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Vandermeer's View: Winning and Learning

An old coach once told me that you win a preseason game by learning a lot about your team.

Here we go…

Some of you needed to see Deshaun Watson take snaps and move around to prove that he was fully recovered from his knee injury. I didn’t. It was obvious to me at the Greenbrier, but I understand that you needed to see it with your own eye. It was encouraging, if not thrilling, to see him in the shot gun operating the Texans offense, even though it was brief.

The starting offensive line looked very capable as they stayed in for the Brandon Weeden engineered drive that resulted in the first of two Jordan Aikens’ touchdown receptions. Every bit of quality time the first five gets together will go a long way toward getting them ready for New England on opening day.

Aikens was a mini-revelation. He got open, made the two scoring catches and looked like he belonged. He’ll be fun to watch.

Duke Ejiofor showed some versatility and ferocity in rushing the passer. He and the front seven, even without J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney, Benardrick McKinney and D.J. Reader got some heat on Patrick Mahomes. You can bet Andy Reid didn’t enjoy seeing his starting quarterback sacked and hit in his limited action.

Bruce Ellington looked very comfortable as a second year player in the system, with three receptions. And Braxton Miller showed that he’s made strides, snagging three passes as well.

Last week I wrote that Troymaine Pope would touch the ball a lot and he did with three catches and six carries. Pope had 55 total yards, which was a nice showing for his Texans preseason debut.

Let’s get back to the tight ends. In addition to Akins’ two TD receptions, Matt Lengel caught a couple of balls and Stephen Anderson, had a nice I’m-still-here catch. And it’s just a matter of time before Jordan Thomas shows up on the stat sheet. Going into the offseason, you knew the tight end group would need to be fortified and now it looks intriguing.

Brandon Weeden might not have grabbed the biggest headlines of the night but perhaps he should. He went a surgical 9-11 and got the ball out quickly. And Joe Webb was effective and entertaining, throwing for 56 yards and running for 42, including a close-but-no-first-down scramble in the fourth quarter.

Speaking of entertainment. You have to love it when a preseason game comes down to the wire. We were layers-in on the depth chart when Kansas City put together a late 22-play drive that yielded nothing and preserved the Texans win. It was a fun and productive night.

No one will throw a parade. And Bill O’Brien probably has a list several feet long with things he wants to work on. But the Texans showed that they have a lot going for them as they took their first steps out of the gate in 2018.

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