Building Chemistry

Randall Cobb discusses Texans’ offensive weapons and lays out 1 big adjustment he’s making

Composite image by Jack Brame

In a short sleeve hoodie with the words "Houston Texans" in big white letters across his chest, Randall Cobb took questions from reporters in a Zoom press conference on Tuesday. What was noticeably different about Cobb this time around was the goldish pair of glasses upon his face.

Last Wednesday, the 29-year-old receiver tweeted that he had just received his first pair of glasses, and spent the day reading all the labels across the room. Similar to anyone who almost went 30 years without the assistance from their spectacles, wearing eyeglasses daily is one of several intangibles Cobb will have to adjust to in 2020.

"I've had contacts the past couple of years, but I have not had my prescription change in two years," Cobb said. "When I went [to the eye doctor] my eyes have drastically gone in the wrong direction, and it was time for me to get glasses. My wife has been hounding me about that since I've been squinting my eyes at the t.v. — it was time to make that adjustment."

When Cobb agreed to a three-year contract with the Texans in late-March, it appeared that the wideout had more than enough time to get himself acclimated to his new team. COVID had just become an enormous concern in the U.S., but early indications suggested that the virus would possibly be gone by mid-summer. Fast forward to August and COVID is still around and perhaps more dangerous than before.

To help minimize its impact on the league and its players, the NFLPA prohibited group workouts while closing training facilities across the league. For players who deem themselves high-risk rather personally or family members, the NFL has given players until August 6 to opt-out of the 2020 season.

In what would have been a summer working out continuously with his new quarterback, Deshaun Watson, Cobb spent the offseason trying to ingrain himself into the Texans' offense virtually. Furthermore, building chemistry with Watson was far from Cobb's concern. As a husband and father, Cobb said making the decision to play this coming season was a tough choice to decide.

"If you think about it, the offseason program, we probably would have thrown three or four times a week for six or seven weeks — so, you're looking at about 25 to 30 opportunities to communicate, to go through routes and timing," he said. " He [Deshaun Watson] would be able to get a sense of the way my body moves, understanding of how I come out of routes and I would be able to get an understanding of his release, his ball placement and all those things. I think...we've had maybe five to seven opportunities to throw to each other so far."

"I have two young children at home. We spend a lot of time around our family. My wife's parents are above 65, so we understand the risk that we are faced with if they were to visit. It was a decision that definitely weighed heavily on me. I felt in this time, I'm comfortable."

Cobb will have to depend on his past experiences playing alongside other mobile quarterbacks throughout his career, due to the lack of chances to workout with Watson on the field. In his first eight seasons, Cobb played beside Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, where he became a Pro-Bowler in 2014 and recorded 5,524 yards with the Packers. In 2019, he became Dak Prescott's third favorite target (83), recording 828 reception yards and a career-best 15.1 yards per catch.

Despite playing with some of the league's most premier quarterbacks, Cobb missed the playoffs three consecutive seasons since 2017. His desire to compete for a championship consistently is what led to his choice to join the Texans. As a free agent, Cobb had several suitors — including a return to the Cowboys — but felt Watson's ability to win gave him the best chance to achieve his goal.

"One thing about Deshaun watching him on tape whenever I was making my decision is just his accuracy and his ability to make plays," he said. "You look at what he's done just in his first three years. You look at the course of his career from high school — he's a winner. He's found a way to win on the biggest stage at every level and I think he has that ability."

Houston's receiving corps will be under heavy scrutiny in 2020 following the departure of DeAndre Hopkins. Cobb will be one of four receivers expected to replace what Hopkins brought to the Texans' organization for seven consecutive seasons. But notwithstanding the loss of the All-Pro receiver, Cobb feels confident in the weapons the Texans have heading into the new season.

"When you look at what Brandin's (Cooks) been able to do in his career, what I've been able to do, what Will's (Fuller V) doing and what Kenny's (Stills) been able to do...and you put us all in a room together [it] allows us to help each other and play off of each other," Cobb said. "The best teams that I've been on have had three or four guys that you can throw into the game at any moment and they're going to be able to make plays and it's not just a team dialing in on one player, they have to figure out a way to cover the whole field."

Each day that passes will serve as another opportunity for Cobb to get acclimated to wearing his new glasses throughout his life. Hopefully, with figures crossed, that same opportunity will translate to the gridiron, as Cobb continue to get accustomed to the Texans this season.

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Houston now focused on postseason

Altuve and Correa homer, Astros drop final regular-season game

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With no playoff impact at stake if the Astros won or lost the game, Houston took Sunday's final regular-season game as a chance to get their lineup a few more at-bats before shifting focus to Tuesday's first game of the post-season. Here is a quick recap of the game against the Rangers:

Final Score: Rangers 8, Astros 4.

Record: 29-31, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Wes Benjamin (2-1, 4.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Chase De Jong (0-1, 14.73 ERA).

Houston's main bats get a final tune-up

Knowing they'd only have a couple of at-bats to work with, some of Houston's big bats took advantage, starting with Jose Altuve. He crushed a pitch in the top of the first, a solo homer to put the Astros in front 1-0. After the Rangers tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second, Altuve started the third with a walk before moving to third base on a Michael Brantley single, which improved Brantley's season average to .300.

Aledmys Diaz would pick up the RBI on a groundout to score Altuve, putting Houston back in front 2-1. In Correa's last at-bat in the top of the fourth, he extended the lead to 3-1 with a solo home run of his own.

Rangers hand Astros a loss to end the regular season

After getting the early run against Chase De Jong, the Rangers would put together a big inning against him in the fourth. After two one-out singles, Rougned Odor would give Texas their first lead of the day on a three-run homer to make it 4-3.

De Jong would continue to struggle in the inning, getting just one more out while loading the bases, prompting a move to the bullpen to bring in Nivaldo Rodriguez to try and eat up more innings. The Rangers greeted him with a two-RBI single to extend their lead to 6-3 before ending the fourth. Odor would hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, a solo shot to make it a four-run lead at 7-3.

Rodriguez allowed another run in the bottom of the seventh, making it 8-3. Diaz, who drove in a run earlier, would account for another RBI in the top of the eighth, getting Houston's third solo homer of the day. That would make it an 8-4 game, which would go final as the Rangers would win the regular season's last game.

Up Next: Houston's first game of the playoffs will be on Tuesday, with the start time and opponent TBD while the rest of today's games wrap up, and the schedule is announced. Regardless, the Astros are expected to begin that best-of-three series with Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

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