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Gameday Prep: New Orleans Edition

The third preseason game is upon us and the Houston Texans are set for the so called "dress rehearsal" for their starters and key rotational players. With the offensive powerhouse New Orleans Saints coming to town, this will be a good test for a Texans' secondary that struggled all of 2012. 

Drew Brees will test the Texans' defense and the Saints defense has been looking like an underrated group. The Saints come at a good time for the Texans who are looking to give their starters one good tune up and end their preseason early.

New Orleans Prep

Know Your Opponent

Texans to Watch

Top Rookies from the Halfway Point 

What To Watch

- With Antonio Smith ready to serve his suspension, Tim Jamison and Jared Crick will be called upon to get ready for that opening week in San Diego. Jamison has already been named the starter for this Sunday in replacement of Smith. Jamison is a good player and is a really good pass rusher on the interior of the line. He is not going to give the same impact plays that Smith does, but Jamison is good enough to fill the hole for the time being.

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Shiloh Keo has also been named the starter until Ed Reed returns and this should come as no surprise to anyone. Keo is already in his third season and plays to his strengths, but he is not flashy by any means. He makes little mistakes and has not hurt the team in his first two preseason starts. Despite how good rookie D.J. Swearinger has looked, the Texans will not rush the rookie into playing time. Experience is key and that is what Keo gives the Texans at this part of the season.

- Look for who is on special teams and players that are rotated in during the first half of the game. This will give good insight on who the Texans could be thinking of keeping for the 2013 season.

- Keep an eye out for which rookies are being used during the game, especially the undrafted ones like Willie Jefferson, Justin Tuggle, Alec Lemon, Dennis Johnson and A.J. Bouye. All five have legitimate shots on making the team in some form for the upcoming season.

- The first team offense and defense needs to sure up some issues on both sides of the football. For the offense, they need to establish a run game. As for the defense, it has to controll the pass game. It will take time to get both of those facets of the game under control but both are key pieces on what makes the Texans successful as a team.

- Outside linebacker and the pass rush off the edge has been a topic of discussion. Where the Texans will get it from is still a question mark, and with Whitney Mercilus still out the Texans are trying to mix and match players according to down and distance. This is a big opportunity for all four rookie outside linebackers (Jefferson, Montgomery, Williams and Tuggle) to try and take an active roster spot. This has been one of the better camp battles but time is running out for someone to make the move.

- T.J. Yates will be first off the bench for the Texans instead of Case Keenum. This is a big development just because Keenum will get the majority of the work in the 4th preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys. Both quarterbacks have played well this preseason, but Yates holds the slight advantage due to experience. The Texans have been talking about keeping three quarterbacks but there is no guarantee at the moment. Both players have had better than expected preseasons and watch for both to keep pushing each other.

- Unfortunately, this is the last time for 15 players to suit up for the Texans. According to league rules, the roster will have to be trimmed down by Tuesday, August 27th (3 p.m. central). This is where NFL dreams are cut short and the harsh reality of how tough the game can be becomes reality.

You can follow Patrick on Twitter. He is the Editor of State of the Texans.