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2007 preseason schedule announced

The Texans' preseason schedule was announced Monday. While the times and exact dates have yet to be determined for the 2007 preseason schedule, the Texans do know they will face the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys at home and the Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road this year in exhibition contests.

"Two of those four we play every year, it seems like," Texans offensive lineman Steve McKinney said after hearing the news. "Between Dallas and Tampa, we play them almost every preseason and for some reason we always finish up with Tampa, either here or there.

"I guess that makes it nice because you don't do a lot of preparation for preseason games, leading up to them as far as game planning and what not. So it's nice to play teams that you're at least a little familiar with. It makes going out in the preseason a little better as a player because you know a little more what to expect."

Houston finished 3-1 last preseason during head coach Gary Kubiak's first preseason slate. It marked the first time the Texans finished the preseason with a winning record in franchise history. They'll be looking to build on that success in 2007.

The Bears will roll into Reliant Stadium between Aug. 9-13. Chicago's "Tampa 2" defense should be a nice test to start the schedule for the Texans and for new quarterback Matt Schaub. The defending NFC Champion Bears had one of the elite defenses in football in 2006, and this season should be no different.

"Any time you can play a good team in the preseason, it shows two things: It shows how far along you are in your process that season, and it shows how much depth you have because your second and third team will have a lot of chance to play and go against their second and third team," McKinney said. "So it's a comparison of who has the most depth."

While each team's starters won't see too much playing time in the first exhibition game, Chicago's defense is very similar to division rival Indianapolis, so the Bears can serve as a minor litmus test for a Texans' offense that likely will feature at least four new starters on offense.

The following weekend Houston travels to Glendale, Ariz. for their first game ever at the University of Phoenix Stadium. The Texans will take on the Arizona Cardinals between August 16-20.

"It's all business, but at the same time, it's nice when you get to go to a new stadium because they have some nice locker rooms," McKinney said. "A lot of times you go into some preseason games, or even some regular season games, where the locker rooms just aren't quite up to speed with what we're used to here at Reliant Stadium."

Ken Whisenhunt's Arizona Cardinals should feature a revamped offense and a solid test for a Texans' defense looking to build on a strong finish to the 2006 campaign.

Houston's last home preseason tilt comes against the Dallas Cowboys, falling between August 23-27. A popular preseason opponent due to the rivalry, these two teams know each other well and this matchup will serve as a homecoming of sorts for Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips.

Phillips, son of former Oilers coach Bum Phillips, and a University of Houston graduate, likely will have plenty of friends and family in attendance at Reliant Stadium. With the game scheduled as the third exhibition game for both teams, it should be the most hotly contested this preseason. The third game of the preseason routinely features the most action for first-string players.

Houston will head to Tampa Bay between Aug. 30-Sept. 1 for its last preseason game. Tampa also fields a scheme similar to the Colts. However, Houston likely won't be showing much of their offense in the game.

Typically, the last preseason game is used to trim the roster, and considering that the Texans and Buccaneers will meet at Reliant Stadium sometime during the regular season, neither team will be looking to show too much of their offensive or defensive repertoire.

"Usually when you're playing a team in the preseason that you are going to play in the regular season, you either end up going in real vanilla and not showing them a lot of stuff or you show them a lot of stuff that you are not going to use against them (later on)," McKinney said. "There are several philosophies.

"I don't know which one we're going to use. But either way, I know they'll be throwing a lot of different looks at us. They have a pretty intense scheme that they run on defense. They do a lot of blitzing and show you a lot of different looks, so it'll be a challenge for us."

The NFL regular season schedule will be released later this month.

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