The Texans (1-0) head to Los Angeles for a preseason matchup with the reigning Super Bowl Champion Rams (1-0). Houston won it's opener at home last Saturday versus the Saints, while the Rams beat the Chargers. Here are five things to watch when two clubs kick off at 9 p.m. CT inside SoFi Stadium.
1. More of Mills
Quarterback Davis Mills was on the field for a pair of drives to open the game against the Saints last Saturday night. Head Coach Lovie Smith anticipates Mills getting a bit more playing time, and described how the first go-round went.
"We wanted to give him limited work, just getting him out there on the football field was what we were looking for," Smith said. "Three of his offense linemen weren't playing, so it's a start. We didn't have a lot of production with our one offense when we were out there. But again, what we wanted to get accomplished with him, he's healthy going into game two."
For Mills, it's very simple what he wants to do against the Rams.
"Go out and play my best," Mills said. "I think anytime I step out on the field, I want to put my best foot forward and perform to my highest capabilities. That's the goal each and every week. I think I'll be getting a little more playing time than I did this week, so I'll be ready to go out there and execute and do my job."
2. Stay rugged
Rookie Running Back Dameon Pierce impressed in his debut last week, popping off a 20-yard run on his first carry, and finishing with five altogether for 49 yards. In pass-protection, he pile-drove a blitzing linebacker, and even made a tackle on an interception return to prevent a score. His toughness was a welcome sight for Smith.
"He can run with power," Smith said. "He can make you miss. He can cut on a dime. Catch the ball. There are some things that he can do well that you'd expect a good running back in the NFL to do."
The Texans picked up 99 yards on 24 carries, and want to continue to be able get yards on the ground. With Rex Burkhead, Marlon Mack, Dare Ogunbowale, Royce Freeman and B.J. Emmons also in the mix at the running back position, Smith explained how the team will determine who eventually starts.
"I think you let guys play," Smith said. "They kind of tell you who should start, who should be on the roster, how many plays they should get. They all have a certain strength, and we'll let it play out."
Getting physical as an offense was very important to Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton.
"The plan was for us to come out and really try and establish just the physicality, the physical nature and how we want to approach the game," Hamilton said. "We feel like, for the most part, our guys came out they played hard for four quarters."
3. Young pass-catcher progress
Last week, wide receivers Jalen Camp and Johnny Johnson, III each caught a touchdown, and each came down with important receptions on the game-winning drive in the final moments against New Orleans.
Nico Collins is entering his second season as a Texans receiver, as is Tight End Brevin Jordan. Wide Receiver Connor Weddington was a team captain at Stanford with Mills and Defensive Lineman Thomas Booker.
How many reps and receptions those pass-catchers get will be fascinating to see versus Los Angeles.
4. Front-7 spreading the 'love'
The Texans defensive line was active on Saturday night, and needs to continue to do that for the defense as a whole to flourish. Four different players logged a sack against the Saints, with Derek Rivers dropping the quarterback a pair of times. Six different Texans registered a tackle for loss. Getting pressure on the quarterback is a big deal, and Smith wants that pressure coming from a variety of spots.
"On the defensive line, we need a lot of guys," Smith said. "We need about 10 that we feel comfortable with this time right now, 10 or 11. The more the better."
Defensive Back Derek Stingley, Jr. might suit up in a game Saturday night. He might not, as was the case last Saturday, but the third overall pick in this year's NFL Draft will have a lot of eyeballs on him him whenever he does hit the field.
"He's played with a lot of confidence," Wide Receiver Chris Conley said. "He's very, very athletically gifted, but he's also inquisitive. He asks a lot of questions, and you can tell when he gets an answer and he picks something up, he's on it. So he's been playing extremely well. Going up against him every day, he's going to be something special."