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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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McCullers Jr. out-pitched friend and former teammate Dallas Keuchel on Father's Day. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With three impressive wins to start this series against the once AL-leading Chicago White Sox, Houston tried to extend their winning streak to seven games and finish a four-game sweep on Father's Day. Thanks to a big inning against former-Astro Dallas Keuchel, they would win to keep their hot streak going.

Final Score: Astros 8, White Sox 2

Astros' Record: 43-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (4-1)

Losing Pitcher: Dallas Keuchel (6-2)

Rough return to Houston for Keuchel

In his first game against his old squad, Dallas Keuchel would not have a memorable start on the mound for Chicago. Houston made him labor in the first inning, loading the bases though they only came away with one run on an RBI single by Abraham Toro, grabbing the early 1-0 lead. After going down 1-2-3 in the second, they got after Keuchel again in the third.

They ended up batting around against him that inning, including a two-RBI single by Yordan Alvarez, RBI double by Taylor Jones, and bases-loaded RBI-walk by Jose Altuve, which would end Keuchel's day very early and leave the bases juiced. Chicago's bullpen would walk another batter to give Keuchel another earned run, making it a 6-2 game, with all six going against the former Houston ace. Carlos Correa extended the lead to five runs in the next inning, hitting a leadoff solo home run to make it 7-2.

McCullers Jr. gives up two over six

That gave Lance McCullers Jr. a nice lead to work with, and he managed it well. He had one big mistake in the early goings of the game, giving up a one-out single in the second to set up a two-run home run, which at the time put Chicago in front 2-1 before Houston's offense came alive. He followed that up with four scoreless innings, erasing a walk in each with some tremendous defense behind him—his final line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 94 P.

Astros complete the sweep to jump on top of the standings

Still a six-run game in the top of the seventh, Blake Taylor entered as the first reliever out of Houston's bullpen, tossing a 1-2-3 frame. He continued in the top of the eighth, getting two strikeouts in another scoreless inning. The 8-2 score would go final as Ralph Garza Jr. would enter as the third pitcher of the day to wrap things up with a scoreless top of the ninth to finish the four-game sweep. The win, their seventh straight, paired with an Oakland loss earlier in the afternoon, moves Houston into the top spot in the AL West based on winning percentage.

Up Next: This long stretch of consecutive games continues on Monday in Baltimore, as the Astros pick up a seven-game road trip starting with a three-game set against Baltimore getting underway at 6:05 PM Central. Jake Odorizzi (1-3, 5.68 ERA) will get the start for Houston, going opposite of Keegan Akin (0-2, 5.76 ERA) for the Orioles.

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