Texans Players to Watch: San Francisco Edition
Patrick D. Starr
The San Francisco 49ers are coming to Reliant on Saturday and the Houston Texans will get a good test in their second preseason contest. With the starters headed for more work this game (around half of the football game), the Texans will have a real test with one of the NFC favorites to make it to the Super Bowl.
Whispers around camp were pointing out that the Texans are expecting Head Coach Jim Harbaugh to treat this more than a preseason game, especially after last year's embarrassment by the score of 30-7 . The Texans will pull the reigns off the offense, showing a little more than last week, but not opening the complete playbook. Also, expect some questions to be answered on the defensive line with Shaun Cody and J.J. Watt both out for the game.
The veterans will get most of the work with the time for the young players to be very limited. Let's take a look at the players to watch for Saturday's game.
SOTT Players to Watch
Trindon Holliday (#16, Returner/Wide Receiver)
If there is any bigger "hot button" for the Texans fan base, look no further than the speedy returner who opened some eyes against the Carolina Panthers with his impressive 90 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Having 182 total return yards (159 kickoff/23 punt) against Carolina, he will have to do something big again this week. He will also need to prove he can do more than just return kicks and he needs to be included in the wide receiver discussion. With all the question marks surrounding Holliday, he will get his second shot at impressing the coaching staff and making a case to get on the final roster of 53.
Case Keenum (#7, Quarterback)
We know we will see him making his debut at Reliant in front of his hometown crowd, and he will get a good amount of work in the second half. Keenum better make the most of this opportunity because there is a high chance that he will not get another snap until the 4th preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. There is plenty of speculation that Keenum has a shot at the final roster, but he has to prove he belongs on the NFL stage. Head Coach Gary Kubiak is eager to see what Keenum can do and where his real place on this team is, and his learning curve continues this Saturday.
Ra'Shon "Sunny" Harris (#91, Defensive Lineman)
Not seen in the preseason opener due to an injury, Harris has been a pleasant surprise early in camp. Harris has been active and disruptive against the Texans offense in team sessions at practice, and look for the same type of player this weekend. Harris is 6-5 301 lbs. and has played some nose tackle for the defense. Despite his long frame, he is drawing comparisons to a former player for Wade Phillips, Jay Ratliff (Cowboys, NT). Built almost identical, both are asked to be disruptive and fast at the point of attack. Well received from his teammates, Harris is possibly the real sleeper of the Texans roster and has a realistic shot to be suited up for the Texans in week 1.
Hebron Fangupo (#73, Nose Tackle)
"Loni" Fangupo didn't have a chance to showcase what he could do against the Panthers because of the pass mentality in the 4th quarter which forced him to be a pass rusher. He did, in his small amount of time, run down a running back on a screen pass and record a fumble recovery. His best asset is to be a run stuffing plugger eating up offensive lineman, and to cover up the inside linebackers. Fangupo has still an uphill trek to get more playing time, but with his "plus" plays last week and good work in practice he will get some work.
Jared Crick (#93, Defensive End)
Crick has been out for over a week recovering with a neck issue. He returned to the field on Monday and got back to work. He has gotten plenty of work trying to get him back into playing shape and to catch up with time he has missed. Expect an extended look at Crick on Saturday so the defensive staff can get a good look of him on film. Coming out of Nebraska into the draft, he was considered a question mark with his injury issues and, now ready to go, expect Crick to try and prove his doubters wrong.
DeVier Posey (#11, Wide Receiver)
Only targeted one time last week, Posey looks to be behind the curve when it comes to the wide receiver competition. It comes with opportunities and with Andre Johnson returning with some limited snaps, they will be taken away from other receivers. Posey will have to make the most of his time, but seeing him catch just one pass might make him lose the tightness he showed in his first game. The player we see in practice is not the player we saw in his first game with the Texans, and we know he can look better than what he showed. Posey has talent and a strong work ethic
Matt Schaub (#8, Quarterback)
It will be extended time for Schaub on the field and seeing him against a defense as stout as the San Francisco 49ers will be good to see how he will hold up against possibly the top defense in the NFL. We all want to know if he is completely healthy and ready for the 2012 season, but early indications show that he is. This will be the first time in some time that Arian Foster, Johnson and Schaub will be on the field at the same time since week 4 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. With new weapons on offense and some familiar faces, it will be good to see Schaub back at the controls for the Texans' offense.
Brian Cushing (#56, Linebacker)
This one is simple. The leader of the defense is back after coming down with a virus that landed him in the hospital. We are looking forward to seeing him back in action and most of all developing the on-field relationship with fellow linebacker Bradie James.
* Obviously the right side of the offensive line and a second helping of the wide receivers should be on the list, but everyone knows that.