How circumstances may push Texans into unleashing full force of shiny new weapon

Heading into Week 1 the Texans were dealing with an exorbitant amount of injuries, and things didn't get any better after the opening game against the Ravens. Now safety Jalen Pitre looks likely to miss the Colts game, and WR Noah Brown and DT Hassan Ridgeway have been moved to IR, and will be out for at least four weeks.

However, this could be a blessing in disguise for rookie WR Tank Dell. With Brown out of the picture, he should get a boost in targets, and hopefully that will lead to more explosive plays overall. Dell was one of the most talented receivers in the draft, and CJ Stroud could definitely use more playmakers to throw to.

Getting rookies ready to contribute early on can be a challenge, but it's not impossible. Look at how the Ravens deployed Zay Flowers in his NFL debut against the Texans last week.

He had 10 targets and two rush attempts for Baltimore, and was very efficient and effective. Flowers caught 9 of 10 targets for 78 yards, and recorded 9 yards rushing. Dell and Flowers are similar in that both are undersized receivers that can deliver big plays.

Dell was only targeted 4 times and hauled in 3 passes for 34 yards.

It would be nice to see the Texans use Dell on some Jet Sweeps and get him the ball in space more often. Some shots downfield would be great as well, which could loosen up the defense for the running attack.

Speaking of running backs, Dameon Pierce only had 13 total touches on Sunday. The Texans could benefit from keeping him on the field on third down more frequently, and also throwing him passes out of the backfield. He had 2 catches on 3 targets, but just a few more opportunities could make a big difference, especially with a rookie QB.

Journeyman running back Mike Boone should not be limiting Pierce's use on third down.

Don't miss the video above for the full conversation about how the Texans can unleash Tank Dell, and much more!

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The Houston Astros managed to win the AL West once again, and while things got a little nerve wracking toward the end of the season, when it mattered most, the 'Stros took care of business.

It certainly didn't hurt to get a little help from the Mariners, beating the Rangers 1-0 on Sunday, paving the way for the Astros to secure the division. Rangers fans and members of their broadcast team were none too pleased with the Diamondbacks resting some of their starters on Sunday.

But let's be real, with the division on the line, the Rangers couldn't even manage to score a single run on Sunday against Seattle. That's why they're playing in the Wild Card series, not because of how Arizona approached Sunday's game.

So what did we learn during these must-win games over the last week? A lot was made of GM Dana Brown's comments on the team's flagship station. Brown was hoping manager Dusty Baker would put the best offensive lineup on the field. Yainer Diaz did not start a single game of the Diamondbacks series. But Chas McCormick played every game of the Mariners and Diamondbacks series, except for the finale against Seattle, after being hit in the back with a fastball the night before.

Michael Brantley played in two of three against Arizona, so he appears to be an option Dusty will turn to moving forward. And with the Astros only scoring 1 and 2 runs in two of the three wins against the D-Backs, the Astros need every bit of offense they can get.

Plus, we discuss how getting extra rest for Michael Brantley, Jose Abreu, and the bullpen could pay huge dividends for the club. And don't look now, but Jose Abreu is getting hot at just the right time!

Be sure to watch the video above for the full discussion.

And be sure to watch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every Monday on SportMapHouston's YouTube channel.

Listen to ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 FM for Houston's best sports talk.

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