The preseason is finally finished and the Houston Texans finished with a 3-1 record with a loss to the Minnesota Vikings 28-0. This was a game for majority of the reserves to showcase their abilities and prove they belong with the team.
This game gave opportunities for players to be focused on for scouting purposes, and some made a last-ditch effort with their play to make an impression.
Here are some thoughts from Thursday's contest.
1. Damoine Lewis has finally been healthy enough to get some playing time since his quad injury that put him on the sideline early in training camp. The 301 lbs. defensive lineman looked decent against the Vikings second stringers and was in the backfield consistently, as he should be against inferior players. He lined up at nose tackle and at 5 technique (Defensive End) and looked like he could contribute to both positions during the season. Lewis gives the defensive line some much-needed depth and could provide some much need bulk on the defensive front.
2. I have been one of Brian Braman's biggest critics, but theRealallenOU, told me last night "you can't teach speed", and Braman has it. I don't see him making the active roster, but he has a realistic shot of making the practice squad. He has the ability to get into position to make plays, but last night he couldn't finish the play. Braman is a project, but the Texans can't afford to have projects on their active roster because the time to win is now in Houston. I have been impressed with the Texans ability to bring in undrafted free agents who push for spots and Braman is one of these nice surprises.
3. One of the biggest question marks as the preseason went on was Dorin Dickerson, and last night he had an ok game. He was penalized for a holding call on a Chris Ogbonnaya run that gained some nice yards. Then he was given the ball on a reverses and TXCleaver said this: "He looked like a DE on fumble recovery on the end around." Everytime Dickerson touched the ball last night he looked lost and immediately looked for contact. BigRon281 says "he needs to lose about 10 lbs." and I agree with that because he looks a little heavier since the beginning of training camp. He had one catch for 15 yards and one rush for 14 yards, even though it was unimpressive, I still think Dickerson makes the team as the #5 receiver, because...
4. Of the sudden play of Bryant Johnson. Signing a one-year deal on Monday, he was playing on Thursday in Minnesota and looked like he has been in the offense since the beginning of camp. A big target Johnson had three catches for 64 yards which is impressive for the fact he showed more in one game that most receivers on the roster did the whole preseason. Where he ends up on the depth chart is a mystery, but the fact he looked better that Jacoby Jones in one game speaks volumes on the lack of real depth in the position. Johnson caused issues for the secondary with his size and made a case that the Texans made the right choice in picking him up. He was a 17th overall selection in the 2003 NFL draft, the talent is not the issue but bringing it out seems to be, and it is up to coach Gary Kubiak to make him a weapon.
5. It looks like the Texans have some real depth issues at the outside linebacker position behind Brooks Reed. Jesse Nading started with Reed against the Vikings, and Nading was in position to make plays all night but Christian Ponder was out running him to the boundary all night and picking up first downs. Nading is a smart player, but he looks to slow to play the OLB position at a high level. Braman is a project for the Texans, and I seem to think that the Texans might have to go look on the waiver wire for a potential 3-4 OLB to provide depth to the team.
6. The Texans have a tough choice on what they might do at the running back position. Steve Slaton did not help his future with the team by not suiting up for Thursday night and Chris Ogbonnaya continued to state his case to make the team. Ogbonnaya had a good night running behind a lackluster performance from the Texans offensive line. With 14 rushes for 62 yards, Ogbonnaya had another solid preseason performance, and he would have easily had over 100 yards rushing if not for two holding penalties that called two of his big runs back. Not only can he run the ball, but he can contribute on special teams coverage when needed which makes him an interesting decision for the team.
Early rumors around the league have the Texans releasing Slaton on Friday, but for a guy that was looking good in camp and showed before he can be a 1,000 yard back, he will definitely be on another team's roster if released.
7. One of my favorites on the team, Dominique Barber returned to his home state of Minnesota and had a big night. He was running down on special teams making tackles and when he came on defense he was sticking his nose into the ball carrier and make sure tackles. Unofficially he had six tackles, but it honestly seemed like he was on more. Barber's true value lies in the fact he is the leader of the special teams and he proves it with his hard work mentality. Not one of the most physically gifted payers on the Texans, Barber makes the Texans a better team with his attitude and determination.
8. Quintin Demps had a chance for a big night, but he let a sure pick six go right through his hands. Demps is an interesting player, he provides good depth at the safety position, but the real questions lies on how many safeties will the Texans keep. If they keep five he will make the team, but if not it will come to him and Barber for the final position in the safety depth chart. Demps also can return kicks which he provides value for the Texans.
9. Has anyone noticed the Lawrence Vickers seems to be fighting for a job with the Texans? I will put money out there to say that James Casey will be the starting fullback on opening day. Vickers has not been running much with the first team and continues to be a special teams player. The Texans signed him to a two-year deal with a $500k signing bonus, and I am starting to think why keep two fullbacks when the Texans will keep three tight ends in Owen Daniels, Joel Dreessen and Garrett Graham. Casey won't play tight end this year because of his new role, so why not use Vickers spot on another position of need? Just a thought, but it seems interesting to me.
10. I am glad the preseason is over and the regular season is around the corner, the Texans are in a prime spot to take control of the AFC South for the first time in team history. The true test is if the Texans can handle success, and the buzz is starting around the NFL about what is happening in Houston. Let's hope the Texans stay healthy and make a push to playoffs, because the city of Houston needs a winning team.