Typically, the third preseason game functions as a dress-rehearsal of sorts for NFL teams. Starters and projected starters tend to stay in the game longer, giving coaches and fans a little bit more of an idea of what to expect from the team during the regular season.
That philosophy, however, resulted in some alarming injuries so far this weekend, with the Packers suffering injuries to three projected starters in Randall Cobb, Bryan Bulaga, and Micah Hyde (Jordy Nelson is already out for the year with an ACL injury). Also, the Steelers, already on their second kicker of the year, saw Garrett Hartley injure his hamstring, less than three weeks after Shaun Suisham went down for the season with an ACL injury, and Bud Dupree injure his foot. Other injuries to central players that have already occurred this weekend include Bengals QB Andy Dalton (neck), Chargers Philip Rivers (thumb), Colts Arthur Jones (ankle), Jets rookie Leonard Williams (projected to be a key player this season, given the drama surrounding Muhammad Wilkerson's contract and Sheldon Richardson's criminal behavior) and Jamari Lattimore (both with knee injuries), Browns Duke Johnson and Pierre Desir (concussions), Bills Stephon Gilmore (shoulder) and Marquise Goodwin (rib), Giants Robert Ayers (ankle), Eagles Lane Johnson (MCL), Dolphins Mike Pouncey (knee), and Bears Eddie Goldman (concussion), and Jeremiah Ratliff (ankle).
With that extensive list in mind, the Texans have already indicated that they don't intend to play starters much, if at all, today. I, personally, would be surprised if J.J. Watt or Vince Wilfork play at all, and we already know Jadeveon Clowney won't be in a game until opening day. That being said, this game will offer the starting offense (minus LT Duane Brown, out with a finger injury) a chance to get some in-game work with starting QB Brian Hoyer, so I wouldn't be surprised to see them working together for the first two quarters.
This should offer Texans fans our first chance to get an extended look-in at what Hoyer looks like running this offense somewhere that isn't a trainwreck. While plenty of fans remain disenchanted with the results of the QB competition, it's important that we see that Hoyer can handle the task and not be a liability as we seek to make the playoffs and win in Indy. If he can at least not lose us games, it might go a long way towards winning a grudging acceptance of him under center for the season. If he looks terribad, expect fans to clamor for his head.
This is your countdown thread where you can discuss your hopes, fears, and expectations for this game (and the season, since you will anyways). Comment away!
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