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    October 10, 2018 2:49 PM IST
    HOUSTON (AP) — Deshaun Watson was back in a game this week for the first time since surgery to repair a right knee injury in November [url=]Authentic Tracy Walker Jersey[/url] , and although he didn’t play long, he relished his return.

    “I just played five snaps, handed the ball off, threw one pass,” Watson said. “So, it wasn’t too bad. Good to just go out there for a couple plays and then watch everyone else perform.”

    The Houston Texans quarterback is looking to build on his limited action as the team prepares for two practices with the San Francisco 49ers next week before hosting them in their second preseason game on Saturday.

    Watson’s health and development in his second year will be critical as Houston tries to bounce back from a season filled with injuries during which the team went 4-12 for its first losing season since 2013. Though he played in just seven games before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in practice, Watson gave the Texans optimism that he’ll be the answer to their longtime problems at the position.

    He threw for 1,699 yards and 19 touchdowns and ran for 269 yards and two more scores after Houston traded up to select him with the 12th overall pick in the 2017 draft.

    Saturday was the team’s first practice back in Houston after the Texans spent the first part of training camp in West Virginia. Although they had to adjust to the hotter temperatures at home, Watson and the Texans got a boost from working out in front of several hundred cheering fans.

    “The climate … it’s hot and muggy but at the end of the day we have to come out here and play football and perform and just focus on our task,” he said. “So, it’s always good to have the fans around and show love. They give us energy and high hopes for this season.”

    The 22-year-old said he’s grown a lot since arriving in Houston last season and is looking forward to building on what he did last year.

    “Just really (grown) as a person as a whole and then just the knowledge of the game,” he said. “Just being able to understand the offense [url=]Adidas Ryan Johansen Jersey[/url] , understand what the defense is doing and just play faster, just go out there and play and not overthink things.”

    Coach Bill O’Brien, who worked with Tom Brady when he was an assistant with the Patriots, has enjoyed watching Watson develop and is looking for ways to help him take another step.

    “I think there’s areas where he and I need to grow together, like in the red area,” he said. “We’re a little bit behind there but we have to work together on that and see if we can execute better down there, but I think there’s a lot of areas where he’s gotten better and better, and he’ll only get better and better because he works at it and the experience he gets will really help him.”

    Watson is working behind a revamped offensive line this year after last year’s group allowed the second-most sacks in the league. So far, he likes the way the unit is coming together.

    “Guys just building chemistry, working hard each and every day, never complaining,” Watson said. “They make mistakes [url=]Youth Barkevious Mingo Jersey[/url] , but at the end of the day they correct those mistakes and don’t make it twice, just like everyone else on the offense. Just guys that love to play football. They have a passion about going in … and putting in the work, and (are) passionate about winning.”

    GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The young talent of the Arizona Coyotes had an adjustment period under new coach Rick Tocchet last season. By the time they made it around the learning curve, any thought of the playoffs had long passed.

    Backed by the confidence of a strong finish to 2017-18, key additions and a year in Tocchet’s system under their skates, the Coyotes are hoping to take a straight line to playoff contention this season.

    “This is a franchise that’s about to turn a corner,” Coyotes President and CEO Ahron Cohen said. “We really see this as a sleeping giant.”

    Expectations wilted quickly last season when the Coyotes lost their first 10 games and went 9-26 through late December.

    A late-season push — 17-9-3— boosted their confidence heading into this season. Those young, talented guys have another year of NHL experience and know Tocchet’s system. A string of offseason moves added scoring and depth. A new captain, locked up in a long-term deal, provides stability.

    A bid to make the playoffs — or at least be in contention — is not the longshot it’s been the past six postseason-less years.

    “Obviously you’ve got a lot more veteran guys, established guys [url=][/url] ,” Coyotes GM John Chayka said. “Our youth has grown up, they’ve had a year or two years in the league, so you expect that they take that next step.”

    A few things to look for from the Arizona Coyotes in 2018-19:

    CAPTAIN OEL: The Coyotes took a big step toward securing their long-term future by signing defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to an eight-year deal that averages $8.25 million per season. The four-time All-Star had already taken more of a leadership role in the wake of Shane Doan’s retirement before last season and will be counted on even more after being named captain in preseason camp.

    “There’s a responsibility that he wants to lead this team into the next level,” Tocchet said. “He’s also a quality person. Everyone looks at him as a hockey player, but he’s a quality person.”

    THE NEW GUYS: A year after making major roster changes, the Coyotes again were busy during the offseason.

    Arizona traded feisty and skilled forward Max Domi to Montreal for Alex Galchenyuk and added wingers Michael Grabner and Vinnie Hinostroza. The moves should give the Coyotes scoring depth, with numerous players capable of putting up 20-goal seasons.

    “If you go down the list, you go, Oh jeez, this guy can score 18 or this guy can score 24,” Tocchet said. “If you look up and down the lineup, there are guys with the potential to score these amount of goals. And when you add it all up [url=][/url] , is there enough goals to win? Yeah, I think so.”

    A big key: Keeping them healthy. Galchenyuk, Dylan Strome and Christian Dvorak all battled injuries during preseason camp. Galchenyuk will miss the start of the season and he is week to week with a lower-body injury.

    RAANTA’S RETURN: The Coyotes traded for goalie Antti Raanta last season, hoping he would thrive in a No. 1 role. He did — when he was healthy.

    Raanta was limited to 47 games last season, but had a winning record, finishing 21-17-6. He had a 2.24 goals-against average and .930 save percentage for a team that gave up plenty of shots, and got better as the season went along.

    A healthy Raanta this season could go a long way to keeping Arizona in the playoff picture.

    KELLER’S RISE: Forward Clayton Keller got his rookie season off to a fast start, cooled off and finished with a flourish. He was a Calder Trophy finalist and finished the season with 23 goals and 42 assists. The key for his sophomore season: Becoming more consistent.

    “Any NHL player — the guy is turning 20 years old — consistency is key,” Tocchet said. “I’m not saying he’s inconsistent, but the great ones have a bad night and usually the next night they bounce back. That’s one of the things he’s probably going to learn.”

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