Texans training camp preview: Quarterbacks

Deshaun Watson is the man heading into camp. Photo by Edward Clarke

For the first time in a long time there’s no doubt about the quarterback position going into training camp. Deshaun Watson is the franchise and heads into this thing with only his health to worry about. Returning from his torn ACL takes time and while he looks ready to go, it will be up to the coaching staff to keep him on a reasonable snap count while he tests himself in a more regimented practice.

That leaves plenty of playing time for the team to address the real need under center, the one that tanked their 2017 season; Watson’s backup. The fiasco that was Tom Savage is gone, but a lack of available options has left the position still in flux. Currently the options are Brandon Weeden, Joe Webb, and Stephen Morris. The frontrunner is obviously Weeden at this point.

If that doesn’t boost your confidence then you’re not alone. But don’t worry, it could be worse. They could be without Weeden. His seven years have to count for something and it’s not like there are a lot of great options available in free agency. He’s played in the system before so his learning curve won’t be as steep and he is at least capable in a backup role.

Joe Webb has nine years in the NFL but has thrown a total of 159 passes, only seven of those coming after 2011. He’s been used mostly for his athleticism, at times playing positions other than quarterback. He will most likely be in camp the help the offense mimic Watson’s athleticism but not a serious threat to take over as the No. 2 guy.

Stephen Morris is just another guy. He’s been around the league since 2014 but has yet to make a roster. He’s got a great arm, but his accuracy and pocket presence still haven’t quite developed since college. Maybe Bill O’Brien really sees something coachable in him and at 25 years old they keep a third quarterback to develop. I doubt it but stranger things have happened.

Overall, the team is in good shape as long as Watson is ready in Week 1 against the Patriots. Before his injury in Week 8 last season he had a QB rating of 103, on pace to be the highest in franchise history. He was also leading the league in touchdown passes and on pace to throw for more than 4,000 yards. With those numbers he would have been a top contender for Rookie of the Year honors and probably a Pro-Bowl selection.

The goal of the head coach and front office for this position should be a stiff competition for the backup quarterback job. It wouldn’t surprise me if either Webb or Morris were kept on a very short leash while conversations are started with one or two veterans still on the market. Austin Davis, Mark Sanchez and Matt Moore are all names to be considered if the Texans want to go that route. But I assume they will just announce that the job belongs to Weeden and focus attention to other positions of need.


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Zack Greinke earned his 10th win of the season in Sunday's finale agains the Rangers. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With the first two wins of the series under their belt, the Astros entered Sunday looking to take care of business before heading on the road. Despite the Rangers taking the first lead of the day, the Astros responded on offense and defense to erase the deficit to get the victory.

Final Score: Astros 3, Rangers 1

Astros' Record: 61-39, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Zack Greinke (10-3)

Losing Pitcher: Dennis Santana (0-1)

Greinke, with some help, notches a quality start

Zack Greinke was doing well in the early goings of Sunday's finale. Despite allowing back-to-back singles to start the game, he stranded both runners to finish the top of the first. He followed that by erasing two more runners in the second, starting a stretch of eight straight batters which he would retire to make it through one out in the top of the fifth without allowing a run.

Texas finally added a blemish to his day at that point, getting a solo homer to grab their first lead in weeks. Greinke rebounded from it, sitting down the next two batters to finish the frame, then posted a 1-2-3 sixth. He returned for the top of the seventh, but would end his day with a struggle, loading the bases with no outs on a single, hit batter, and walk. That prompted Dusty Baker to bring in Cristian Javier, who saved Greinke's stat line by getting a strikeout and double play to keep the Rangers from scoring. Greinke's line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 86 P.

Houston grabs the lead

Houston's starter would leave in line for the win, thanks to the work of Cristian Javier, but also some timely offense in the two innings prior. With not much going for them in the first four innings, the Astros tried to take advantage of Chas McCormick being on base in the bottom of the fifth, sending him for a potential hit and run with Abraham Toro swinging.

That turned into two runs, with McCormick able to slow his run as Toro would launch a two-run go-ahead homer to erase the Rangers lead quickly. They extended the lead to two runs in the next inning, with Yordan Alvarez working a walk and then later scoring on an RBI single by Kyle Tucker, making it 3-1.

Astros finish the sweep

After cleaning up the inherited mess in the top of the seventh, Javier remained on the mound in the top of the eighth and made it through a 1-2-3 inning to give him six outs against five batters. With it still a two-run game in the top of the ninth, Ryan Pressly entered for the save opportunity. He notched it, sitting down the Rangers 1-2-3 to finish the sweep, handing Texas their twelfth straight loss.

Up Next: The Astros will head out west for an eight-game road trip starting with a three-game set with the Mariners kicking off at 9:10 PM Central on Monday. In the opener, Luis Garcia (7-5, 2.86 ERA) for Houston is slated to go opposite Darren McCaughan (0-0, 1.80 ERA), who will make his second career appearance and first start for Seattle.

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