Let’s cut the pleasantries, shall we? I mean, it has been two weeks already, so most of the position battles are done. The decisions look pretty obvious and the battle to make the 53-man roster for the back-ups and third-teamers really won’t happen until the final preseason game against Minnesota.
Saturday’s a road game against the New Orleans Saints, where MDC may or may not be getting crunk, and is on national TV (CBS, for those unaware). The starters will go into the third quarter, maybe playing the entire third quarter based on play count/performance. This is a very good measuring stick for how the starters stack up for the 2012 season.
There are a few major issues for your Houston Texans to sort out, so jump to get a recap and guide on what to watch for on Saturday night.
Right Tackle - Rashad Butler versus Derek Newton:
Newton outperformed Butler against Carolina, but Butler responded with a stronger game against San Francisco. Honestly, this one is as close as it gets. There has been talk that Head Coach Gary Kubiak is open to the possibility of rotating them, but I am one of many who think continuity with the offense line matters a great deal in the zone-blocking scheme. It would be easier for Antoine Caldwell to get on the right communicative page with one tackle as opposed to two.
I presume Kubiak will rotate both tackles in every few series throughout the entire game, so keep an eye out for 75 or 78 at the end of the line. Hopefully, one of these right tackles will step up when the pressure is on because I honestly do dread the idea of a platoon.
Kicker – Shayne Graham versus Randy Bullock:
If we were doing this by in-game kicks alone, Graham likely would have a small lead due to him not missing any kicks and Bullock missing one last week. However, Bullock being drafted means it is still Bullock’s job to lose. No general manager wants to ditch a rookie in year one.
I happen to like that the dress rehearsal game comes in a dome. It really is all on the kickers, so we should have a good idea how their non-wind aided legs look coming out of this. Plus, the Superdome can get loud. In a rowdy road environment, Bullock can show he will not be rattled and lock up the job or struggle and add more uncertainty fuel to the position fire.
Kick and Punt Returner Trindon Holliday:
Is he or isn’t he going to be on the roster? This is the never-ending debate this week amongst Texan fans. Holliday is averaging 44 yards per kick return, with all returns going over 20 yards, and 18.4 yards per punt return. He is also the only returner with both a kick and punt return touchdown during the 2012 preseason, but that still has not settled this. Saturday, however, could go a long, long way toward settling this debate.
As has been mentioned, this is where those starting units will get the most time. If Holliday can produce a third strong outing, who can deny him? If he can have another game where he makes a positive impact, does anyone think Holliday will not be a Texan come September?
Nose Tackles Earl Mitchell and Hebron Fangupo:
There is no battle for the starting or reserve nose tackle positions, but it should be watched on Saturday. With Ra’Shon Harris being placed on injured reserve and Shaun Cody recovering, Mitchell and Fangupo will be the only two nose tackles to dress on Saturday. Jared Crick and Tim Jamison could also pitch in at nose, according to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, but they will also be covering for a missing J.J. Watt. Last week, the defensive line, as a whole, struggled, and so all eyes will be on them, especially roster hopeful Fangupo, as they lock up with Jahri Evans and a big Saints line.
That is how Houston’s key positions shape up for Saturday. Are there any other areas of concern for the Texans? Let the comments be home to your wonderful insights and witty banter.
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