Other injuries and issues pile up for Texans in dress rehearsal

Disaster in Dallas as Miller is lost for the year

@brgridiron/B/R Gridiron

For thoughts on the other AFC South news of the night check out SportsMap on Andrew Luck's retirement

Starting RB Lamar Miller tears ACL

The first carry of the preseason saw Lamar Miller get drilled and get injured. He was carted off. Miller is done for the season more than likely and potentially is done in a Texans uniform. His contract expires at the end of the year.

Miller was set to be the lead back but perhaps he would have been more effective than ever sharing some of the workload with fellow running back Duke Johnson. Now begins his long road to recovery from a seemingly major injury.

Don't use Duke that way

Duke Johnson can not be used like Lamar Miller has been used the past few seasons. I often liken Miller's usage by the Texans to driving a sports car and taking it off-roading. If the Texans use Duke Johnson that way they aren't maximizing his skills and are doing their offense a disservice.

Adding someone to the running back room or trusting someone currently on the roster to be the new Lamar Miller will go a long way to making sure Johnson is maximized.

Running backs on the roster

Taiwan Jones is likely making this team primarily for his special teams but he is the lone back on the roster outside of Duke Johnson with any real NFL experience. The problem is, it isn't really running back experience. He's had limited work carrying the ball, primarily contributing on the roster as a special teams player. This player could also be Buddy Howell but I am guessing Jones' experience has him winning out over Howell.

Damarea Crockett and Karan Higdon are still fighting to see who will be the youngster who makes the team. I don't know that there is a huge difference between the two but safe to say whichever one can pass block better will make the team. That was a Lamar Miller specialty and not really something Duke Johnson should be doing.

Off the roster options

Jay Ajayi is the biggest "name" available. He is coming off an injury and it isn't a good sign he hasn't been anywhere near a team yet. I can't imagine he is a true option.

One thing to remember about any of these free agents is there is a clear reason they haven't been in or near NFL teams.

The likely option is a free agent signing of a veteran after the rest of the teams in the NFL make cuts. There is also the possibility of a late round pick sent for one of those players. Below are some names I would think about and why they make sense.

Carlos Hyde - unlikely to make the Chiefs roster

Philadelphia's leftover backs - They have a ton of backs in camp and will likely only keep four. There would be some NFL experience with almost any of their cut players.

Frank Gore - might miss the Bills roster with T.J. Yeldon, LeSean McCoy, and rookie Devin Singletary in Buffalo.

Davenport's start baffles

Bill O'Brien proclaimed Roderick Johnson needed to repeat his impressive performance from the Lions game. Then, Julién Davenport started at left tackle against the Cowboys. He didn't look as solid as Johnson had at the spot. He's behind Johnson and Kalil at left tackle now.

I am making an assumption here but with Davenport getting a shot at the starting spot with Kalil out, for whatever reason injury or not, it feels like Johnson is closer to Davenport than Kalil. Meaning, to me, O'Brien is telling the truth about Kalil being the left tackle.

Nick Martin's game return underwhelms

Nick Martin has regularly been a below average center in the NFL. He was the 17th graded center according to Pro Football Focus. He was the 24th graded center in run blocking. On the play where Lamar Miller was hurt he was blown off the ball by the Cowboys defender.

Martin is a veteran now and with the potential for two rookies starting next to him he needs to be average or better this season. I am willing to excuse some of the hiccups tonight as rust after practicing only a bit this preseason.

Fulton and Kelemete should be fine

Bill O'Brien said after the game Zach Fulton and Senio Kelemete should be fine after both hobbled off the field. Fulton is an important player to this line as he his one of the only guards who has experience and has played well this preseason. He is also the team's backup center with Greg Mancz hurt. I am also not so sure he isn't better than Nick Martin.

Kelemete is on the bubble for this team but other injuries along the line and his versatility could save his spot for now. He has shown little this preseason compared to Fulton, Tytus Howard and Max Scharping. Though Saturday Scharping had a long day.

"The ball's in his court"

Former NFL general manager Michael Lombardi expects the Texans to move Jadeveon Clowney though in a baffling prediction he thinks the Texans might be targeting a wide receiver. If the Texans trade Clowney for a wide receiver that would be one of the most baffling trades in recent sports history.

Clowney, of course, has to sign his franchise tag to be traded. So until he does that the Texans really can't do anything. They can bring the idea of the next team to Clowney, but he will have to like it. Also, the team trading for Clowney can't sign him to a long-term contract either. Moving Clowney at this point is getting a return of quarters on the dollar. Not quite pennies, but not his true value either.

"Again, until he decides to come in and sign the tender, really the ball's in his court relative to playing for the Texans and all those things, just like it's been since the beginning of training camp. He's a franchise player and so until he comes and signs the tender, really there's nothing really else to talk about."

O'Brien was asked about Clowney's timeline and indicated he had no idea when Clowney would arrive.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Altuve's homer starting the scoring for Houston on Friday night. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
After a solid showing to take the three of the four-game series in Arlington against the Rangers to start the week, the Astros returned home for three against the Diamondbacks in a weekend series. They would have a slow start to the opener but would ultimately come away victorious.

Final Score (10 innings): Astros 4, Diamondbacks 3

Astros' Record: 87-60, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek (3-4)

Losing Pitcher: Tyler Clippard (1-1)

Bielak makes the impromptu start

With Luis Garcia having to move his start ahead by a day on Thursday instead of Friday with Framber Valdez's finger cut, Brandon Bielak made a start for Houston in the opener against Arizona. He didn't go as deep as he probably would have wanted and certainly ventured out of his comfort zone with traffic on the bases.

He loaded the bases in the top of the first, allowing a single and two walks, but was able to strand all three to keep it a scoreless game. He rebounded with a 1-2-3 second, but he dealt with a threat again in the third as back-to-back singles pressured him to start the inning. He would get back-to-back strikeouts, but that's as far as he would go as Houston moved on to Blake Taylor. Taylor got the final out of the third on one pitch, then erased a two-out double in the top of the fourth.

Altuve breaks up the no-no with a go-ahead homer

Brooks Raley took over in the top of the fifth, but in his three batters, he faced allowed a single while getting two outs before Cristian Javier took over to end the frame. Javier allowed the first run of the game in the top of the sixth, a leadoff solo homer to Kole Calhoun to put the Diamondbacks in front 1-0 before he finished the inning.

Madison Bumgarner didn't allow a single hit to the Astros through the first five and two-thirds innings. He allowed a one-out walk in the bottom of the sixth, which proved costly as Jose Altuve would get the first knock of the game for Houston, a two-run go-ahead homer. Phil Maton was the next reliever for the Astros in the top of the seventh, maintaining the new one-run lead by erasing a leadoff single.

Astros get the win in extras

The Diamondbacks tied it up in the top of the eighth against Kendall Graveman, getting a leadoff single followed by a walk, then later an RBI single to knot things up 2-2. Houston stranded a runner in the bottom of the eighth, then brought in Ryan Pressly, who tossed a 1-2-3 top of the ninth to keep the game tied.

Despite getting the winning run in scoring position with a leadoff ground-rule double by Jason Castro to start the bottom of the ninth, they would strand it as the game went to extras. Arizona scored their free runner in the top of the tenth, getting a sac fly to move it to third then going in front on an RBI single.

The Astros matched that and more in the bottom of the inning, moving their runner to third on a lineout to start the frame, followed by an intentional walk to Yordan Alvarez. Jake Meyers tied the game with an RBI single, then after another walk to load the bases, Chas McCormick was hit by a pitch to bring in the winning run, moving the Astros closer to clinching their playoff berth.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will have a start time of 6:10 PM Central on Saturday. Tyler Gilbert (2-2, 3.15 ERA) is expected to make a start for Arizona, while Lance McCullers Jr. (12-4, 3.12 ERA) will be on the mound for Houston.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome