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Fred Faour: A look at free agency so far and what still needs to be done for the Texans

Fred Faour: A look at free agency so far and what still needs to be done for the Texans
Bill O'Brien and Deshaun Watson should have a lot more help on the offensive line this season, but Watson still needs a backup at QB. Getty Images

Until Friday night, the Texans had been relatively quiet in free agency, making solid, under the radar signings to bolster a squad that had a lot of holes. Then they made the big splash, signing safety Tyrann Mathieu.

While this is the kind of high-profile, big-name move that gets fans excited, the team has quietly plugged some major holes in addition to adding the playmaking safety. Entering free agency, the Texans had two major needs: Offensive line help and secondary. They filled most of those, but there is still work to be done. A look at what they have done at each position group so far and what still needs to be done:

Offensive line

Additions: Senio Kelemete, G; Seantrel Henderson, T; Zach Fulton, G. The Texans essentially added three new starters to their line, which needed four. Henderson should compete for the starting right tackle position. Fulton and Kelemete should join Nick Martin or Greg Mancz on the interior of the line. Veteran Jeff Allen, a free-agent failure, is still on the roster for now, but he might not survive. The same goes for Derek Newton, who has not played in two years. Neither should be counted on for depth, but Kyle Fuller and Chris Slade showed some promise in late-season appearances and a draft pick should be added as well. The gaping hole remains at left tackle, where the Texans -- who struck out on Nate Solder -- have no one. It will be hard to get a starter in the draft without a first or second round pick, so the Texans made need to go the trade route or hope for a veteran cut after the draft.

They have improved the line significantly this offseason, which was a major goal. Kelemete and Fulton are serious upgrades over Allen and Xavier S’ua-Filo. If they can find a left tackle between now and the start of the season, this could be the most improved unit on the team.

Tight end

Additions: None. C.J. Fiedorowicz retired due to multiple concussions, leaving the Texans with just Ryan Griffin and Stephen Anderson at the position. Neither is a longterm answer, but then this has not been a position of strength in a while. The Texans will need to draft or sign another TE to give Deshaun Watson another weapon.

Wide receiver

Additions: Sammie Coates. The team also brought back Bruce Ellington, so there is some OK depth here. DeAndre Hopkins is a clear No. 1, but it is time for Will Fuller or Braxton Miller to emerge. Coates still has some upside and Ellington was solid for the Texans last year. Another draft pick would not hurt, but not an area of need.

Running backs

Additions: None. With D’Onta Foreman a question mark after blowing his Achilles and Alfred Blue a free agent, the Texans need help behind Lamar Miller. Tyler Ervin has yet to develop and is also coming off an injury. Expect the Texans to invest at least one draft pick at this position.


Additions: None. Deshaun Watson is the man now, but we saw what the Texans were without him last season. Taylor Heinicke is the only other QB on the roster. The good news is whoever they bring in as a backup will be an upgrade over Tom Savage, but they still need a No. 2 QB, either through free agency or the draft. They might wait until after the draft, when other teams might dump veteran QBs.

Defensive line

Additions: None. The Texans were pretty solid here, but another big nose tackle would not hurt. The Texans should get J.J. Watt back healthy next season and if so will be strong again on the D line.


Additions: None. Another area where the Texans really do not need help. Whitney Mercilus should return healthy, and Zach Cunningham and Bernardrick McKinney are solid if used correctly, which they should be with Romeo Crennel returning as DC. Depth players like Brennan Scarlet and Dylan Cole should contribute as well.


Additions: Tyrann Mathieu, S, Aaron Colvin, CB, Johnson Bademosi, CB. Like the OL, this was the biggest area that needed to be addressed. Mathieu is a legitimate star and a playmaker at three levels and will make a huge impact if healthy. Colvin will be a strong slot cover corner. Bademosi adds depth and is a special teams star. The team also brought back Jonathan Joseph, who has slowed with age but is still solid. They still lack a true No. 1 corner, and must get much better play out of former first-round pick Kevin Johnson, but overall this group should be much improved.

Special teams

This has been a mess for years. They re-signed veteran punter Shane Lechler and special teams contributor Brian Peters. Johnson can play some corner, but his primary value is on special teams coverage. They still need a decent return man and more help in this area.

The bottom line

The Texans improved their two weakest position groups with the offensive line and secondary. They were not going to be able to fix everything at once, but they did about as well as expected. Now they need to find a starting left tackle, a backup QB, another tight end and a running back. The good news is other than the tackle, they can address those needs in the draft, even without a first or second round pick.

It has been a productive free agency period for the Texans, who now are at least close to having a complete roster.


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Astros lose to Braves, 6-2. Composite Getty Image.

Reynaldo López struck out seven over six scoreless innings, Orlando Arcia homered and the Atlanta Braves won their third straight, 6-2 over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

López (2-0) allowed four hits and walked one in his third straight sterling outing to start the season.

“It’s like I’ve always said, for me, the important thing is to focus,” López said through an interpreter. “To have the focus during the outings and then, to be able to locate those pitches.”

He has given up one run in 18 innings for an ERA of 0.50.

“He threw the ball really well against a really good hitting club,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “Another solid one.”

Arcia hit a solo home run to left in the second and a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Luis Guillorme and backup catcher Chadwick Tromp each hit a two-run double in the ninth to put the Braves ahead 6-0.

“Tromp has done a good job ever since we’ve been bringing him in these situations and filling in,” Snitker said. “I’ve got all the confidence in the world in him back there. ... He’s an aggressive hitter. He’s knocked in some big runs for us in the limited time that he’s played.”

Kyle Tucker homered for the Astros leading off the ninth against Aaron Bummer, and Mauricio Dubón had a two-out RBI single to cut the lead to four. After Bummer walked Chas McCormick to put two on, Raisel Iglesias induced a groundout by Victor Caratini to end it and secure his fourth save.

“They pitched well, and our guys are grinding out at-bats,” Houston manager Joe Espada said. “Even in the ninth inning there, we’re grinding, fighting until the end.”

Hunter Brown (0-3) yielded two runs on five hits with three strikeouts and three walks in six innings. Brown allowed nine runs in two-thirds of an inning in his previous start, last Thursday against Kansas City.

Brown said he executed better Tuesday than he had in his previous two starts.

“He mixed all his pitches well,” Espada said. “The breaking ball was effective. He threw some cutters in on the hands to some of those lefties. He mixed his pitches really well. That was a really strong performance.”


Braves: 2B Ozzie Albies was placed on the 10-day injured list with a broken right big toe. IF David Fletcher had his contract selected from Triple-A Gwinnett to take Albies’ place on the roster.

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (right shoulder inflammation) threw a side session Tuesday, but Houston will wait until Wednesday to see how Verlander feels before deciding whether he will make his first start this weekend against the Nationals, Espada said. ... RHP Luis Garcia (right elbow surgery) threw around 20-25 pitches off the bullpen mound, and RHP José Urquidy (right forearm strain) also threw off the mound, Espada said. ... LHP Framber Valdez (left elbow soreness) played catch off flat ground.


Atlanta LHP Max Fried (1-0, 8.74 ERA) starts Wednesday in the series finale opposite RHP J.P. France (0-2, 8.22).

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