Here are five things to watch when the Texans (10-6 last season, 1st AFC South) take on the Minnesota Vikings (3-13, 4th NFC North) in their preseason finale at Reliant Stadium. Kickoff is on Thursday at 6 p.m. CT.
1. QB battle:
Beck, 31, has started seven games in his five-year NFL career. He signed with the Texans in May after two seasons in a similar offense with the Washington Redskins. He is 4-of-6 passing for 46 yards (89.6 rating) this preseason in his one appearance at Carolina.
Keenum, 24, is 3-of-6 for 53 yards (80.5 rating) this preseason. The NCAA’s career passing leader has played in two games but only had a chance to throw three passes in both of them.
The Texans could opt to keep just two quarterbacks and put Keenum on the practice squad. It’s unlikely they will keep Beck on the active roster and Keenum on the practice squad because in-season practice reps are too limited to give a third and fourth quarterback an ample amount of throws.
The Texans’ decision will come down to not only how Beck and Keenum play on Thursday but whether Texans coach Gary Kubiak wants to keep an experienced veteran or a rookie with a potentially bright future.
2. Holliday’s hopes: After returning a kick for a touchdown in the Texans’ first two preseason games,
The Texans have not kept a pure return specialist on the roster since 2007 with Jerome Mathis.
“I’ve been very pleased with what Trindon has done, but he can’t turn the ball over,” Kubiak said on Sunday. “Trindon’s deal, first off, he can help this football team. With the way he’s played this preseason, he should be very proud of his preseason and what he’s done. The question is going to be, when we go and set this roster next week, we’ve got to look at the big picture. Is there a room for just a returner? That question is not going away. He’s definitely doing everything he can to answer that question.”
If the Texans don’t keep Holliday, they have other return options in rookie wide receiver
Holliday may have shown enough already to make the team, but a solid, mistake-free performance on Thursday could go a long way in ensuring him of a roster spot.
3. DB decisions: One of the Texans’ toughest cut areas will be at defensive back, both at the cornerback and safety positions.
The Texans had 11 defensive backs – seven cornerbacks and four safeties – in Week 1 of last season. They currently have 13 on the roster.
At safety, the Texans have four quality players competing behind Manning and
4. 3 or 4 RBs?: Because undrafted rookie
It would be a major shock if
Grimes, the all-time leader in rushing (4,541 yards) and all-purpose yards (7,955) at William & Mary, has 15 carries for 81 yards (5.4 average) and a touchdown this preseason. He also has four catches for 41 yards (10.3 average). The Colonial Athletic Association Special Teams Player of the Year in 2011, he fits the Texans’ zone scheme with his one-cut-and-go running style.
“Both of those guys, Forsett and Grimes, have played well for us, and they’ve both played well on special teams,” Kubiak said on Tuesday. “Grimes has been playing a lot of special teams throughout the course of camp. Forsett did last week and showed up in New Orleans. They’re two good football players, so it’s a nice problem to have.”
The Texans kept four running backs last year, but that was when
5. Norris or not: Fullback
A 12th-year veteran and Houston native, Norris played with the Texans from 2002-05 before stints with the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions. The Texans have always employed a traditional lead-blocking fullback like Norris (6-1, 255) under Kubiak, including Lawrence Vickers in 2011 and Vonta Leach from 2006-10.
“Moran is going to play in this game the whole game,” Kubiak said. “It’s a big game for him because we’re trying to make a decision. Obviously, James is our starter and we’re very pleased with how far James has come as a player. He’s had an excellent preseason. We’re trying to make a decision on Moran, if we think that he can help us. He’s going to get that opportunity Thursday, so we’ll see how he plays. He’s played a lot in this league. It’s been a little bit of a catch-up from what we do, so to speak, so I hope to find out some more on Thursday.”
The Texans kept two fullbacks and three tight ends last year. Those numbers could be one fullback (Casey) and two tight ends (