On Saturday night, thankfully on the NFL Network for us out-of-market enthusiasts, your Houston Texans open the preseason against the Carolina Panthers and Cam "I Wish He Was a Fig" Newton. Sorry about the Berman-esque joke, but I am currently eating some fig newtons, so it had to be said.
Naturally, there is excitement about football to be played, but we all know what to expect this Saturday. I expect starters, those not named Andre Johnson, to get two series. I expect Johnson to look on from the sidelines in a Nike shirt and cap. From there, the back-ups should finish out the first half while the second half should feature third and fourth stringers fighting to impress, despite some presumably sloppy play from guys who rarely see the field.
As I watch and re-watch the game, I will have my eyes on six key Texans who could shape how the roster is built. Jump to see who is playing this game with a spotlight on them.
Beck is a veteran who has started in the NFL and will face third-stringers. I am not saying he should be Aaron Rodgers out there, but he should look markedly better than his opposition. Beck could take a spot on the 53-man roster as the veteran third-stringer, but it should not happen if he flops in Carolina.
Saturday is a big audition for Beck since Coach Kubiak said Case Keenum, and not Beck, will play with the third-team in the second week. With the third week usually being heavy on the first two teams, this is Beck's only in-game impression until the last week, when a decision could already be made.
Wide Receiver DeVier Posey – A non-factor for the majority of the 2011 campaign for The Ohio State Buckeyes, Posey should see significant action on Saturday. The third-round pick has not lit the world on fire like his Spartan brethren, but Posey is still in a battle for the fifth receiver spot against Bryant Johnson.
If Posey can run routes and show some decent in-game conditioning, it will go a long way in helping his cause to be receiver five or even force a sixth receiver spot on the roster. If Posey struggles, it will just help the case for him to be a Kubiak IR stashee.
Right Tackle Derek Newton – Rashad Butler has yet to run away with the right tackle spot, so Newton’s got a shot at prying it away. A strong performance Saturday would be a nice way to chip away at Butler’s lead.
During camp, Newton has been praised by reporters and fans as the more physical tackle. In other words, he has been aggressive and is getting after it. If that Newton shows up on Saturday, this battle could get more interesting.
Nose Tackle Hebron Fangupo – Shaun Cody will likely be done in the first quarter, while I’m unsure how they’ll play Earl Mitchell (hint: he should get a quarter’s action). Given the thin depth at nose, I imagine Fangupo will get the lion’s share of snaps at the nose, and that is fantastic news.
Long have Texans fans wanted a 320+ pounder manning the middle of the defensive line, so no one minds an extensive look at the BYU Cougar. Fangupo has a ton of opportunity to impress Wade and Gary and get them thinking about carrying a third nose tackle on the roster.
Cornerback Brandon Harris – The forgotten man in the 2011 rebirth of the Texans' secondary, Harris has shown up to camp and balled like a man from The U should ball.
Harris has looked sharp in training camp and he will have to continue to do that to stay in the dime spot. If he plays well enough, Harris could even climb higher up the depth chart to challenge the McCains and Jacksons of the world.
Kicker Randy Bullock – Competition, shompetition. This is Bullock’s job to lose. No general manager is going to admit to wasting a pick in year one, so Bullock will get a lot of opportunities. Every kick, every extra point, and every field goal will be analyzed. In fact, and this could be important to remember on Saturday, I bet Kubiak will do his part to stall the offense so Bullock does get additional in-game kicks.
As long as Bullock does not outright choke, he will be the third kicker in franchise history. If he chokes, then we will have quite the interesting situation on Kirby.
Those are the six I will be watching closely. How about you, BRB Faithful? Who do you plan on watching?