On Sunday afternoon, your Houston Texans take on the Arizona Cardinals of the NFC West at NRG Stadium. With the mandatory cuts to 75 players just around the corner, everyone will be keen to make an impression on Bill O'Brien and his staff.
Unfortunately it's preseason. Therefore, we won't be seeing much (if any) of the DeAndre Hopkins - Patrick Peterson match-up. So apart from the always open Stephen Anderson, what's worth the watch this week, folks?
1: Joel Heath
The UDFA defensive end has been making noise all training camp and he has had some great snaps out there in preseason. With the fourth defensive end job very much an open competition, Heath is a man to watch. Heath made what Bill O'Brien called "an unbelievable hustle play" to tackle a scrambling Luke McCown 15 yards down field in Saturday’s win over the Saints. He has reportedly taken some snaps with the first team defense in training camp, and there has been a lot of praise for Heath from O'Brien and the media throughout camp. Heath only has 4 tackles so far this preseason, but he was creating problems for the New Orleans Saints offensive line every time he was out there. He has shown that he has a spin move in his repertoire in camp, and he is strong enough to move tackles with the bull rush. He may get quite a few snaps as O'Brien gives a closer look at those players on the roster bubble heading towards the first round of cuts.
2: Running Back
After two weeks of preseason games, I think it is safe to conclude that Lamar Miller is well worth his price tag. The real fight is going to be for the spots behind him. Tyler Ervin has disappointed so far; hopefully some better blocking helps him out, but he needs to display some more of his speed and agility if he's going to make the team. Can the rookie turn it around against the Cardinals?
Kenny Hilliard has surprised nearly everyone by showing that he's not as slow as we once thought. He's been a bruising back so far in preseason; can he continue? Jonathan Grimes continues to be the old faithful, putting in the dirty work blocking and seemingly gaining at least three yards every time he touches the ball. Akeem Hunt has been electric again this preseason and he's making it very difficult for O'Brien to choose rookie Ervin over him. Will Hunt continue to set himself apart?
3. Tony Bergstrom and Greg Mancz
Watching either of these guys at center is highly concerning, but it something to keep an eye on Sunday. Neither of them have been particularly great this preseason, but with rookie starting center Nick Martin out for the season, one of these guys is going to have to step up to the plate. Bergstrom was signed earlier this offseason as a free agent from the Oakland Raiders, but he has looked awful and not any better than sophomore UDFA Mancz. If you can bear to watch Brock Osweiler take snaps from one of these guys, it will be interesting to see who can win this below average battle.
4. Reshard Cliett
The second year linebacker is finally seeing the field after tearing his ACL in the first day of training camp last year. He had a nice pass breakup late in the fourth quarter against the Saints but didn’t do a whole lot else. He’s an exciting physical specimen and has potential to play many spots on the defense. How Romeo Crennel chooses to utilise Cliett is worth a watch, as he could move around a lot, from outside linebacker spots to inside linebacker to even safety. Cliett will need to start making plays if he wants to make the roster, even with the lack of depth at the inside linebacker position.
What are you looking forward to seeing on Sunday?