First Glance: Texans at Saints

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The third preseason game is Sunday, and the Texans take their first road trip of the 2015 campaign. The Saints await them in New Orleans for a 3 p.m. CT kickoff, and this is the final bit of action the starters will see before Week 1 against the Chiefs.
Brian Hoyer will start at quarterback, and there's a very good chance you won't see defensive linemen J.J. Watt and Vince Wilfork, as well as corner Johnathan Joseph. 
None of those three have played a preseason game yet, and that won't likely change on Sunday.
With that in mind, here are five things I'll keep my eyes on this weekend.

1. Sustained Drives: The Texans offense sputtered a bit last week in the loss to Denver. Hoyer and Ryan Mallett combined to lead six drives in the first half versus the Broncos, and every one of them ended in a Shane Lechler punt. None of those drives went longer than 32 yards, and the farthest they got was to the Denver 47-yard line.
Each signal caller drove the Texans offense the length of the field in the opener against the 49ers.
A few touchdown drives would be encouraging signs on Sunday. Coordinator George Godsey specifically hopes to accomplish a few things offensive line-wise against New Orleans.
"I want to see execution up front," Godsey said. "I think from a line standpoint, we want to come out and make sure assignment's sound."  
2. Pressure the passer: Whether it's Drew Brees, Luke McCown, Garrett Grayson or Ryan Griffin under center for the Saints, the Texans pass rush will be something to watch.
How well will outside linebackers like Whitney Mercilus and John Simon at the top of the depth chart, on down to the undrafted free agents like Lynden Trail and Carlos Thompson, get after the passer?
Through the first two games, the Texans have sacked the quarterback four times. Kourtnei Brown picked off a pass last week and returned it for a touchdown, and also has a pair of sacks this preseason. He's fighting for a roster spot, and another strong showing in a preseason game could go a long way to whether or not he makes the squad.
"There's a guy that's gone out and taken advantage of the preseason games," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "He makes an interception for a touchdown, he's had a couple tackles for loss, sacks in the San Francisco game. The guy has really improved in his time here, so he's made a name for himself."
3. Safeties not named Rahim Moore: The safety position next to Moore is a highly competitive spot. Eddie Pleasant and Andre Hal have each seen reps with the first unit on defense. Stevie Brown, Quintin Demps and Lonnie Ballentine have also been in the mix too.
"That's a competition," O'Brien said. "I think that Dre Hal has done a good job in training camp. Eddie Pleasant has played well at that position."
Demps joined the team on August 17, and jumped right into the mix in practice, picking off a pass his first day back. He also made three tackles and broke up two passes in the game against Denver. 
4. Return game: Through the first two games, Chandler Worthy, Alan Bonner and Keith Mumphery have each returned kickoffs and punts. On kickoffs, the trio is averaging 20 yards a return, and none has taken a kick back longer than 30 yards.
They've been better on punt returns, as each of the trio has taken a punt for 13 yards or more. Combined, they're averaging 9.6 yards per return. Those three are also part of a competitive group at wide receiver, and making plays in the return game could give one an extra push come roster cut time.
5. Evaluation station: This week's game is key for O'Brien, the coaches and the team's personnel department in terms of deciding on who will stick around and who will be let go.
"We want to make sure we get guys in there that we really need to look at and give them quality time in the game," O'Brien said. "I don't see this as being totally different than the other two games. I know the general concept out there is the third preseason game is like a regular season game."
The roster gets trimmed from 90 to 75 on Tuesday, and from 75 to 53 on Saturday, September 5. This will be the last preseason game of 2015 as a Texan, and perhaps the final game as a professional, for 15 players.The third preseason game is Sunday, and the Texans take their first road trip of the 2015 campaign. The Saints await them in New Orleans for a 3 p.m. CT kickoff, and this is the final bit of action the starters will see before Week 1 against the Chiefs.
Brian Hoyer will start at quarterback, and there's a very good chance you won't see defensive linemen J.J. Watt and Vince Wilfork, as well as corner Johnathan Joseph. 
None of those three have played a preseason game yet, and that won't likely change on Sunday.
With that in mind, here are five things I'll keep my eyes on this weekend.

1. Sustained Drives: The Texans offense sputtered a bit last week in the loss to Denver. Hoyer and Ryan Mallett combined to lead six drives in the first half versus the Broncos, and every one of them ended in a Shane Lechler punt. None of those drives went longer than 32 yards, and the farthest they got was to the Denver 47-yard line.
Each signal caller drove the Texans offense the length of the field in the opener against the 49ers.
A few touchdown drives would be encouraging signs on Sunday. Coordinator George Godsey specifically hopes to accomplish a few things offensive line-wise against New Orleans.
"I want to see execution up front," Godsey said. "I think from a line standpoint, we want to come out and make sure assignment's sound."  
2. Pressure the passer: Whether it's Drew Brees, Luke McCown, Garrett Grayson or Ryan Griffin under center for the Saints, the Texans pass rush will be something to watch.
How well will outside linebackers like Whitney Mercilus and John Simon at the top of the depth chart, on down to the undrafted free agents like Lynden Trail and Carlos Thompson, get after the passer?
Through the first two games, the Texans have sacked the quarterback four times. Kourtnei Brown picked off a pass last week and returned it for a touchdown, and also has a pair of sacks this preseason. He's fighting for a roster spot, and another strong showing in a preseason game could go a long way to whether or not he makes the squad.
"There's a guy that's gone out and taken advantage of the preseason games," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "He makes an interception for a touchdown, he's had a couple tackles for loss, sacks in the San Francisco game. The guy has really improved in his time here, so he's made a name for himself."
3. Safeties not named Rahim Moore: The safety position next to Moore is a highly competitive spot. Eddie Pleasant and Andre Hal have each seen reps with the first unit on defense. Stevie Brown, Quintin Demps and Lonnie Ballentine have also been in the mix too.
"That's a competition," O'Brien said. "I think that Dre Hal has done a good job in training camp. Eddie Pleasant has played well at that position."
Demps joined the team on August 17, and jumped right into the mix in practice, picking off a pass his first day back. He also made three tackles and broke up two passes in the game against Denver. 
4. Return game: Through the first two games, Chandler Worthy, Alan Bonner and Keith Mumphery have each returned kickoffs and punts. On kickoffs, the trio is averaging 20 yards a return, and none has taken a kick back longer than 30 yards.
They've been better on punt returns, as each of the trio has taken a punt for 13 yards or more. Combined, they're averaging 9.6 yards per return. Those three are also part of a competitive group at wide receiver, and making plays in the return game could give one an extra push come roster cut time.
5. Evaluation station: This week's game is key for O'Brien, the coaches and the team's personnel department in terms of deciding on who will stick around and who will be let go.
"We want to make sure we get guys in there that we really need to look at and give them quality time in the game," O'Brien said. "I don't see this as being totally different than the other two games. I know the general concept out there is the third preseason game is like a regular season game."
The roster gets trimmed from 90 to 75 on Tuesday, and from 75 to 53 on Saturday, September 5. This will be the last preseason game of 2015 as a Texan, and perhaps the final game as a professional, for 15 players.



The third preseason game is Sunday, and the Texans take their first road trip of the 2015 campaign. The Saints await them in New Orleans for a 3 p.m. CT kickoff, and this is the final bit of action the starters will see before Week 1 against the Chiefs.

Brian Hoyer will start at quarterback, and there's a very good chance you won't see defensive linemen J.J. Watt and Vince Wilfork, as well as corner Johnathan Joseph. 

None of those three have played a preseason game yet, and that won't likely change on Sunday.

With that in mind, here are five things I'll keep my eyes on this weekend.

1. Sustained Drives: The Texans offense sputtered a bit last week in the loss to Denver. Hoyer and

Ryan Mallett combined to lead six drives in the first half versus the Broncos, and every one of them ended in a Shane Lechler punt. None of those drives went longer than 32 yards, and the farthest they got was to the Denver 47-yard line.

Each signal caller drove the Texans offense the length of the field in the opener against the 49ers.

A few touchdown drives would be encouraging signs on Sunday. Coordinator George Godsey specifically hopes to accomplish a few things offensive line-wise against New Orleans.

"I want to see execution up front," Godsey said. "I think from a line standpoint, we want to come out and make sure assignment's sound."  

2. Pressure the passer: Whether it's Drew Brees, Luke McCown, Garrett Grayson or Ryan Griffin under

center for the Saints, the Texans pass rush will be something to watch.

How well will outside linebackers like Whitney Mercilus and John Simon at the top of the depth chart, on down to the undrafted free agents like Lynden Trail and Carlos Thompson, get after the passer?

Through the first two games, the Texans have sacked the quarterback four times. Kourtnei Brown picked off a pass last week and returned it for a touchdown, and also has a pair of sacks this preseason. He's fighting for a roster spot, and another strong showing in a preseason game could go a long way to whether or not he makes the squad.

"There's a guy that's gone out and taken advantage of the preseason games," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "He makes an interception for a touchdown, he's had a couple tackles for loss, sacks in the San Francisco game. The guy has really improved in his time here, so he's made a name for himself."

3. Safeties not named Rahim Moore: The safety position next to Moore is a highly competitive spot.

Eddie Pleasant and Andre Hal have each seen reps with the first unit on defense. Quintin Demps and Lonnie Ballentine have also been in the mix too.

"That's a competition," O'Brien said. "I think that Dre Hal has done a good job in training camp. Eddie Pleasant has played well at that position."

Demps joined the team on August 17, and jumped right into the mix in practice, picking off a pass his first day back. He also made three tackles and broke up two passes in the game against Denver. 

4. Return game: Through the first two games, Chandler Worthy, Alan Bonner and Keith Mumphery have each returned kickoffs and punts. On kickoffs, the trio is averaging 20 yards a return, and none has taken a kick back longer than 30 yards.

They've been better on punt returns, as each of the trio has taken a punt for 13 yards or more. Combined, they're averaging 9.6 yards per return. Those three are also part of a competitive group at wide receiver, and making plays in the return game could give one an extra push come roster cut time.

5. Evaluation station: This week's game is key for O'Brien, the coaches and the team's personnel department in terms of deciding on who will stick around and who will be let go.

"We want to make sure we get guys in there that we really need to look at and give them quality time in the game," O'Brien said. "I don't see this as being totally different than the other two games. I know the general concept out there is the third preseason game is like a regular season game."

The roster gets trimmed from 90 to 75 on Tuesday, and from 75 to 53 on Saturday, September 5. This will be the last preseason game of 2015 as a Texan, and perhaps the final game as a professional, for 15 players.

The Houston Texans roster in photos. (Updated 8/2/2021)

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