The Houston Texans were without a number of starters for their first preseason game against the New Orleans Saints, from Laremy Tunsil and Brandin Cooks on offense to Jerry Hughes and Christian Kirksey on defense. With preseason games reduced from four to three last year, Head Coach Lovie Smith says his philosophy on preseason playing time hasn't changed.
"As we went into preseason, we had a plan that we're going with on how we were going to play everybody and how many reps for the most part they were going to get," Smith said Monday. "Injuries are the only thing that kind of knocked us off track a little bit with that. That's not really knocking us off track because you get a chance to see somebody that maybe wasn't in those plans. Again, keep in mind, practices, preseason games, it's all a part of the plan to get ready for the regular season."
The Texans will have two days of practice in preparation for Friday's game in Los Angeles against the Rams. Davis Mills, who was 3-of-3 for 14 yards last Saturday, should see his playing time increase against the Rams this week. The Texans starting QB played just two series in the opener before being replaced by Jeff Driskel for the remainder of the game. Backup quarterback Kyle Allen did not play due to personal reasons.
"The first preseason game, the plan is not to play him (Mills) a lot," Smith said. "They play more the second, and then the third. We have a plan for a three-game preseason. I'll just say that. That's what we wanted Davis to get tonight. I understand he hasn't played a lot, but he's got more reps in practice than anyone. We feel comfortable with a healthy football team for the most part going in to play the world champion next week. He'll get his reps in."
Other players that should see more time are third-year defensive lineman Jonathan Greenard, who dealt with injuries that caused him to miss five games last season despite leading the team with 8.0 sacks. However, Smith said that not every player will see action in the preseason.
"You look throughout the league, some players aren't going to play any," Smith said. "So maybe some of ours. We have a few players that may not play any throughout, so it's just not a given. I'm not saying everybody on our roster is going to play this preseason."
The Texans No. 3 overall pick, Derek Stingley Jr., has yet to make his NFL debut. Stingley has been a full-go in training camp but did not play against the Saints. A decision on Stingley's playing status will come later this week, according to Smith.
"Derek (Stingley Jr.) needs to play this preseason, true enough," Smith said. "But a little bit later on, like after Tuesday's practice, we get a little closer to LA, we'll talk about who's going to play then. Right now, I know that Derek is going to scrimmage tomorrow, and we're excited about seeing him continue to get better daily, which he's doing. Getting more and more comfortable each day, but a little bit later on in the week, we'll let you know our ideas, our plans for how we're going to play our guys the second preseason game."
The Texans will practice Tuesday and Wednesday at the Houston Methodist Training Center and Friday's kickoff against the Rams is set for 9 p.m. CT. Learn how to watch here.