TAMPA, Fla. -The Texans closed out their preseason with an encouraging 27-20 victory at Tampa Bay on Friday night. There were several bright spots in the game, including the play of Rex Grossman and Jacoby Jones.
Tough cuts ahead:Less than 24 hours before he'll trim his roster down to 53 players, head coach Gary Kubiak listed defensive line, running back and the secondary as position groups that will be "extremely tough" to cut down.
"I honestly cannot sit here and say that I have an answer until I really look at the film and get everybody's opinion on it," Kubiak said of those positions. "We will do that on the way home and early in the morning."
Jones breaks loose:Wide receiver Jacoby Jones rekindled some of his 2007 preseason magic with a Texans preseason record 148 receiving yards on just three catches: an 87-yard touchdown, a 40-yard catch and a 21-yard catch. His 148 receiving yards were the most in a game in the NFL this preseason.
Jones was a preseason star as a rookie in 2007, tying for the league lead with four touchdowns. After struggling at times to hold on to the ball in 2008, Jones didn't fumble this preseason at receiver or punt returner. His big plays on Friday were icing on the cake.
"He played very well," Kubiak said after the game. "Obviously, he's capable of making plays. I think he's had a good preseason and I think he's ready to go."
Casey gets in the end zone:Rookie tight end James Casey scored his first preseason touchdown on an 11-yard pass from Grossman in the second quarter. He jumped offsides on the previous snap when the Texans were planning to run on third-and-two from the six.
"I felt terrible about that, but it ended up working out because then we ran a pass play," Casey said. "It was a double move play and the safety bit on it, I was open and Rex threw a great pass and the offensive line did a great job blocking. It couldn't have been any better to get that first touchdown. Even though it was the preseason, it always feels good to be in the end zone."
Casey, who started at fullback and played at long snapper as well, finished the game with three catches for 22 yards.
"He played three different positions tonight and he didn't miss a beat, so it was very encouraging for us," Kubiak said.
Big game for Busing:Safety John Busing accounted for two of the Texans' four takeaways against the Bucs. He intercepted quarterback Josh Johnson on the first play of the third quarter when he jumped tight end Jason Pociask's route, and Busing's 27-yard return set up a Texans touchdown. He also recovered a fumble off a muffed punt in the third quarter in Tampa Bay territory.
Busing tied for the team lead with six tackles and had a pass defensed along with one special teams tackle.
"He's kind of made plays throughout camp, and he's done some good things for Joe (Marciano)," Kubiak said. "Obviously, he helped himself again tonight."
Busing has been lining up as the second-string free safety behind Eugene Wilson and ahead of Brandon Harrison. He spent the 2006-08 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, playing in 23 games mainly in special teams duty.
Backup QB battle?:After Grossman's big game, not much was certain about the Texans' backup quarterback situation. First, it's unclear whether Grossman will make the team – "I don't know" was Kubiak's response to that question.
Second, it's unclear whether or not Grossman would have a chance to battle Dan Orlovsky for the No. 2 job if Grossman were to make the team. Orlovsky played the Texans' first three series and finished 5-of-7 for 51 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. His passer rating was 52.4.
"I'll go back and look," Kubiak said when asked if there is any question that Orlovsky is still the backup quarterback. "I thought Dan did some good stuff tonight. I'm going to evaluate him and Rex and make a decision from there. I felt like it was very competitive going into camp, it's just that Rex missed a great deal of time."
Leaving it on the field:Running back Ryan Moats got the start because Steve Slaton and Chris Brown were watching from the sideline, but Arian Foster got the bulk of the Texans' carries. Foster had 16 attempts for 49 yards (3.1 avg.), while running back Andre Hall had nine carries for 33 yards (3.8 avg.) and a one-yard touchdown.
"With the two running backs, I think I got to see them enough," Kubiak said. "I've got to make a tough decision there (on Saturday)."
Foster is an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee who might have been a second-round draft pick if he had left college after his junior season. He had a 37-yard carry in the second quarter on Friday that was nullified by a holding penalty on Chester Pitts.
"I put my heart out on the field, and chips are going to fall where they may," Foster said. "Whatever happens, happens. I felt like I gave it everything I could."
Preseason makes perfect:Kicker Kris Brown made 19- and 45-yard field goals to finish the preseason six-for-six. His streak of consecutive preseason field goals made now stands at 17, dating back to 2007. He has made 25 of his last 26 field goals in preseason play.
Starting last:Eleven players made their first starts of the 2009 preseason in the preseason finale: wide receiver David Anderson, defensive end Connor Barwin, linebacker Kevin Bentley, defensive end Tim Bulman, tackle Rashad Butler, Casey, linebacker Buster Davis, Jones, Moats, Orlovsky and tackle Adam Stenavich.