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Vandermeer's View: Checking off the list

All offseason we've been telling you that the Texans look much better in practice than they did at the same time last year. Well, the first preseason game was a prime example. Compared to the lopsided loss in the opener at Arizona last year, this was like a cool blast of air conditioning on a hot Houston day.

Sure there's plenty to work on, and we'll get to that, but this was a good start with plenty of eye opening moments.

There were things we wanted to check off the list.

1. Did the quarterbacks play well?

All three looked smooth and in control. Brian Hoyer began the game with a nice throw to Garrett Graham to convert a third and long and later hit Cecil Shorts III for a 58 yard touchdown.

Ryan Mallett, who will get the next start against Denver, went 10 for 11, and showed that he knows how to run the offense.

And Tom Savage threw some beauties including a nice mini-scramble and short pass to Chris Polk to extend a drive and the back shoulder delivery to Jaelen Strong for a touchdown. He's no rookie anymore.

2. Did the running game look good?
Well, yes between the goal lines. Alfred Blue played like he can provide a nice lift in the absence of Arian Foster. Polk looked like he was no stranger to the offense and rookie Kenny Hilliard showed some pop. Johnathan Grimes continues to make a case that he deserves a gig. And even Jay Prosch carried the rock.

The goal-to-go failure on Mallett's first drive is a collective result that will no doubt will be a major focus in meetings and practice this week and might even eat up some Hard Knocks time. One would think that Bill O'Brien and George Godsey were trying to drive a point home about physicality in the play calling and another pass or two might have figured into the mix in a regular season scenario.

But facts are facts.

When you get that many chances at point blank range, you have to get in.

3. Did the wide receiver group look up to the task, especially with 'you know who' not here for the first season since 2002?
There's no question that the group is deeper than last year's bunch. When you factor in the return game, there's a truckload of competition for the final couple of spots with Alan Bonner, Chandler Worthy and Keith Mumphery, among others, fighting it out.

4. How deep did the defense look?
Most of the key starters either barely played or not at all. Things went well when Colin Kaepernick was in the game. Blaine Gabbert made some nice throws and got the team in the endzone against mostly 'twos and 'threes.' Then, the pass rush started showing up. Four sacks on the night got the job done as part of a dominant second half.

This was just a first spin around the block and there is much to do. But it was good to see chapter two of the O'Brien era get off to a productive start.

View the best fan photos from the Texans-49ers game.

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