*Here are Five Things to Watch when the Texans open the preseason Saturday night at Arizona.
We have games to watch and evaluate. Two long, hot weeks of watching practices at Texans training camp are behind us, and we get to see what the squad looks like when they're facing somebody else.
First things first: as long as he suits up, you could put first rounder
Clowney's probably playing against the Cardinals, and might even start. So definitely keep an eye on what Number 90 does in Arizona. Here's what else you should check out.
1. New face on sidelines
It's Bill O'Brien's first game as an NFL head coach. He was the man in charge for a pair of seasons in Happy Valley at Penn State, and is no stranger to the professional
But now he's the boss. At the highest level. And he was very realistic on Thursday when asked whether or not he might be a little nervous.
"You always have the so called butterflies," O'Brien said. "To me, it’s good. It’s good to have that. You’re excited about the opportunity. You’re excited about the game."
O'Brien will likely be fiery at times. But if you've paid attention and watched the pair of mic'd up videos we posted over the last few months on HoustonTexans.com, you'll also notice him getting excited about good deeds done by his players.
2. Young wide receivers
But there's a group of pass catchers behind those five who are vying for a spot on the active roster, and one, two or three might supplant some names above.
2014 undrafted rookies
Each of the six from that second group has turned in a great play or two or more throughout camp so far. How they handle the competition against Arizona will be fascinating.
3. Return game
Some of the names in section number two factor heavily in the return game competition. Martin is the incumbent, and handled the bulk of kickoff and punt returns for the past two
But Thomas has shown a willingness to mix it up on punt returns, and spoke about how much he loved the "hecticness" of taking back a punt.
Adams came into camp and was immediately a fresh looking returner on kickoffs. He was outstanding in the return game for the Arkansas Razorbacks, and will likely get a chance to earn a spot.
4. Savage debut
His reps have been limited throughout camp, but he'll get a chance to show how much of the playbook he's mastered, and how well he's transitioned to the pro game.
"He’s got to calm the butterflies and do what he has been taught to do to this point and go out there and play football," O'Brien said. "Get us into the right play, make good decisions, throw the ball accurately, get us in and out of the run scheme like the way we’ve been doing."
Savage was a fourth round selection in the draft, and despite the new playbook, he said he's confident.
“As a competitor, I think any quarterback wants to say they can play a game and that’s how I’m always going to be," Savage said. "I can’t put a percentage on it; I’m just trying to learn it and put in all the work I can.”
5. Kicker competition
But he's had a challenger in
How much each one kicks off, how many attempts they'll get on extra point tries and field goals will be a key.
O'Brien said both have kicked well, too.
"The competition has helped Randy," O'Brien said. "I think he kicked pretty well the other day. Boz, I thought he hit it pretty good today. There’s not live rush yet, so you know, they’re basically kicking on air."