Houston Texans GM dishes on 5 exciting takeaways from minicamp, offseason

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Texans Nick Caserio, CJ Stroud
Nick Caserio reveals his impressions from minicamp. Composite Getty Image.

Now that Houston Texans minicamps are in the rearview, we play the waiting game until training camp begins. In the meantime, we have some nuggets to chew on, as Texans GM Nick Caserio discussed some of his takeaways from minicamp and the offseason in general on the team's flagship station.

1. This could be the year Texans guard Kenyon Green lives up to being drafted in the first round. According to Caserio, Green is healthy, has a great attitude, “and has put himself in a good position to compete for a spot.” It would be a huge boost to the offensive line if Green can develop into a quality player. They could really use his help in the running game, an area the team struggled with last season. Of course pass protection will be critical as well, he must protect the franchise (Stroud) at all costs. Reports from camp have commented on his high level of fitness heading into this season. Let's hope it translates.

2. Nico Collins is now a very wealthy man, can he live up to his new contract? Caserio praised Collins' route running ability, ball tracking, and hands. But he said Nico's physicality after the catch is what really elevated his game last season. At 6'4, 215 pounds, Collins should continue to rack up yards after the catch against smaller defenders.

3. Linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair is already showing his leadership abilities. Caserio revisited the story of Al-Shaair telling Texans Defensive Rookie of the Year Will Anderson to move on to the next play after jumping offsides at practice. If Anderson is already responding to Al-Shaair's leadership, that tells us everything we need to know. “You can't say enough good things about Azeez,” said Caserio.

4. Kamari Lassister might be the answer at corner opposite Derek Stingley Jr. Lassiter received positive reviews at camp from head coach DeMeco Ryans. And ESPN's Texans reporter DJ Bien-Aime was also impressed with the rookie. Caserio confirmed some of those assertions saying, “Kamari is about what we thought we were going to get.” It appears he's living up to the team's expectations when they drafted him. He's also shown the ability to lineup at nickel and outside. So his position flexibility could be key as the season progresses.

5. The Texans' interest in tight end Cade Stover goes back a couple of years. Caserio was intrigued by Stover when he was scouting CJ Stroud before the 2023 NFL Draft. Before this year's draft, Nick heard some positive things about the Ohio State TE from Stroud and Texans linebacker coach Billy Davis, that confirmed some of his thoughts. Caserio said Stover was among a handful of players that the team targeted on Day 3 of the draft. Nick also acknowledged, with Stover being new to the tight end position, he has some work to do when it comes to run blocking. But they're clearly very high on the player.

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We're thinking they're back! Composite Getty Image.

Coming off an impressive three-game sweep of the Orioles, the Astros finally look like they've turned a corner as they are only two games under .500 with the lowly Rockies coming to town for a two game set this week.

Houston's offense appears to be firing on all cylinders, and the insertion of Mauricio Dubon and Joey Loperfido in the everyday lineup seems to be paying huge dividends

Dubon has now started in fourteen straight games, and Loperfido has been in the lineup in every game since rejoining the team. Manager Joe Espada has done a nice job of riding the hot hand, and knowing when to give players a day off. Both Dubon and Lopefido should be penciled in the lineup regularly, at least until Kyle Tucker returns from injury.

Jeremy Pena is a perfect example of Espada seeing a player struggling and giving him a day off to help get him back on track. The results speak for themselves, as Pena was crushing baseballs over the weekend instead of swinging at sliders in the dirt.

And let's not forget to credit the pitching. Hunter Brown looks like a dominate top of the rotation starter, Ronel Blanco should be an All-Star, and Framber Valdez may have had his best performance of the season on Sunday.

It will be interesting to see how they navigate the starting rotation with only four healthy starters currently on the team. Justin Verlander reportedly still hasn't resumed baseball activities.

Shawn Dubin could also be an option should they need him to make a start. Hopefully, Luis Garcia will be ready to go in late July because the Astros have several pitchers that will be asked to throw more innings than ever before.

Addition by subtraction

It's hard not to notice how well the team has played with Jose Abreu out of the picture. The club is 7-2 since they parted ways with Abreu, and the squad has a much younger and more athletic feel with Loperfido and Dubon consistently playing.

While we certainly can't blame all the team's struggles on Abreu, they appear to be playing with a different energy now. Look no further than Loperfido's amazing catch in the first inning of the opener against Baltimore. That play ended up setting the tone for the entire series.

What should we expect from the red-hot 'Stros moving forward? Be sure to watch the video above to hear the full conversation!

Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and Charlie Pallilo discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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