When the Houston Texans hit Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome tomorrow night, I will be in the house
getting drunk and taunting special teams coordinator Joe Marciano with chants of "Joeeee-sph, Joeeeee-sph, Joeeeee-sph." watching the Texans as they kick off their 2013 preseason tilt against the Minnesota Vikings.
Brett Kollmann already addressed some of the bigger storylines to keep an eye on for Friday and beyond, but being in the stadium will provide its own uniquities to watch for. I say that because there's a lot that the cameras and TV personalities won't pick up, show, or address.
For the majority of those who play on Friday, preseason game one will be their first NFL action and/or their first on-field interview for one of the vacant spots on the 53-man roster. Considering that the starters will pick up on playing time over the next two weeks, this is a pretty huge game for guys 70-90 on the depth charts. Will they be overwhelmed by the lights? Will they be on the sidelines between snaps trying to pick people's brains? I want to see who's working during the game and who feels safe.
On the flip side of that, I want to see which veterans have their heads in the game. We've heard the talk of Ed Reed, Andre Johnson, and guys of that ilk playing a hands-on, on-the-field mentorship role this offseason. Does this continue through to the sidelines at the Metrodome? Which guys are taking the youngsters under their wing on the sidelines? Who is soliciting advice? Who is keeping a keen eye on the field? Who is setting that example of what it's like to be a professional to all the young watchers?
Also, who is willing to sign some merchandise for me?
The thing I am most anticipating watching for is what happens when someone screws up. Someone will drop a ball or blow a coverage or whiff on a tackle or miss an open read. What happens then? Who pulls the young man aside for a word? Does the young man keep thinking about that moment over and over again? Does he shake it off and move forward? While it is a meaningless preseason game, this is still a pressure filled game for those players fighting for jobs. It's important to see how they handle those low moments on the sidelines.
Finally, it is a dome game, which means it's also a turf game. I don't want to see any injuries, especially to any starters. With the rash of NFL injuries lately, I'll likely be holding my breath while the starters and key reserves are out there. Once I
have a beer or four see the third stringers, I'll relax and move into hearing range for Marciano.
I'll be roaming about with a Vikings fan, but I'll try and get some sideline candids for you fine upstanding readers. If you're fortunate enough to be in Minneapolis tomorrow and see a handsome devil in a "Texans Just Do It" shirt, say hi. Who knows? That just might be me.
One day more, ladies and gentlemen. You're almost there...