Conventional wisdom is that the third game of the preseason is a dress rehearsal, with starters going the entire first half and often playing well into the third quarter.
Bill O'Brien does not care for your conventional wisdom.
When you look at our football team, I know the kind of general consensus out there with everybody is that the third preseason game is—you leave your starters or whatever in there for upwards of two and a half or three quarters, that will not be the case for us.
Why is O'Brien taking this route? I suppose there are a few potential reasons. For one, as he implies in the rest of the article, there are a lot non-starter guys who he wants to get an additional look at before the roster is cut down to 75 on Tuesday, meaning that Sunday will be the final chance to see those guys in game-like conditions.
Additionally, the starters that we, as fans, would most like to see (J.J. Watt, DeAndre Hopkins, etc.) are known quantities. There is little they would learn in a preseason game that is worth risking some kind of injury for.
There's also the fact that the Texans play the Saints in Week 12 of the regular season. O'Brien doesn't really seem like the kind of guy who hold out starters in the preseason just to limit the scouting opportunities for the Saints, but, then again, O'Brien did learn much of his trade from Bill Belichick, who has never met a competitive advantage that he wouldn't exploit like sweatshop laborers.
(A final, more cynical explanation is that O'Brien wants to limit the scrutiny on Brian Hoyer qua QB1, at least until the regular season kicks off and his hand is forced.)
Whatever the reason, you're likely going to have wait until the Chiefs game to unleash that "J.J. just broke a quarterback's soul" dance you've been practicing all off-season.
Texans vs Saints coverage