Funny things, these NFL preseason affairs.
When you win, you feel good but you keep reminding yourself not to feel too good because, well, the result doesn't count in the standings.
And if you lose -- say by 31 points to the Bucs last night to cap a winless preseason -- you also have to remind yourself these games don't count. But you're not exactly skipping through the halls of Reliant Stadium.
The dress rehearsals are over as the Texans now turn their attention to their regular season opener at Miami in nine days. On Kickoff Sunday, every team is 0-0. Every team has a fresh slate.
But, then again, the Texans can't completely dismiss a preseason in which they were outscored 107-38. There is plenty of work to be done by Dom Capers and his staff in the coming days. First, the Texans must trim their roster to 53. Then they must scan the waiver wire to see if any players that can help them are available. And finally, they have to keep the players' confidence level up leading up to a difficult opener.
"Obviously, my attitude wasn't the greatest when I went into the locker room at halftime last night," Capers said Friday. "I just felt, as a team, we have pride and certain standards we want to play up to and we did not do that last night.
"But I think we have enough veteran leadership on this team that we'll come back here Monday and go to work with total focus on getting ready to do down to Miami and play our best football game."
The 34-3 loss to Tampa Bay underscored the Texans' most obvious problem as a second-year club. Houston simply doesn't have the depth of its 31 counterparts. Thus, injuries could prove more devastating to the Texans and Capers knows that.
"Depth and the ability to stay healthy are my two biggest concerns," Capers said. "I just believe we're a team that will be able to be competitive but, like most teams in this league, if you start to lose some of your better players to injury, your team changes tremendously.
"I think it's even more so for us being a second-year team."
Houston did play well in stretches, particularly against Denver and San Diego. On offense, the Texans appear to have found a one-two punch of power and speed in running backs Stacey Mack and Tony Hollings. Wide receiver Andre Johnson will demand serious attention from opposing corners, which should open things up even more for Corey Bradford and Jabar Gaffney.
The Texans' blocking is improved but the Bucs showed it still needs work. Houston is hopeful center Steve McKinney's knee will be ready next week.
On defense, the Texans should be solid again, but they don't have a ton of depth on that side of the ball. Houston was fortunate last season in that the starting defensive unit missed just one game (strong safety Eric Brown) due to injury.
Defensive end Gary Walker (shoulder) will not practice Monday. His presence is missed in the trenches. The Texans ranked 28th against the run last season and the league's leading rusher (Ricky Williams) greets them in Miami.
If the Texans do feel like they need some more help, their short history dictates they're not shy about seeking it. Once Houston trims its roster, more moves might be in the immediate offing.
Last year, the Texans claimed cornerback Jason Bell off waivers from Dallas six days before Bell downed a punt against the Cowboys that helped Houston win its opener. Later that month, the Texans claimed fullback Moran Norris off waivers from New Orleans and plucked guard Milford Brown in the supplemental draft. Both are now starting.
The point? The Texans might be the most aggressive team in scouting players throughout the season. Capers considers it a necessity.
"Having been through this before (with Carolina), you know that the bottom part of your roster is going to be fluid," Capers said. "You have to constantly search for ways to upgrade that part of your roster. And we'll certainly do that."
And once the players return Monday, all the focus will be on the Dolphins, who have won 11 consecutive regular season openers, seven of those at home. Expect Houston to be a heavy underdog. Also expect a rejuvenated bunch of Texans. After all, this is what you play for.
do like the attitude of our guys," Capers said. "I think
if a team is willing to work hard and they have a good attitude,
they'll improve. That is what we are looking for from this football