"One guy tweets a lot. One guy doesn't have Twitter." Gipson aims to prove he's different

Tashaun Gipson not aiming to fill departed Mathieu's role

Tashaun Gipson not aiming to fill departed Mathieu's role
Cody Stoots/SportsMap

The Texans may have let Tyrann Mathieu walk and replaced his starting spot with free agent Tashaun Gipson. They both play the same position but that's where Gipson wants to make clear the similarities end.

"I'm big on everybody is different," he said. "What he brought to the table, I respect his game. I truly do...I'm a different guy."

Gipson is indeed. Mathieu is infamous for his back and forth's on Twitter with fans and media. Gipson made it clear he doesn't have Twitter. The former Jaguars defender wanted to be clear he isn't coming to Houston to be compared to the current Chiefs defensive back.

"I might not be as rah-rah or as vocal as he is about certain things," Gipson said. "Certain things might push his buttons different than mine. The biggest thing is I don't want anybody to compare me to him, especially with things that the naked eye can't see."

One of the things that is easy to see is Gipson's success against tight ends in his career. He promises more of the same with the Texans.

"Obviously, we're just getting our feet wet and we haven't cemented a role, but just know the best tight ends that are coming into NRG (Stadium), I'm going to put the clamps on them."

Gipson on Justin Reid: "Oh man, the first thing that you realize is that he's definitely a smart guy. I sit next to him in the meetings and I try to pick his brain. Other people had said he's almost too smart. He's a guy who knows everything."

On the team welcoming him: "Obviously, they don't know anything about me besides the stuff they've heard about me or seen whether we watch crossover film and things of that (nature), but I think the one thing I can say about here – and I'm not one to compare – but, it's just a bunch of guys that just want to have fun, go out there, play football and win games. I was accepted with open arms. It's a little different. A lot of teams have guys with egos and things like that."

On playing in Texas where he now lives: "Just being home, I'm a Texas boy. I love the state of Texas. I love the offseason. I love coming home, so for me to be able to be back here in my home state of Texas, I'm three hours up the street. My house is literally three hours and 10 minutes. I GPSed it, trust me. It's three hours and 10 minutes, so for me to just be straight up 45, I can't express how excited I am about this opportunity. You have no idea. I'm going to give this organization everything I got."

"I'm excited. My son is my protégé. He's a good football player. If you haven't checked out my Instagram, you might need to. He's that nice."

He wasn't lying.

Kalil aiming to prove worth and health

The Texans signed oft-injured left tackle Matt Kalil this offseason. He represents a bargain option for the offensive line that struggled last season. Kalil has played in just 30 of the 48 possible regular season games the past three seasons. He's aiming, on his only year of his contract, to prove he still belongs in the NFL.

"I kind of like being on a one-year deal," he said. "I think you learn a lot about yourself when your back's against the wall. All the cards are against you, but at the same time here, I've put good film on tape. It's always been everyone always knows what kind of player I can be."

Kalil said he believed in the Texans to take care of his body and get the most out of him this season.

"I feel like here, with everything they have going with their weight lifting, their sport science side of it, their training staff – kind of all that accumulated together, I think, it was going to keep me healthy and get the results that I want on the field."

Watt's Fun Offseason

J.J. Watt was thrilled to be healthy this offseason. The first time he has had an healthy offseason in three years.

He's also been hanging out this summer with his brothers Derek Watt, the Chargers fullback, and T.J. Watt, the Steelers outside linebacker.

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The Astros are back in action Friday night against the A's. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

The Astros need to whip up on the Oakland A’s this weekend in California as they did in sweeping four from them last week at Minute Maid Park. That was the start of a homestand which ended up with seven wins in 10 games. That goes down as a successful homestand, especially since it felt like the Astros’ prior winning homestand came while Donald Trump was President (it actually started in late July). Still, 7-3 doesn’t feel like a smashing success with it ending by dropping two of three games to the lowly Los Angeles Angels.

It is not exactly with bated breath that anyone should be waiting on Jose Abreu’s return to the lineup, but it’s coming. It should not be on this road trip. After the three games with the A’s the Astros move up the coast for a big four game set with American League West leading Seattle. The M's start all right-handed pitchers. That is no time to sit Jon Singleton to see if Abreu has managed to pump a few drops of gas into his tank while spending the better part of this month at the Astros’ minor league complex. It’s not as if Singleton has been stellar since Abreu’s departure, but by comparison, he’s been Lou Gehrig-esque. The series with the Mariners isn’t make or break but the Astros are strongly advised to get at least a split. That it should be Framber Valdez starting the opener Monday night doesn’t breed tremendous confidence, coming off his meltdown outing against the Angels. Another start, another opportunity.

The Mariners are at the Nationals this weekend, starting it a mere four and a half games ahead of the Astros. In four of the five other divisions the Astros' 22-28 record would have them at least 10 games off the lead.

One step forward, two steps back

Speaking of washed-up first basemen, Joey Votto should be a future Hall of Famer. The 40-year-old Canadian is trying to make it back to the big leagues via the minor leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays. Votto was an absolutely tremendous player with the Cincinnati Reds. As the Beastie Boys said, “Ch-check it out.” Over Jeff Bagwell’s first ten seasons with the Astros he hit .305 with a .417 on-base percentage and .552 slugging percentage, yielding a phenomenal .970 OPS. Over Votto’s first ten full seasons with the Reds: .313/.429/.540 for an exactly phenomenal .970 OPS. Where am I going with this? Read on!

Votto had phenomenal strike zone and bat control. He turned 30 during the 2013 season. That year Votto had 581 at bats. He popped out to an infielder once the entire season. Alex Bregman turned 30 the third day of this season. Bregman popped out to the shortstop four times in the Angels series. So much for Bregman’s “knob past the ball” epiphany that saw him hit three home runs over two games last week. Going into the weekend Bregman has one hit in his last 23 at bats. His season stats continue to be pitiful: a .209 batting average and .607 OPS. Bregman has only struck out once in the 23 at bats of his latest deep freeze. It’s that so much of his contract is feeble. There is a lot of season left for Bregman to build up to decent numbers, but one-third of the regular season will be complete after the Astros play the Mariners Monday night.

While Bregman’s season to date has basically been one long slump, Jose Altuve is in a funk of his own. Since blasting a homer Monday, Altuve is hitless in 12 at bats. Mini-slumps happen to everybody but Altuve’s woes trace back farther. Over his last 15 games, Altuve is batting .175. He last had more than one hit in a game May 5. He’s also drawn just two walks over those 15 games. It’s tough to ever sit Altuve, but he’s probably playing a little too much. Altuve turned 34 earlier this month. He has started 48 of the Astros 50 games at second base. Mauricio Dubon should be getting a start per week at second (and probably another at third given Bregman’s level of play). Over a full season not playing the field once per week still means 135 starts. Altuve should mix in some more at designated hitter (he has just one DH game so far this season). Wear and tear is a real thing, players don’t grow less susceptible to it as they get to their mid-30s.

King Tuck

On the flip side, Kyle Tucker! So far this season, he’s making himself as much money as Bregman is costing himself. Only Shohei Ohtani (1.069) starts the weekend action with an OPS higher than Tucker’s 1.060. The law of averages dictates that Tucker won’t finish as high as 1.060, but if he does, it would be the greatest full-length season offensive performance in Astros’ history. Jeff Bagwell posted an absurd 1.201 OPS in the strike-shortened 1994 campaign. Yordan Alvarez came in at 1.067 in his 87 games played rookie season of 2019. Lance Berkman’s 2001 was a monster. Enron Field was more hitter-friendly then than Minute Maid Park is now, but Berkman’s numbers were “Oh My Gosh!” spectacular. .331 batting average, 55 doubles (second in franchise history to Craig Biggio's 56 in 1999), 34 homers, .430 on-base percentage, .620 slugging percentage, and 1.051 OPS. And that was just Berkman’s second full season in the majors. Lance finished fifth in National League Most Valuable Player Award voting. Giant-headed Barry Bonds won MVP with his 73 home runs among other sicko stats.

* Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I 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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