It's time for the first test drive of the 2015 Houston Texans. When you last left NRG Stadium you felt the pride of having your Texans log a winning season after the disaster of 2013. And you also felt the sting of knowing that one more solid quarter by Cleveland on the final day, or, more importantly, one more Texans win along the way would have resulted in a trip to the playoffs.
A new journey begins Saturday. We'll get our first preseason look at Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett, neither of which played for this team at this time last year. We'll also get a taste of a defense that's projected to be one of the best in the NFL.
Take a look at the best photos from the 10th practice of #TexansCamp.
Offensively it's not only about generating rhythm in the passing game but finding a recipe on the ground that can get the job done without the services of Arian Foster. The Texans handed off more than any team in the league last year so players like Alfred Blue, Jonathan Grimes, Chris Polk and Kenny Hilliard have to step up to help keep the sticks moving.
You'll also see a number of intriguing players at wide receiver. Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts should be fun to watch. Jaelen Strong and Keith Mumphery are draft choices who have opened eyes at practice and are eager for their first NFL action. DeAndre Hopkins has been his usual stellar self in camp so far. Plus there are a number of younger players including Alan Bonner and EZ Nwachukwu who are aching for playing time.
Defensively, JJ Watt hardly the needs the work. Veteran Vince Wilfork enters his 12th season in the league and first in Houston. He will be a huge help up front this year. Safety Rahim Moore signed on in the offseason from Denver. And a corner last year, Andre Hal, is someone to watch at safety as well as he tries to make a permanent home there. The secondary appears to be ocean-deep.
Bill O'Brien will likely go through every layer of the depth chart in game one so keep a roster handy. One of the main goals is to play turnover and penalty free and put up a far better showing than the opener last year which saw Houston start with a thud at Arizona.
It's been a productive camp so far and preseason game one represents an important sign post on how the squad is progressing. Enjoy the show.