Almost every single year, watching the final preseason games tends to feel like a chore. None of the starters are playing and except for a few bubble players, there really isn’t much of a story. For the Houston Texans, other than playing the Dallas Cowboys, things are no different in their preseason finale.
I’ve always declared this game the “Jiffy Lube Bowl” because most of the players that see the field tonight will have their dream of playing in the NFL crushed and have to face the reality that they will be changing motor oil as a career choice within a couple weeks.
The local story for this game is that both T.J. Yates and Case Keenum will get equal playing time to stake their claim to the rights as the official backup quarterback to Matt Schaub. Head coach Gary Kubiak has said both guys will get an entire half to play and make their last impressions.
I’m still of the mind that a conservative coach like Kubiak is going to stick with Yates, regardless of what happens tonight. He’s always going to choose that guy with game experience, and Yates, having won a playoff game in the NFL, puts him as almost the imminent choice. But I do still believe that Houston carries three quarterbacks this year, and it should be fun to watch them try to one up each other.
There has been a lot of debate and discussion between fans about what should happen at the linebacker position. Will they carry nine or ten? Has Willie Jefferson earned a roster spot? Is Tim Dobbins‘ spot on the roster safe? Can the team really make the decision to cut a fourth round pick in the most recent draft? All of these things should be answered tonight.
For a guy like Roc Carmichael, this is the Super Bowl. If he wants to get the opportunity to stick around on the final 53 again, he has to show something. After getting off to a bad start in the opener, we haven’t heard his name called much. This can be both good and bad, but with rookie A.J. Bouye breathing down his neck, Carmichael has to show up big tonight.
The third running back job could be put to bed with a strong performance by Deji Karim. If he has a good night returning kicks, he might not even have to do anything rushing the ball to make the final 53-man roster. I think we’ll see more Cierre Wood than we have up to this point, but I believe they aren’t showcasing him much because they want to stash him on the practice squad. Dennis Johnson blew his opportunity to make the team the moment he fumbled the ball. When he did it a second time, he was dead man walking.
On the front line, Chris Jones needs to show coaches something to keep him as even a practice squad nominee. He has shown little in camp and the preseason and isn’t going to make the club simply because he was drafted. It should come down to him and the veteran Daniel Muir for that final spot on the defensive line.
It’s hard to imagine the team cutting a player they just traded for in Nate Menkin, but I’m having a hard time seeing who he replaces on the line unless there is an injury or an IR stash we don’t expect. David Quessenberry is a lock and Brennan Williams might have to be brought along faster than we wanted or expected. The bench is pretty full here, so he might want to catch the eye of Kubiak this evening.
In the end, if you love football and you live and die with your team, you’ll even watch the final preseason game. I’ll probably DVR it and check out the opening of the college football season, myself.