EVERY-THING SPORTS

It sure seems like Houston Texans have a star in the making

Houston Texans Tank Dell
Tank Dell looks like the steal of the draft. Composite Getty Image.

The Houston Texans are a team on the come up. Part of that come up is establishing new stars. Finding guys that can play is one thing, but a team needs guys that will appeal to fans and others in order to further establish a brand. The brand? Winning, being popular, and must-see television. Sure, having numbers two and three overall at two of the most important positions on the field helps. A quarterback and a pass rusher impact winning far greater than a wide receiver can. But receivers can put asses every 18 inches with their flare for the dramatics.

Last week, I wrote about the Texans catching lightening in a bottle. Part of that was talking about my observations on several players. The one that stuck out the most was Tank Dell. His speed stuck out most, but there were other things I really liked about him:

Dawgs: I LOVED seeing guys get after it! Tank Dell was the most impressive guy vs. the Patriots. He's going to have the slot WR job locked up very soon. He may even push to start since he's clearly a matchup nightmare. Will Anderson Jr is so quick/fast. His speed/quickness jumps out at you when watching him. Seeing him blow up run plays and cause the QB to get sacked by trying to escape his pressure will be more fun when the games count.

When he was drafted, most probably thought Dell would be a slot receiver. After watching him play his first game, he may make waves to push for a starting job. His size (listed as 5'8, 165 pounds) isn't ideal for an X or Z receiver. The same was once said about guys like Tyreek Hill (5'10, 191 pounds) and Steve Smith Sr (5'9, 195 pounds). Both guys make/made a huge impact on the game from the X and Z positions despite size limitations. Hill is an All-Pro and considered one of the best receivers in the game. Smith Sr was an All-Pro as well and arguably a Hall of Famer.

Another reason I can see Dell earning a starting job is the wide receiver depth on this team. Nico Collins, Robert Woods, and Noah Brown are all listed ahead of him currently. Woods is a solid vet with 10 years experience. I expect him to start given his experience, especially with a rookie quarterback. Brown has five years, while Collins has two. Neither of those guys have shown they're entrenched. Collins is a big body who might start to give C.J. Stroud a big target on the outside. However, NONE of these guys create the matchup problem Dell does!

As you can see, I'm not the only one thinking this. Dell and Stroud have been working together since being drafted. One thing I've noticed is that Dell and Stroud both seem very committed to their craft and developing chemistry. Whenever a receiver and quarterback work on chemistry off the field and outside of practice, it tends to show up on game days. I want to give the other vets in the receiver room more credit, but this kid is so exciting. He's already a matchup nightmare.

While his size may be a concern, those other guys I listed, as well many others, have had productive careers being one of the smaller players on the field. Ideally, I'd like to see Collins and Dell start alongside Woods. This gives them a big body in Collins, a crafty vet in Woods, and Dell as a field-stretching matchup nightmare. Mark my words, this kid WILL be a star!

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Astros defeat the A's, 6-3. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a three-run homer to highlight Houston's six-run fourth inning that backed Justin Verlander's winning start, and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Friday night.

Verlander (3-2) struck out nine over six innings to increase hit total to 3,377, passing Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (3,371) for 10th on the career strikeouts list. He gave up two runs — one earned — on eight hits and didn't walk a batter for a second straight start and seventh time this year.

After another milestone to add to a long list of them, Verlander wasn't sure exactly how to feel.

“I feel like I should be more excited but I feel like I’m a little more introspective and reflective,” Verlander said. “A lot of sacrifices you make in this game, a lot of time away from the family, but I love it, so it’s pretty amazing. I don’t know if as a 21- or 22-year-old kid in professional baseball if I’d thought I’d be in the top-10 in anything. This sport’s been around for so long. Hard to put into words, but a lot of thoughts, a lot of thoughts went through my mind.”

When his teammates celebrated him once the special outing had ended, Verlander allowed himself to ponder the meaning.

Verlander remembers his first strikeout and he recalls one against Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas here at the Coliseum — and the pitcher wears No. 35 because of Thomas.

“I have a lot of great memories here,” he said.

A's manager Mark Kotsay, a former Oakland outfielder, has been witness to some of those.

“He’s just tough. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher. He knows his game plan and he executes it really well," Kotsay said. "He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.”

Yordan Alvarez added an RBI double and Josh Hader finished the 2-hour, 31-minute game with his seventh save for the Astros, who began a seven-game road trip.

After right-hander Ross Stripling (1-9) retired the first nine Houston hitters in order, Jose Altuve singled to start the fourth for the first of four straight hits that included Alex Bregman's two-run single.

The A's drew an announced crowd of 9,676 for the series opener after winning two of three against Colorado following an eight-game losing streak.

Miguel Andujar came off the injured list and immediately hit an RBI single in the first off Verlander and finished with three hits in his A's and season debut — including another run-scoring single in the seventh.

Andjuar's RBI marked the first time the A's have scored first in 18 games — ending the longest streak in franchise history. Batting cleanup, he also singled in the third.

Astros left fielder Chas McCormick robbed Max Schuemann of an extra-base hit when he crashed into the wall to make a great catch ending the eighth.

“That was a big play at the moment,” manager Joe Espada said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP José Urquidy was pulled from his rehab start with Triple-A Sugar Land because of right forearm discomfort. He has been on the injured list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. ... 1B José Abreu is scheduled to rejoin the club Monday in Seattle after playing at least two games with Triple-A Sugar Land as he works to regain his hitting rhythm.

Athletics: Andujar had been sidelined all season after having meniscus surgery on his right knee. He was claimed off waivers from the Pirates on Nov. 6. Oakland created roster room by optioning INF Brett Harris to Triple-A Las Vegas.

UP NEXT

RHP Spencer Arrighetti (2-4, 7.16 ERA) pitches for the Astros in the middle game opposite A's LHP JP Sears (3-3, 4.31).

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