Throughout my travels (mostly to the grocery store), I get asked a lot of things about the Texans. But one topic stands out above the rest: injuries.
Yet no one has ever called me Dr. Vandermeer.
Actually, that's a lie, I have used that title in reference to the way Bill O'Brien occasionally addresses questions about what his players have said regarding their injuries.
For instance, If, in a press conference, O'Brien is told that a player, say Jadeveon Clowney, said to the media that he'll be available despite a reported injury, O'Brien might say, "Well, I hope Dr. Clowney is right."
So I've sometimes said things like this on the Texans shows: "Dr. Vandermeer's diagnosis, based on my years of experience, is that (Player X's) status is up in the air."
During a game broadcast, I'm way more formal. And I need to use vague yet telling descriptions on how players look when they are apparently hurt. You never want to speculate, out of respect for the player's family and out of good old fashioned common sense.
If I said a player appears to have a knee injury, he might have actually hurt a hamstring. Then, before you know it, Twitter has me reporting incorrect information. If I said a player looks "fine" then he gets diagnosed with a concussion, I'm public enemy number one.
Here are a few ways I keep my extremely amateur 'Dr.' status –
"He's walking gingerly."
"He's slow to get up."
"He'll be looked at on the sideline."
And the old standby…
"He's shaken up on the play."
I do NOT use this one that many broadcasters use – "He's in a lot of discomfort."
Discomfort is when VanderWife steals all the pillows and I'm left with the one I hate. That's not a word I'm using to describe a player's level of pain. I can only imagine how these guys might feel after a high speed collision on the gridiron.
Bill O'Brien gets asked about injuries all the time. And he LOVES it. (No he doesn't. I'm kidding. Ask him and you risk getting the same stare than an official receives after a questionable call. I'll bet O'Brien would prefer root canal work than field questions about injuries.) One of my favorite responses of his if an injury isn't deemed to be too severe is – "It's not life threatening."
And I guess that's the best way to describe the bulk of injuries we are zeroed in on as the team heads into camp. Just about everyone (according to the coach, not me) was progressing nicely as the Texans broke minicamp.
Whitney Mercilus looked like his old self, at least the OTA version. Deshaun Watson didn't do 11-on-11 work but did 7-on-7 and participated in post practice workouts with the athletic trainers that looked pretty darn convincing. As far as J.J. Watt goes, O'Brien said he wouldn't bet against him. And that's about all the medical information we will get for now.
As far as their overall availability and how they look, we'll all find out together when the team hits the Houston Methodist Practice Field at The Greenbrier in a couple of weeks. Follow direct-from-the-sideline coverage right here. Until then, the Dr. is out.