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Houston Texans

Vandermeer's View: Another win at the wire

By the time it was over, we were talking about Joe Webb and how much fun it was to watch the veteran lead the team down the field in the clutch en route to the Texans 16-13 preseason win over San Francisco.

But the way it started is what mattered most. Yes, it would have been nice to stop Jimmy Garoppolo on the opening drive. The talented quarterback helped his team convert three third downs on a 78 yard touchdown drive.

Even though seven projected defensive starters didn't play for Houston, Garoppolo was impressive. And it was alarming to see Kevin Johnson go out with a concussion after getting a long look by the medical staff.

Then Deshaun Watson came in and changed the game. It was only one drive but Watson read the defense well, completed five passes and played with the kind of precision and tempo that Bill O'Brien has been seeking in his offense since 2014.

That's all we had to see from the second year quarterback. You get the feeling that everyone would be just fine to put Watson in packing peanuts until the opener September 9.

Brandon Weeden came in and things were not as smooth as last week's 9-11 performance. Weeden's sub 50% outing is likely the result of a lot of things. In other words, success in the passing game is so often an ensemble effort. He'll get another crack at it next week In Los Angeles.

And Webb led the team on a go ahead field goal drive to open the third quarter. Then, the offense struggled until the final make-or-break drive. His 41-yard touchdown pass to Vyncint Smith was a boost for the third team unit and rewarded the defense for hanging in there most of the night.

Houston earned two turnovers and made some key plays on third down as the night wore on. It's preseason football, so it's all about evaluation. The Texans brass will watch Kevin Johnson closely. If he were to be unavailable for any amount of time, would they rearrange the secondary?

Aaron Colvin started outside in base defense tonight. If that happened in the regular season, would Kareem Jackson move to nickel? What about Tyrann Mathieu?

Let's hope it's a decision they don't have to make. They do have options with the versatility of their back-end players.

Last week, rookie tight end Jordan Akins looked terrific. This week, Ryan Griffin made it clear he was in no hurry to give up playing time, nabbing two catches, including a near touchdown at the goal line from Watson.

At receiver, Sammy Coates made some big plays before exiting with a concussion. And Bruce Ellington showed that he and Watson have chemistry as four of Watson's six completions are to him. Of course, the bulk of the target percentage will go to DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller V once they enter the fray. Braxton Miller showed some burst on a couple of screens in another three catch performance.

The running game has yet to pop. It is early. The backs and o-line haven't yet found a groove. There's no way O'Brien is displaying all he's got on offense yet. But you know he wants more production. He might have to wait until the regular season to truly gauge what the potential there is.

Special teams is still a work in progress. The 49ers found a few cracks of daylight in the return game. Next week presents another opportunity to work on what Brad Seely is preaching.

It's been fun to see the first two games go down to the wire. It'll be more fun to see all the starters play. That'll have to wait three more weeks. For now, the coaches will get the players ready for two more test drives before the invasion of New England takes place.

Check out photos of the Houston Texans as they defeat the San Francisco 49ers in their home-opening preseason game.

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