This week, the 3rd week of the NFL preseason is usually the week in which most coaches play the starters. Look for this to hold true with the Houston Texans this week against the New Orleans Saints. After last weeks win over the 49ersHouston Texans coach Gary Kubiak said he would play the starters for probably 3 quarters in this game and not at all to finish the preseason off against the Vikings next week. Against the 49ers we did get a good solid half out of RB Arian Foster and starting QB Matt Schaub but not of the others on the offensive unit including the O line. This week we will, and here are some things to look for during this weeks Houston Texans game.
All through this preseason there’s been a battle at the RT position between Rashad Butler and Derek Newton both looking to replace a great player in Eric Winston who was released to make up some cap room this off season. Both have played very well and still no word on who really has the upper hand in the battle. Both have been rotating in and out with the starting unit, and both have actually started games this preseason. If I had to guess I’d say Butler has the upper hand being more of a veteran than 2nd year player Newton, but I can’t give a guarantee there. It’ll be a battle worth watching for the remainder of the preseason.
After a horrible start to the season, Arian Foster looked more like his old, calm, and patient self against the 49ers last week. Not breaking a big run until late in the 2nd quarter but grinding away at the defense until his time was there. I’m looking for more of that from him this week as is coach Kubiak I would imagine. Last season in a regular season shoot out between these teams Foster was injured and was forced to watch his back up Ben Tate be pretty productive gaining 82 yards on 19 carries. This is the preseason, but I expect Foster still has something to prove to himself and the team this weekend. Foster also fumbled his first carry of the preseason and hasn’t since but he’ll need another strong game without giving it back to the defense at all for Kubiak to be satisfied. Foster has come a long way since signing as a undrafted player but needs to show him carrying the ball consistently without fumbling isn’t an issue.
Andre Johnson saw his first action of the whole preseason last week and felt really good about what he was able to do out on the field. “It was just a lot of fun,”said Johnson. ”I was anxious to get back out there and actually get tackled for the first time. It felt good to be back on the field and play in front of our fans.” He was able to show he is still a threat deep for QB Matt Schaub when open and even when double covered like he was on the only catch he made that night. On his catch against double coverage, Johnson said, “It was a double-move, and I saw the corner on the other side, lagging behind. He saw me running across the field, but he waited to try to intercept the ball. I guess he thought the ball was just going to come up on him.”
QB Matt Schaub looked really good in his final scoring drive last week as well. He was on the field against some of the 49ers 2nd team players, but he was also out there with 2nd unit receivers. He moved the ball like he usually does and finally looked like himself on the field. He’ll be playing against a Saints defense that has been re-made in a way. Steve Spagnuolo isn’t quite the same type of coordinator as Gregg Williams was. No all out blitzes, no crazy formations, just plain 4 man fronts. This should fare well for Schaub who’s usually under tons of pressure when these teams meet whether it’s preseason or regular season. Expect Kubiak to rotate a bunch of recievers in the game through out the 3 quarters to see who Schaub has a feel for out of the younger players. Should see guys like Lestar Jean, Keshawn Martin, and Devier Posey on the field with Schaub sometime during the game.
DE JJ Watt and DT Shaun Cody will both still be out but should be ready for the regular season opener. Watt dislocated his elbow and Cody injured his back a couple weeks back. Also the Texans lost DT Ra’shon Harris for the season with a torn tricep. Be looking for 2nd year player Earl Mitchell to get a lot a clock this week. Also rookie Hebron Fangupo will get his chance to show he’s ready to play now. With Watt out we will get to see some more of rookie DE Jared Crick. Crick has been really good on the field when out there. Now with Watt out he can try to prove he deserves more time on the field.
The Texans have went from having one of the worst pass defenses to having too many good CB’s. With the addition of veteran Alan Ball, they are extremely deep at the position. Including young players finally looking like they’re playing to their potential. Roc Carmicheal, Sharrick McMannis, and Brandon Harris are all players that are looking to make an impression on the coaching staff this week and next. They all have legitimate chances to make the 53 man roster and all really want that nickel back job this year.