Other injuries and issues pile up for Texans in dress rehearsal

Disaster in Dallas as Miller is lost for the year

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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.

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After dropping the middle game to the Rangers to split the first two games, the Astros looked for an improved offensive showing in the finale on Thursday night to take the series. Here is a rundown of the rubber game:

Final Score: Astros 2, Rangers 1.

Record: 25-25, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Framber Valdez (4-3, 3.82 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jordan Lyles (1-5, 7.07 ERA).

Valdez another Houston pitcher to thrive against Rangers

Much like Jose Urquidy on Tuesday and Lance McCullers JR. on Wednesday, Framber Valdez put up an excellent pitching line on Thursday against the Rangers. After allowing two singles in the first and a single in the second, he would settle in and hold the Rangers to just one baserunner, which came via a walk through six frames.

He would try to get through the seventh, but after a long at-bat and one-out double, Dusty Baker would stop his night and go to the bullpen. Unfortunately, that double would end up scoring as Josh James would allow an RBI-single, charged to Valdez, before finishing the inning. Along the way, Valdez was able to ring up eleven Rangers. His final line: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 0 HR, 100 P.

Kyle Tucker gets the big hit of the night

Luckily, Houston was still in the lead after the Rangers' run, thanks to a big hit by Kyle Tucker back in the second inning. After Alex Bregman reached base on a walk to become the first runner for the Astros, Kyle Tucker would break out of his recent slump with a two-run home run, putting Houston ahead 2-0 at the time.

Jordan Lyles was otherwise handling the Astros just like Kyle Gibson the night prior, who threw a complete-game shutout. Other than the Tucker homer, Lyles allowed another hit in the second and one in the third before retiring the next 12 Astros in order before an error in the seventh broke that streak, giving Houston their first baserunner since two outs in the third.

Houston takes the series and moves back up to .500

Josh James returned to the mound to start the eighth, and he would get a 1-2-3 inning against the top of Texas' lineup, including back-to-back strikeouts to end it. After another scoreless inning by Houston at the plate, that would set up a save opportunity in the top of the ninth. The opportunity would go to Brooks Raley, and he would notch the save with a scoreless inning, giving Houston the series and moving them back up to .500 at 25-25.

Up Next: The Astros' final three regular-season games played at Minute Maid Park in 2020 are this weekend in a series against the Diamondbacks. In Friday's 7:10 PM opener, Zack Greinke (3-2, 3.77 ERA) will be on the mound for Houston while Zac Gallen (1-2, 3.15 ERA) will be the starter for Arizona.

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