KANSAS CITY, Mo. -Veteran players like linebacker DeMeco Ryans might have played the opening snaps of the 2009 preseason, but it was the play of a group of young rookies that helped seal the Texans' 16-10 victory over the Chiefs.
"The young guys stepped up and did well," Ryans said. "I saw Connor Barwin out there doing good things, (TE James) Casey on offense. (WR Darnell) Jenkins. A lot of those young guys stepped up and did a great job, so it was definitely good to see them out there in live action for the first time."
Barwin had one of the night's highlights late in the second quarter when he recorded his first career sack, taking down Chiefs quarterback Brodie Croyle in the backfield to force a fourth down and a punt.
Coming off the left edge, Barwin fooled Chiefs left tackle Brandon Albert with a spin move and quickly got into the pocket to take down Croyle for an 8-yard loss.
"The first couple of pressures I got, I was a little hesitant," Barwin said. "Then finally, I said, 'You know, I'm going to do this move,' and I did it and it worked. I just gave the guy a fake spin and he bit on it, and I was right there."
Barwin's speed has been a key tool used to great success so far in practice sessions, but his experience in live game action on Saturday taught him a valuable early lesson—speed alone isn't enough.
"My speed is definitely something I need to use, but at this level, it's not going to be (enough)," Barwin said. "I'm going to have to have counter moves and all kinds of other things. So I know it's something I'm going to have to use, but I need to improve on all of the other things."
On the offensive side of the ball, Casey had a memorable debut as well. On his very first play of the game, Casey notched a tackle as a member of the kickoff coverage team, later adding another special teams tackle to give him a total of two for the game.
"That's something that I'll remember for the rest of my life, regardless of what happens the rest of the way," Casey said of his first tackle.
The ex-Rice Owl also made an impact in the passing game, hauling in his first career reception on the first play after the first half two-minute warning. Casey's catch gained 5 yards and helped set up Kris Brown's second field goal of the game.
"I got a catch early in the game, and then the conditions got a little sloppy so we couldn't throw the ball as much as I would have liked," Casey said. "So excited about that, just (have to) keep building on it and just keep trying to get better."
Just like Barwin, Casey quickly came to the realization that live NFL competition was unlike anything else he'd experienced before on a football field.
"It's a whole other level out there," Casey said. "I walked out on the field today, and I just felt so blessed to be out there and amongst those guys. It ended up great because we got the win."
First year player Darnell Jenkins also drew postgame praise for his work on special teams and on offense. Jenkins returned a kickoff 42 yards, had a pair of punt returns and recorded a 19-yard reception in the third quarter off a deep pass from quarterback Dan Orlovsky.