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Five things to watch: Texans vs. Buccaneers


Defensive end Connor Barwin has shown this preseason a knack for getting after quarterbacks.

Coach Gary Kubiak has some difficult decisions to make before the final roster cutdown Saturday, and he wants to take a long look at as many players as possible Friday in the preseason finale at Raymond James Stadium.

Meanwhile, the Buccaneers will break in a new offensive coordinator Friday after firing Jeff Jagzodinski today.

PT for starters: The final preseason game is typically one in which the starters don't play. That won't be the case Friday night for some Texans' first-teamers. Expect to see a heavy dose of Chester Pitts, Chris Myers and a few other notable faces from the starting unit. Pitts and Myers missed considerable parts of training camp due to injury and haven't had the typical allotment of game reps.

"There are more questions than any since I've been here from that standpoint," coach Gary Kubiak said about his starters' regular season readiness. "We've got some starters on this team that need to play a great deal in this game. It's a little bit different than it's been the last couple of years, so hopefully we can get those questions answered in Tampa."

Inexperienced signal-caller: Rookie quarterback Josh Freeman will start for the Buccaneers, and Friday should prove to be the most game action he's seen as a professional. He completed six-of-16 passes for 50 yards a week ago Thursday against the Dolphins, and currently is running third as Tampa Bay's signal-caller behind starter Byron Leftwich and backup Luke McCown.

Freeman's presence in the game should be a great chance for the Texans' pass rush to continue to flourish.

{QUOTE}Look for Frank Bush's defensive unit to hound the rookie into making some mistakes. Veteran defensive tackle Jeff Zgonina is tied for second in the NFL this preseason with 3.0 sacks, while rookie defensive end Connor Barwin has two sacks this preseason.

Change in Bucs' offense: On Thursday in South Florida, offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski was fired, and the club promoted quarterbacks coach Greg Olson to run the offense. Jagodzinksi was hired on Jan. 29 after being fired by Boston College, where he guided the Eagles to consecutive Big East titles in 2007 and 2008.

"Coach Jags came in and I've got a lot of respect for what he did," Tampa coach Raheem Morris said of Jagodzinski on "But we're at the point now (where) we need to be more precise, we need to be more detailed and we need to have more direction for where we're going to go, and I just didn't have it right now for whatever reason."

Morris said the offensive system won't change now that Olson is in charge, but he thinks it will be more fine-tuned than it had been under Jagodzinksi.

"You're talking about a highly-intelligent, smart human being that's been coaching quarterbacks for a long time," Morris said of Olson. "He's called plays in this league for awhile. He's a very detailed coach, very precise coach and that's where we want to go on offense if we're going to have any success."

Texans quarterbacks: No Matt Schaub means Dan Orlovsky starts and third-stringer Rex Grossman will get his first snaps as a Texan. Kubiak wants to see Orlovsky eliminate the three or four mistakes per game he's made so far in the preseason, and the backup signal-caller stressed consistency as being one of the main things he's striving for.

"I want to get to the point where consistency is the number one thing; that I'm being completely completion driven," Orlovsky said after Wednesday's practice. "Not trying to be Superman and thinking I need to do everything, but just running the offense and getting to that point. I'm not there yet. Am I confident I will get there? Absolutely."

Meanwhile, Grossman will play for the second time as a Texan after injuring his hamstring in the preseason opener at Kansas City.

"I know I need to play in this game and show what I can do out there," Grossman said. "If I was a rookie, this would be pretty tough. But I've got some talented wide receivers in the second group going with me and a good offensive line. I feel comfortable about the game plan. I'm confident going in there that we can makes some plays and win the game."

Avoiding injuries: With the regular season opener approaching on Sunday, Sept.13 against the Jets, the Texans would like to escape Tampa with no serious setbacks healthwise.

Against the Vikings, the Texans lost Schaub, fullback Vonta Leach and safety Eugene Wilson to injury. The week before that against the Saints, offensive tackle Cliff Washburn exited. With so many starters getting significant time on Friday night, the Texans hope to avoid losing anyone in the last bit of game action prior to the start of the 2009 campaign.

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