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Texans v. Panthers: Tight End J.J. Watt? Cam Newton & Other Storylines To Watch For

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Here's this week's viewing guide for the Texans' road game against the Carolina Panthers.

He's watching you while you watch him.
He's watching you while you watch him.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, we eagerly anticipated the return of Jadeveon Clowney (and for different reasons, Eric Berry). We also nervously awaited for the official debut of Brian Hoyer in a Texans uniform. It was a mixed bag of results to say the least.

But today is a new week and we've got a new quarterback to go with it, so let's jump right in.

5. Will J.J. Watt see an extended role as the team's third tight end?

Ryan Griffin was last week's most active tight end, getting the most snaps and targets, but a strained MCL suffered late in the game will leave the Texans with just Garrett Graham and C.J. Fiedorowicz on the depth chart for the time being.

With the front office deciding not to bring in a third tight end via free agency or trade, many in the media have speculated whether All-Existance defensive end J.J. Watt will reprise his role as a goalline tight end this year. Watt caught three touchdown passes in 2014 in goalline situations.

We got the usual stonewalling from Bill O'Brien in interviews this week, but we did get a coy "maybe" from Watt.

4. Was Travis Kelce's drubbing of the Texans' defense the exception, or the rule?

We all watched in dismay as Travis Kelce (and Alex Smith) victimized the Texans' linebackers and safeties, catching six passes for 96 yards and two scores.

This week they'll face another talented downfield pass-catcher in Greg Olsen. Though he's not as physically gifted as Kelce, Olsen should be an active target for Cam Newton, for no other reason than his other receivers include Ted Ginn, Jr., Jerricho Cotchery and...?

Keep an eye on how Brian Cushing, Rahim Moore and Quintin Demps handle Olsen.

3. Cam Newton's mobility and playmaking ability.

The first and only time the Texans faced Cam Newton, he was at the tail-end of a Rookie of the Year campaign. The Texans, trotting out their own rookie in T.J. Yates, absolutely needed a win in hopes of securing higher playoff seeding and a first round bye. Newton would deny them, with an efficient 149 yards on 13-23 passing and two scores, with another 55 yards rushing.

Newton's game goes beyond passing and into true dual threat capability. It'll be interesting (or horrifying) to see what the Texans do to slow him down.

2. An offensive line sans Duane Brown (possibly).

Actually I won't advocate watching this. Viewer discretion is advised. Duane Brown is listed as questionable heading into gameday, and there's a large drop off in talent on the depth chart after him.

1. Ryan Mallett: Part Deaux

A torn pectoral muscle suffered in 2014 has only delayed the inevitable. Ryan Mallett will enter NRG Stadium Bank of America Stadium riding a golden mechanicical bull before systematically erradicating all panthers, pumas, cougars, mountain lions, bobcats and ocelots from this planet. Jaguars, lions and tigers will get theirs in due time.

That's my list. What's yours, friend? Sound off down below.

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