Hey, Tuesday was a damn good sports day around these parts! The Astros won a nice, easy, non-nail biter against the San Francisco Giants by a score of 11-2, the Rockets notched their biggest playoff win in a couple decades, and ... drum roll, please ... Deshaun Watson returned to the practice field!
Granted, there were no shoulder pads, no tackling, no contact, and no game pressure, but if you survived the Tom Savage Era last November, then you know how much anticipation for the upcoming season has been attached to the right arm of Deshaun Watson, who hasn't thrown a ball for us in about six months, the longest six months since the Astros' 2013 season. Hell, it was fun on Tuesday just watching Watson, Bill O'Brien, and Tyrann Mathieu do a few minutes of interviews!
Indeed, organized team activities (otherwise known as OTA's) are underway, for one more day this week, then for a few more days over the next couple weeks. Two days in, here are a few things to watch for:
4. Bill O'Brien at ease
If there are any of you out there whose favorite part of the Texans' seasons the last few years was the inevitable, passive-aggressive, soap opera-style dust-up between Bill O'Brien and Rick Smith, well, they killed off your favorite character from that show. Rick Smith is no longer around, and now it's Bill O'Brien's (and Brian Gaine's) show. Man, with a franchise quarterback in place, a GM he actually likes, and a likely rejuvenated defense, O'Brien has to feel like he's driving into a different company every morning on his commute to the office. Certainly, his attire reflects a new, less stressful working environment...
O'Brien: Watson doing 7 on 7s and some individual work.— Marc Vandermeer (@TexansVoice) May 22, 2018
This is basically a passing and teaching camp (OTAs) pic.twitter.com/XQCqs6qlyu
BUCKET HAT, YO!
3. Honey Badger Era
I actually watched the full media sessions after Tuesday's workouts, one of which was Tyrann Mathieu's, and I'll be honest — I still can't believe he is a Houston Texan! I mean, the HONEY BADGER! The key with Mathieu, as is the case with about half the defense, will be health. He tore his ACL late in 2015, and had a shoulder issue in 2016, which led to decent but not great play in 2017. Hey, there's a reason he was available — INJURIES! That said, Mathieu claims he feels as good as he did when he was terrorizing offensive coordinators a couple years ago with his next level instincts and play making ability. With a one year, $7 million deal, Mathieu has a chance to be one of the biggest steals of the 2018 season.
2. Those NOT on the field
Speaking of injuries, there were a handful of fairly significant players who didn't take part in the first two days of OTA's, as they recover from injuries suffered last season. Specifically, we did not see defensive end J.J. Watt (broken leg), running back D'Onta Foreman (Achilles), and whatever-position-he-plays Jadeveon Clowney (recovering from minor knee procedure). I have no issue with any of these guys watching for now, as all are on track to be ready to go when it matters. With Clowney, the bigger thing to watch will be his contract situation. He has one year (his fifth year option on his rookie deal) left on his deal, and the smoke is heavy and billowing around NRG Stadium that he will get a gigantic contract extension in the next few months.
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1. Deshaun Watson, Season 2
Finally, the most important Texans employee in the building, fortunately, WAS on the practice field on Tuesday. As mentioned above, it's so nice to have Deshaun Watson back, but since there are no real highlights to consume from this week, here's a great piece from former Texans QB Dan Orlovsky on Watson shredding the Patriots last season....
Deshaun Watson was electric in his rookie year, but will the @HoustonTexans QB be a sophomore sensation?@danorlovsky7 breaks down some veteran throws by @deshaunwatson on #TuesdayMorningQuarterback. pic.twitter.com/VTnsXqa3EJ— GMFB (@gmfb) May 22, 2018
NOTE: The Texans open the 2018 regular season in New England against the Patriots on Sunday, September 9th.... 108 days from now. Not that I'm counting or anything.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.