The Rundown: Texans vs. 49ers
Patrick D. Starr
The second preseason game is in the books and the Houston Texans came out with a win over the San Francisco 49ers, 20-9. As always, there was plenty news and notes from the game and some players making some noise to stay with the Texans into week 1. Game two of the preseason has helped separate some players from others and let fans get a better idea on how the coaches and front office might be thinking with personnel.
After a slow start offensively, Head Coach Gary Kubiak left the offensive starters the entire first half to get them some rhythm, which they responded with a touchdown. The defense from start to finish played fast and relentless and looked ready for the upcoming season.
Trust us we liked what we saw with Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, Johnathan Joseph and Brian Cushing, but everyone has a decent idea on how they are doing. We looked a little deeper than the stars on the field, who will get most of the attention in the third preseason game against the New Orleans Saints.
Here are a few thoughts from the first home preseason game:
- Lestar Jean (pictured above)did not disappoint in his first game at Reliant since last seasons' preseason game against the New York Jets. Jean had 4 catches for 42 yards with a touchdown from quarterback Matt Schaub. Jean was under control and confident playing within the system with the 1st group of the offense. Seeing him, Andre Johnson and Keshawn Martin all on the field at one time could cause some real issues for opposing defenses. The situation does not look too big for him and seeing him provide a big target for Schaub gives a new look to the offense.
- Plenty of hype from the defensive staff about Bradie James was said by linebackers coach Reggie Herring when he was signed during the off-season. James against the 49ers looked slow and provided no real toughness needed for the inside linebacker position. He missed some key tackles and this showed a glaring weakness at an important position for the Texans defense. He may be able to get players lined up and show some leadership, but if he doesn't produce on the field with his performance then there will be some issues heading into the season.
- Second year cornerback Brandon Harris had one of the best games in the secondary, and it started with his coverage. He was underneath and on top of routes, and looks like he is getting acclimated to the NFL game. With his tackling seen in the first preseason game and now add his impressive coverage game against the 49ers, Harris is only making this secondary deeper with talent.
- The first team defense was very impressive especially Connor Barwin, Tim Jamison and Antonio Smith. All three were putting hits on 49ers' quarterback Alex Smith and they were not getting short-changed when they got to him. Jamison had a sack while Barwin and Smith had a 1/2 sack a piece and their relentless pursuit in the first half make the Texans defense that special.
- Safety Shiloh Keo has shown much more confidence as a player and has looked good in the early part of the preseason. Keo played the run very well from the secondary coming downhill, and in the dime package he made a nice play in the backfield. He also showed some good looks in the secondary in coverage and looks to have jumped ahead in the race for the 5th safety position. Throw in his special teams work, Keo is putting himself in great position to make the final roster.
- Guard Antoine Caldwell looks like he has the right guard starting position in hand. Caldwell has looked good in pass pro, but does have his lapses in the run game, especially cutting on the backside of a run play. It looks like him and Rashad Butler could possibly make up the right side of the offensive line opening week 1. Second year tackle Derek Newton has looked middle of the road in both pass protection and in the run game, and it seems like he still has some work to do as a player. Newton shows some good and some bad, but consistency seems the key for Newton As for Butler, he looks good in pass protection but is not as powerful in run blocking, but his ability to keep Schaub upright might be the deciding factor.
- Rookie guard Brandon Brooks seems to be struggling mentally on the field and it has zero to do with his physical ability as a football player. Brooks had inopportune holding calls and issues in pass protection knowing his assignment in a blitz situation. Brooks needs to have a solid two weeks of work heading into the opening of the season to gain some much-needed confidence for the rookie.
- "Sunny" Harris looked good rotating with Earl Mitchell at nose tackle. Harris is a long framed player who actually looked good against the run. He caused some disruptions in the backfield when he got into the flow of the game. Harris might prove to be a vital piece of the Texans defensive line with starter Shaun Cody working to get back to playing form. Harris also looks like he could help at the defensive end position when needed, so his versatility could be a big help.
- Rookie defensive end Jared Crick struggled in his first NFL action and it showed how far he is behind as a player in the defense. Crick took some unnecessary punishment with poor hand work in not keeping the offensive players off of him which led him to getting pushed around. He did make some hustle plays and looks the part, but he does have two games ahead of him to improve as a player.
- Enough cannot be said about James Casey and the effort he has given from multiple positions in the Texans offense. He has lined up as the fullback, tight-end and wide receiver at some point during the two games, and has looked like he can handle the duties. His versatility as an offensive player and special teams player is unmatched by other players on the team. Casey, if given the chance, could be a vital piece of the offense and his effort like the catch on the sideline for the first down is what his game is all about.
- It is hard to see kicker Randy Bullock not making this team, mostly because he was a draft pick. Veteran Shayne Graham has been nothing but consistent during game situations and confident with his kicks. Graham has done everything to impress this camp but it is hard to see the Texans pulling the plug on Bullock.
- Trindon Holliday once again stated a case to make this team coming out of preseason, and he did it this time by returning a punt 87 yards for a touchdown. He even covered a punt late in the 4th quarter, so the Texans are trying to see if he can help in any other spot on the team. This time key blocks by Roc Carmichael, Lestar Jean and Jesse Nading made it a straight line sprint for Holliday to get to the endzone. Honestly, we have no idea if he is in the Texans long-term plans, but he is making himself a fan favorite in the process.
Targets for wide receivers
Matt Schaub (1st half) | (Completion/Targets)
Andre Johnson 2/2
Owen Daniels 1/2 | Dropped Pass
Keshawn Martin 1/2
Arian Foster 3/3
James Casey 1/1
Lestar Jean 3/3 | Touchdown
Kevin Walter 1/2
T.J. Yates (3rd/4th quarter) | (Completion/Targets)
Ben Tate 1/1
Lestar Jean 1/2 | Dropped Pass
James Casey 0/2
Keshawn Martin 1/2 | Pass Interference Call
Jonathan Grimes 1/1
Case Keenum (4th quarter) | (Completions/Targets)
Logan Brock 1/1
DeVeir Posey 0/1
Juaquin Iglesias 0/1