grown into himself," Palmer said on The Jake Asman Show on SportsMap Radio. "It's not just that he is smart, he also has the study habits to go with it. Deshaun's a kid that was on honor roll starting in third grade every single year until he graduated on the dean's list at Clemson in three years. So that foundation has allowed him to go further faster in that offense."

Last season in 15 games with the Texans, DeAndre Hopkins, accounted for over 100 catches, 1,100 yards, and 7 touchdowns. How will Watson adjust to not having Hopkins in the offense anymore? Not many have come out on the record and said they support the off-season that Bill O'Brien has had. However, Palmer actually believes that with Hopkins taking up a large portion of Houston's salary cap the Texans actually made a smart move dealing him to Arizona.

"I think there are going to be areas of the game that makes things more difficult," Palmer said. "At the same time, they added Brandin Cooks and David Johnson. Now neither of those guys are DeAndre Hopkins but you have to make up for productivity, not just a person... David Johnson played with my brother (Carson) in Arizona and I know how dynamic of a runner and pass catcher he is."

With Brandin Cooks, he's really similar to a lot of the body types of receivers that Deshaun played with in college. Brandon is such a consummate pro and veteran and look at who Cooks has played with? He's played with Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Jared Goff. So Brandon is a guy who is also bringing a wealth a knowledge and contributes more than just statistically… I think the addition of those two players if they stay healthy, the productively will be offset and I think this could potentially be an upgrade particularly with what DeAndre was going to chew up in cap space for them, so I actually think big picture this is the right move."

You can listen to The Jake Asman Show weekdays from 8 AM -10 AM Central on SportsMap Radio.

You can listen to the full interview with Jordan Palmer below:


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Houston now focused on postseason

Altuve and Correa homer, Astros drop final regular-season game

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With no playoff impact at stake if the Astros won or lost the game, Houston took Sunday's final regular-season game as a chance to get their lineup a few more at-bats before shifting focus to Tuesday's first game of the post-season. Here is a quick recap of the game against the Rangers:

Final Score: Rangers 8, Astros 4.

Record: 29-31, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Wes Benjamin (2-1, 4.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Chase De Jong (0-1, 14.73 ERA).

Houston's main bats get a final tune-up

Knowing they'd only have a couple of at-bats to work with, some of Houston's big bats took advantage, starting with Jose Altuve. He crushed a pitch in the top of the first, a solo homer to put the Astros in front 1-0. After the Rangers tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second, Altuve started the third with a walk before moving to third base on a Michael Brantley single, which improved Brantley's season average to .300.

Aledmys Diaz would pick up the RBI on a groundout to score Altuve, putting Houston back in front 2-1. In Correa's last at-bat in the top of the fourth, he extended the lead to 3-1 with a solo home run of his own.

Rangers hand Astros a loss to end the regular season

After getting the early run against Chase De Jong, the Rangers would put together a big inning against him in the fourth. After two one-out singles, Rougned Odor would give Texas their first lead of the day on a three-run homer to make it 4-3.

De Jong would continue to struggle in the inning, getting just one more out while loading the bases, prompting a move to the bullpen to bring in Nivaldo Rodriguez to try and eat up more innings. The Rangers greeted him with a two-RBI single to extend their lead to 6-3 before ending the fourth. Odor would hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, a solo shot to make it a four-run lead at 7-3.

Rodriguez allowed another run in the bottom of the seventh, making it 8-3. Diaz, who drove in a run earlier, would account for another RBI in the top of the eighth, getting Houston's third solo homer of the day. That would make it an 8-4 game, which would go final as the Rangers would win the regular season's last game.

Up Next: Houston's first game of the playoffs will be on Tuesday, with the start time and opponent TBD while the rest of today's games wrap up, and the schedule is announced. Regardless, the Astros are expected to begin that best-of-three series with Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

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