Now that the 2022 preseason is a wrap, the Houston Texans will trim their roster to 53 on Tuesday. After a month of watching camp practices and three preseason games, here are five things we learned about the 2022 Texans:
1. Dameon Pierce is must-see TV
RB Dameon Pierce burst onto the scene, literally, with his flashy runs in two preseason performances. Pierce, with an equally exuberant personality, rushed for 29 yards on just five carries in the preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints. That performance was enough for Head Coach Lovie Smith to sit the rookie for Week 2. When Pierce returned in the third preseason game, he bulldozed defenders on the opening series with gains for nine, 12, seven and five yards (including two first downs) before scoring on a one-yard touchdown run. Without declaring Pierce the Week 1 starter, Smith did say this about the fourth-round draft pick out of Florida:
"I don't have a mask on how I feel about things. Dameon Pierce has played good ball pretty much since he got in the facility. He's a good football player, right amount of power. He'll make you miss in the open field. He can catch the ball. He can do a lot of things that NFL running backs do."
2. Rookie impact will be immediate
The Texans 2022 draft class could be starting games sooner rather than later. Under GM Nick Caserio, Houston selected five players in the top 75 slots. Except for WR John Metchie III who unfortunately will not play this season due to APL (Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia), several rookies are starters in the making. Smith named DB Jalen Pitre, a second-round pick (37th overall) out of Baylor, a starter and implied that more could follow.
"A lot of rookies are hungry and our rookies really are," Smith said. "Just don't think we're going to be limited with what we do with them."
3. Takeaways are still king
Seven takeaways in the preseason. While it's not regular season action, the emphasis on takeaways hasn't waned. It's changed. The Texans aren't just focused on getting takeaways anymore. The goal now is to take the ball away AND score.
4. D-line rolls deep
In training camp and preseason, the Texans defensive line group showed its depth with returning players like Maliek Collins, Jonathan Greenard, Roy Lopez, new veterans (Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, Ogbo Okoronkwo, Rasheem Green) signed in free agency, draft pick Thomas Booker and international player Adedayo Odeleye to name just a few.
The 49ers-Texans game featured more playing time for Houston’s starters, including the first preseason game reps for Collins, Hughes and Addison. For regular season games, the Texans will dress "at least eight defensive linemen," according to Smith and, if the final preseason performance was an indication (5.0 sacks, four QB hits, four TFLs), expect plenty of production from the group under DL Coach Jacques Cesaire.
5. Passing game preview delayed until Week 1
Davis Mills impressed in camp, driving the offense downfield, tossing darts in team drills. However, the Texans concealed most of that firepower in their back pocket during the preseason. Without No. 1 receiver Brandin Cooks and left tackle Laremy Tunsil on the offensive line, the Texans offense was a shell of itself in the preseason. Smith says stay tuned for the rest in Week 1, including that Mill-Cooks connection.
"Before we display it in front of everyone, I'd say it's good," Smith said. "The excitement that I have about where we are offensively is that we made the decision to not play Brandin (Cooks), not to play LT (Laremy Tunsil), not to play Justin (Britt), Pharaoh Brown and some of our offensive guys. The chemistry that I've seen throughout has been really good. They like playing together and that's going to lead to positive results."
The Texans will open their 2022 regular season against the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 11. Kickoff from NRG Stadium is set for noon CT on CBS and SportsRadio 610.
Browse tickets for Texans-Colts season kickoff on September 11 at 12:00 PM.