The Texans make the trip to Dallas today to face the Cowboys in game No. 3 of the preseason on Saturday at 6 p.m. CT. Staying healthy is the first, second and third priority, but there will be a few players worth watching, all three possibly making their preseason debut.
The first is running back/offensive weapon Duke Johnson Jr. The Texans consummated the trade for Johnson the day after the first preseason game and he practiced with the team for the first time this week. He’s as multi-dimensional as a running back can be and it’s going to be fascinating to see how the Texans utilize him this year. That said, I don’t expect him to play for long in this matchup. Regardless, it’ll be intriguing to see a guy with his juice on this field with this offense.
Next up is veteran center Nick Martin, who, like Johnson, made it back from PUP this week to practice with the squad for the first time in 2019. He’s the mainstay in the middle and the brains of the operation. Similar to Johnson, I’d imagine his workload is going to be minimal, yet important, given that he hasn’t really swapped paint, if you will, in a competitive fashion since the end of the 2018 season.
Last and certainly not least is defensive lineman Carlos Watkins. The third-year defender from Clemson started camp well and then got a bit dinged up in Green Bay in the joint practices with the Packers. He rejoined practice this week, alongside his longtime teammate D.J. Reader, who also returned, to prepare for the Cowboys on Saturday night. Watkins may play a little longer than Johnson and Martin in this one, as he can get a bunch of reps in different situations - in base defense, in sub package potential run looks and in sub package pass heavy opportunities.
Obviously, there are players fighting for their playing lives on Saturday night and five days later vs. the Rams in Week 4. That makes this one ultra-important for many Texans on this roster, in addition to being a measuring stick for the three names above after missing some training camp time. REMINDER - kickoff is at 6 p.m., don’t miss it.