ROLE PLAY

This standout on special teams could be poised for a bigger role on defense for Texans

Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Houston Texans safety AJ Moore was unlikely to even make it this far in the NFL. As an undrafted player out of Ole Miss in 2018, the odds were against Moore even making Houston's roster a few years back. Moore has mostly made his impact in the league as one of the best special team players on the Houston roster. Now entering his third season in the NFL, indications from training camp this summer seem to indicate that Moore might have a much bigger role in Houston's defense.

"AJ plays with a lot of energy," Head Coach and General Manager Bill O'Brien said. "He does whatever you ask him to do. He puts the team first. He's definitely DTS. He's dependable, he's tough, he's smart. He has a really good role on our football team. He's improved on defense. He's improved on special teams. He's a fun guy to coach."

Moore has played 671 snaps on special teams in his first two seasons in the league and only 20 total on defense, all in 2019.

"With getting limited snaps, I've been able to -- when I'm on the sideline, I'm just able to learn," Moore said. "I can still get a feel for the game just looking, but I've been able to grow in the playbook and continue to watch the speed of the game, and so now when I'm in there I can execute at a high level."

Moore has been singled out all summer by his teammates for his drastic improvements in his overall game including strong praise from quarterback Deshaun Watson.

"His confidence, he's a complete player. He's been able to play so many different roles and do so many different things, and he comes each and every day and competed," Watson said. "Regardless if he makes a play or [doesn't] make a play, he's always getting up with great positive energy, positive attitude, and always competing regardless of what the situation is or how he's feeling that day."

Moore has been working towards an opportunity to play more on defense and the Texans hope that Moore's strong play in training camp translates to gamedays starting next Thursday in Kansas City against Patrick Mahomes and the defending champs.

"This is going on my third year now, and of course, I made my role on special teams first, but I've just been trying to continue to get better and better at safety, and that's what I've done," Moore said. "I just continued to work hard and learn and to just grow to get better. That's just been my main focus. I've learned a lot over the years, and I've been able to make a couple of plays for the team, and that's what I'm here for. That's what I want to do."

Jake Asman is a national host on SportsMap Radio. You can listen to The Jake Asman Show weekdays from 8 AM - 10 AM Central.

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Houston gets another victory in Anaheim

Astros overpower Angels again as magic number dwindles

Kyle Tucker had 3 of Houston's RBI on Tuesday night, including a two-run homer. Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

After a beatdown of the Angels on Monday in the opener, the Astros entered Tuesday's game looking to replicate that success. Though Los Angeles would put up more of a fight, Houston still used their potent offense to keep the game out of reach.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 5

Astros' Record: 90-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (8-3)

Losing Pitcher: Packy Naughton (0-3)

Houston's bats keep connecting to back up Urquidy

The Astros picked up on Tuesday's game where they left off on Monday, launching homers to take and extend a lead. A leadoff walk by Carlos Correa in the top of the second set up Kyle Tucker, who drove a two-run shot. Aledmys Diaz was next, making it back-to-back jacks to push the new lead to 3-0.

That gave Jose Urquidy a lead to work with, which came in handy as former Astro Jack Mayfield cut the lead to two runs with a leadoff solo homer in the bottom of the second. Other than that, Urquidy did well through five innings, allowing just two other hits over that span. LA got to him in the sixth, getting two singles to set up a three-run homer to end his night. His final line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 79 P.

The runs keep coming

He would still leave in line for the win, though, as before that bottom of the sixth, the Astros had put up seven more runs across the fifth and sixth. A leadoff walk in the top of the fifth was followed by a two-run homer by Jose Altuve, then later in the frame, an RBI single by Aledmys Diaz made it 7-1. They pushed that to double digits in the sixth, with a leadoff solo shot by Martin Maldonado, a sac fly by Carlos Correa, and an RBI groundout by Kyle Tucker, putting them up 10-1 before the homer allowed by Urquidy cut that to 10-4.

Astros win to reduce magic number again

In the sixth, Cristian Javier took over for Urquidy, finished that inning, and returned for a scoreless seventh. He ran into Shohei Ohtani to lead off the bottom of the eighth and left a fastball in the zone, which Ohtani turned around 445 feet to make it a five-run game. Javier still got through the inning, leaving just the ninth for Houston's second reliever of the night, Josh James. James would get through a scoreless inning, erasing a leadoff walk as the lopsided win paired with an A's loss reduces Houston's magic number to 4.

Up Next: The third of this four-game series will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Wednesday. Janson Junk (0-1, 2.25 ERA) will make his third career start for the Angels, while Luis Garcia (11-7, 3.37 ERA) will have the ball for the Astros.

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