Texans quarterback Matt Schaub's impressive play was one of several intriguing storylines from Saturday's game.
GLENDALE, Ariz. - Injury report:There were several injuries during the Texans-Cardinals game, but the most serious was to Jon Abbate, who hurt his ankle and had to receive x-rays…defensive end N.D. Kalu suffered a hip pointer and is day-to-day...offensive linemen Fred Weary and Chris White both sprained an ankle, but neither injury appears serious and both should see the field this week…fullback Patrick Pass, whom Texans head coach Gary Kubiak had praised for his special teams play during the Chicago preseason game, is day-to-day with a hamstring injury.
Schaub on the job:It was hard to judge quarterback Matt Schaub's first performance as a Texan, as he only played two series and was limited to five pass attempts against the Chicago Bears. In his second game, Schaub saw significantly more playing time, going 9-of-12 for 108 yards and his first-ever NFL rushing touchdown on a five-yard bootleg run in the first quarter. Schaub's throws were crisp and he was decisive in the pocket, moving the Texans on scoring drives of 11 and seven plays.
"He's very much in control of what's going on," Kubiak said. "He kind of lifts the group. That throw he made to O.D. (Texans tight end Owen Daniels, on a third-and-12 play) lifted the whole bench, the whole football team. He's got great presence in what he's doing and runs the football team extremely well. This is his first time out as a starter and I would expect him to just get better and better and better. I'm very pleased with his effort tonight."
What can't Brown do for you?Texans kicker Kris Brown hasn't been just good this preseason. He's been perfect. With four field goals in the Cardinals game, the ninth-year veteran is now 8-for-8 on field goals through two preseason games and has accounted for 28 of the team's 52 points.
On Saturday in Glendale, Brown connected on field goals of 25, 25, 38 and 40 yards, plus three extra points. Brown's success has come amidst a game of musical chairs at holder between punters Matt Turk and Chad Stanley, who have been alternating the holding duties on just about every field goal.
Brown says that the excellent play of long snapper Bryan Pittman has helped him remain consistent. The kicker also has been working with special teams coordinator Joe Marciano on a new technique, and he seems to have found a groove.
"I just sat down this offseason and figured out some specific goals for myself and ways that I can become better and ways that I can make this team better," Brown said. "Joe and I have worked for over a year now on changing my technique up a little bit and last year, I was still trying to get used to it a little bit. It wasn't real comfortable.
"But with the changes that we've made, I just feel so comfortable doing it now and I'm not really thinking about how to get lined up and so forth."
Brown thrives off of knowing that his teammates can depend on him to produce.
"That's what this game's all about," he said. "It's all about guys being able to know that they can count on me to go out there and put points on the board. It's about being the guy at that moment in the game that if we need to make a play, I can make a play."
Simmons plays strong:As expected, 10th-year veteran Jason Simmons got the start at strong safety in place of injured Glenn Earl. He played well, finishing with two solo tackles and one assist near where he played college football at Arizona State.
"Man, it felt so good to get this opportunity," Simmons said. "I just want to prove to everybody that I can play.
"I could have done some things better, but you know it's one of those things where nobody ever plays the perfect game. As long as I stay hard on myself, it'll be alright."
Going into this week of practice, Simmons won't allow his pursuit of locking down the starting spot to distract him and affect his play.
"The thing is, man, it's about concentrating on the Cowboys," he said. "One thing I know is that the Lord is in control of everything. I've just got to do my best. I'm just expecting to play well now."
One receiver, two receiver, three receiver… four?With the steady play of Kevin Walter and the emergence of rookie speedster Jacoby Jones to complement Pro Bowler Andre Johnson, the Texans have a clear top three at wide receiver. But things get murky after that.
The Texans likely will keep five or six receivers on the roster, but the fourth receiver on the depth chart is usually the last one to see consistent playing time on offense. Among the stable of receivers vying for that fourth spot, none has clearly separated himself from the pack as of yet.
"A guy's going to have to be able to do a lot of things, play a lot of spots," Kubiak said. "It's going to be a very difficult decision. Charlie Adams stepped up and made a big play. He's had a fine camp and we haven't talked about him. Bethel Johnson came in and ran a nice (end) around. That's going to be a tough decision, but that's a nice problem to have."
No rush:The Texans' pass rush has been less than desired through two preseason games. Third-team defensive tackle Thomas Johnson recorded a sack against the Cardinals, but the first and second units were sack-less for the second consecutive game.
Defensive end Mario Williams failed to record a tackle or sack in the preseason opener against Chicago, but Kubiak said Williams looked good on film and that it was only a matter of time before Williams would post numbers to validate his improvement. Against the Cardinals, Williams came close to making a few plays, but was held without a sack once again.
"It's pretty obvious he's got to play better," Kubiak said of Williams. "He's got to be more of a factor for us to become a great defense. I don't see a lack of effort in the kid, but it's obvious we as coaches have to take more upon ourselves to get him in position to make some of those plays. He's got his part to do. We've got our part to do."