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On the Texans-Patriots: 3 headlines 2 questions 1 bet

Kevin Johnson (right) is broken again. Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

 

3 Headlines

O'Brien Thought Gronk Caught It

Bill O'Brien said he thought Rob Gronkowski caught the ball from Tom Brady late in the second quarter and initially his eyes in the booth were unsure and those were the reasons he didn't use a timeout. 

"I very much realize I can take a timeout there," he said. "I decided not to because I felt from my vantage point that it was a catch and that's what I went with."

O'Brien said since seeing the play and the angles and in hindsight, he would take a timeout to hope they would buzz down.

"Surely I would've taken a timeout to see if they would have buzzed down," said O'Brien. 

Regardless of the review, O'Brien believes after watching the coaches film Gronkowski caught the ball. He also explained he didn't want to take a timeout, have the review go against the Texans, and let the Patriots have the time to scheme their next few plays. 

Seantrell Henderson finished for the year, Rankin and Davenport at tackle for now

Seantrell Henderson is done for the year with a "significant ankle injury" according to O'Brien. He will have surgery this week. 

Martinas Rankin, one of the team's third-round picks, made his debut yesterday as he headed to left tackle and Julién Davenport manned right tackle. 

"I think Martinas Rankin went in there and did a nice job, for a rookie, and I think he's going to be a really good player," said O'Brien. 

Rankin was pleased with his first real NFL action. 

"It's a learning experience," he said. "Hate to see a guy go down, one of my brothers, but I adjusted."

Rankin said he learned that he "belonged here" throughout the game and said there was plenty to work on for him. He said building chemistry with the line would be a focus as he hasn't had many reps with the group he played with yesterday. 

"No fear. I belong here. They brought me here for a reason."

The Texans only other tackle on the roster is Kendall Lamm. O'Brien said they would look at players in the building and the practice squad as well as likely work out some players. 

Kevin Johnson's return uncertain

Kevin Johnson left yesterday's game with a concussion, his second in a month. His status is up in the air going forward, but he won't be playing soon. 

"I think he will definitely miss a lot of time," O'Brien said of his injured cornerback. "Two [concussions] fairly close together, it's concerning."

Johnson had a rough day on the field, allowing a couple of big plays and drawing a holding penalty wiping out a third-down stop by the defense. Kayvon Webster is on the roster as a cornerback but O'Brien said he isn't ready for this week but trending the right way. Johnson Bademosi had quite a few key reps in the preseason when Johnson was out with his first concussion. Andre Chachere is a rookie cornerback on the practice squad.

2 Questions

Can O'Brien and Watson figure it out quickly?

Bill O'Brien and Deshaun Watson both were upset with the performance of the quarterback position in the loss to the Patriots. There were flashes though; Watson made a few nice throws and O'Brien's rhythm calling plays appeared once or twice. It has to be from the start though. 

O'Brien mentioned today the team needed to get "back to the basics" and that would be a good move. O'Brien said they needed to make better coaching decisions but Watson also has to make better decisions and the "rust" word showed up. He also agreed they needed to guard against letting Watson try to do too much. The easy stuff opened things up for the Texans yesterday and the rushing attack getting going was a nice sign and a bright spot in an otherwise dim offensive showing. 

Will Fuller and potentially Keke Coutee returning as well as a potentially healthier Sammie Coates would be huge for the Texans on offense against the Titans. Jordan Akins and Jordan Thomas both earned praise from O'Brien after their debut. With more weapons back and those players who took a lot of the reps together in the preseason the offense will have the chance to look totally different. It's up to O'Brien and Watson figuring it out though. 

Will the second half defense show up for a full game?

If they do, watch out. Everyone on the front seven started pretty slow for the most part but they looked far better in the second half. The Patriots managed just six points in the second half. The Texans defense sacked Tom Brady twice and hurried him five times after having zeros in those categories in the first half. Despite a few issues with coverage early, Johnathan Joseph had a nice game at cornerback as did Aaron Colvin. The safety play was good for most of the game as well. 

Credit to the Patriots, they were not going to let the Texans get to Brady like they did last year. Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney were both vocal about how they didn't like how they played in the game. If one of those two gets going, with Watt playing closer to his second half self, the defense will be a tough one to score on like many thought they would be. The Texans already have faced the best quarterback, coach, and offensive coordinator on their schedule. There are still dangerous offenses ahead, but, this defense showed plenty in the second half to get everyone excited about the next 15 games. 

1 Bet (0-1 on the season)

Just one more score and the over hits in Sunday's game but alas, it is called gambling. This week is another nod towards offense. The Texans dominated the Titans last year when Watson played against them, establishing the franchise record for points with 57. It was, incidentally, after the Patriots game as well. Mike Vrabel is the head coach of the Titans now and his defense was a mess with the Texans last year. This is the perfect get right opportunity against a defense that allowed a mildly talented Miami offense over 300 yards and 20 points. It will look a lot closer to last year's Titans game after the Patriots than Sunday's game against the Patriots. The Texans are scoring a ton this week and they should roll the Titans. 

 

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Watson's accusers appeared on Real Sports on Tuesday night. Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images.

HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel’s heavily promoted and much anticipated examination of Deshaun Watson’s legal mess involving alleged sexual misconduct shed little new light and merely presented a summary of well worn he said/she (x22) said accusations and denials.

The episode debuted Tuesday night on the premium cable service and will be repeated dozens of times throughout the week on HBO’s platforms. Check your local listings for times and channel.

The segment was hosted by Soledad O’Brien who presented compelling face-to-face interviews with two of the quarterback’s accusers: massage therapists Ashley Solis and Kyla Hayes. Their stories were detailed and graphic. Both cried during the interviews.

Solis: “As I’m working, he deliberately grabs himself and put his penis on my hand. I pulled my hand away instantly and I started crying. I told that I’m done. I don’t want to do this anymore.”

Solis said she felt threatened when Watson, before leaving the session, allegedly told her: “I know you have a career to protect, and I know that you don’t want anyone messing with it, just like I don’t want anyone messing with mine.”

Solis added, “That’s when I got really scared because that sounded like a threat to me.”

Hayes: “He wanted me to kind of make a V motion in his pelvic area. I just kept massaging and did what he asked, until his penis kept touching me repeatedly as I did it.”

Hayes said that Watson had an orgasm, which she said was “mortifying, embarrassing and disgusting.”

O’Brien asked Hayes why she continued to have contact via email with Watson after their encounter.

Hayes: "I wasn't sure what he was capable of. He could've physically assaulted me. He could've bashed my business, so I had to protect myself and my business the best way I saw fit. Did I ever see him again after that? No. Did I give him the runaround? Yes."

O’Brien pointed out that two separate grand juries in Texas heard criminal accusations against Watson and neither found enough evidence to indict him.

Solis and Hayes, and 20 other massage therapists have filed civil suits against Watson. The cases aren’t expected to reach a courtroom until next March. Both sides could reach a settlement before then which would effectively shut down any legal action against Watson. However, both sides say they aren’t interested in any pretrial settlements. That’s what they say now, anyway.

After being banished to the sidelines for the 2021 season by the Houston Texans, Watson signed a historic, 5-year fully guaranteed $230 million contract with the Cleveland Browns.

Hayes said she feels Watson “is being rewarded for bad behavior." Solis said, "It's just like a big screw you. That's what it feels like. That we (the Browns) don't care. He can run and throw, and that's what we care about.”

Watson currently is participating in preseason workouts with the Browns and, at the moment, is cleared to play the upcoming NFL season.

That is unless the NFL suspends Watson for some, most or all of the 2022 season. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said the league is nearing completion of its independent investigation into Watson’s case and will reach a decision “shortly,” probably this summer. The NFL and NFL Players Association mutually agreed to have former U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson decide whether or not Watson violated the league’s Personal Conduct Policy and what discipline should be handed down if he did.

The Browns are scheduled to play the Texans on Dec. 4 at NRG Stadium in Houston.

O’Brien said, while producing the Real Sports piece, she tried to interview Watson, his attorneys and the Cleveland Browns for their side of the story. All declined.

During a press conference in March to announce his joining the Browns, Watson denied any inappropriate behavior with the massage therapists.

Watson: “I never assaulted any woman. I’ve never disrespected any woman. I was raised to be genuine and respect everyone around me. I’ve never done the thing that these people are alleging. My mom and my aunties didn’t raise me that way.”

Leah Graham, a member of Watson’s legal team, sat for an interview after O’Brien’s segment was complete.

Graham: "It's 22 women. It's one lawyer. There's only one lawyer who was willing to take these cases. And as we know from Ashley Solis’ deposition, Mr. (Houston attorney Tony) Buzbee was not the first, probably not the second or third lawyer she went to, but he was the only one to take her case. Why? Not because it had merit, but because he would use these cases to increase his social media following and quite frankly to get on shows like this one.”

My reaction after watching the Real Sports segment? We weren’t in the room when the massage therapists worked on Watson. We weren’t in the grand jury room when evidence against Watson was presented. We don’t know what happened. We don’t know what will happen if these cases go to trial.

Until then all we have is one big, lurid, embarrassing mess. In American courtrooms, defendants are presumed innocent. That’s often the opposite in the court of public opinion. We’ll just have to wait while the wheels of justice grind painfully slow.

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