With one preseason game in the books and the second one approaching quickly, we’re almost halfway to the games that count. For Houston Texans fans, the wait has been an arduous one. After the bad taste left in mouths with the dominant way the season started and then ended with a whimper and after a summer of blaming the quarterback for everything, it’s nice to talk about games again.
We’re still a week away from the “dress rehearsal” game against the New Orleans Saints where we’ll get a good look at the starters, but there are several things that we will learn and should watch out for this Saturday against the Miami Dolphins at Reliant Stadium.
The big story, of course, has been the battle for the backup quarterback spot. You know you’re a deep roster when the backup quarterback spot is garnering the most buzz, but it’s to be expected when there is a lot of local support for one of them.
Case Keenum had a goal this offseason of simply making the final 53-man roster in 2013, but has now found himself thrust into a position to claim the no. 2 role behind Matt Schaub. At the moment, I still believe it is T.J. Yates’ job to lose due to experience, but if it is really an open competition, this Saturday is Keenum’s best chance to make an impression.
Head coach Gary Kubiak has already informed the media that Keenum will get in the game immediately after Schaub takes a seat.
There is much more to be on the lookout for this Saturday than just the backup quarterback position though. With the news of Wade Smith‘s surgery, Ben Jones has been thrust into the starting lineup as the left guard. Jones struggled mightily at the position on the other side of the line in 2012, and needs to be improved to hold on to the position over surging rookie David Quessenberry.
The team would rather not throw him into the starting line up so fast, but if he is the best player for the role, they aren’t scared to take the jump.
With the team trading for Nate Menkin, he is still no guarantee to make the team. It’s hard to believe they’d trade for a guy just to cut him and if that’s the case, there is one less roster spot for a guy like A.J. Bouye, Eddie Pleasant or Justin Tuggle. The defensive side of the ball is going to be one scrappy battle, and I expect to see some intensity from undrafted or “bubble” guys trying to make it to the final 53.
The third running back job looked like it was all but locked up a week ago, but after an average performance by Dennis Johnson and Cierre Wood flashing his skills in the preseason opener, this one could come down to the final preseason game. I’d like to see Wood get some snaps with the first team to see how he hits the hole and how his vision looks in this scheme.
It was just one game, but Wood certainly seemed to understand how this offense works better than the rest.
With Ed Reed looking less and less likely that he will be ready to play by the season opener, safety is now a pretty big concern. Shiloh Keo has been taking all the first-team reps and D.J. Swearinger showed in his debut that he’s still a rookie. Outside linebacker is likely now the biggest question mark on the team with Whitney Mercilus still injured and Sam Montgomery just now getting on the field.
There is plenty to watch for this weekend, to be sure. But let us just hope that we’re able to actually see it unlike last week, where local coverage dropped the ball with technical difficulties. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Houston time.
Mike Kerns is a Houston Texans writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” his Facebook page, add him to your network on Google and subscribe to his Texans Luv Ya Steel Blue podcast on iTunes.