Roster cuts are coming, and tomorrow night could be the best, if not final, chance for many players to stake their claim on a roster spot for the upcoming season. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the matchups and story lines worth watching for during this weekend’s clash between the Texans and Saints.
Zach Cunningham vs. Alvin Kamara
Zach Cunningham has had an up-and-down preseason. Last week, he struggled mightily against the Patriots’ running backs to the point that he gave up two passing TDs. Tomorrow night, Cunningham will be tasked with facing another RB with fantastic receiving ability in fellow rookie Alvin Kamara. Kamara was the Saints’ third round pick out of Tennessee and is well known for his ability to catch out of the backfield. This is going to be another good test of Cunningham’s ability to cover and adapt.
Who will step up at WR for the Texans?
Jaelen Strong’s suspension and Will Fuller’s injury means that the Texans are light at the WR position with only DeAndre Hopkins and Braxton Miller as remaining contributors of note from last year’s team. Who will step up for the Texans in the interim? The leading candidate appears to be Bruce Ellington, who has had an instant impact for the Texans against the Patriots after signing with Houston two weeks ago. After Ellington, resident speedster Wendall Williams and rookie Dres Anderson present the best options, along with Deshaun Watson’s favourite target, Riley McCarron.
Another test for Nick Martin
The Texans’ rookie center has been very good so far, having been thrown into the fire against the Panthers’ ferocious front seven. He’ll have another stern test this Saturday when he goes up against Cam Jordan and Sheldon Rankins. Rankins struggled during his rookie season due to injuries, but he’s a phenomenally twitchy two-gap DT who has been steadily getting back to his college form this entire preseason. Needless to say, Martin is going to have his hands full with the Saints’ defensive line.
Running Back Battle
It seems to be the perpetual battle within the Texans’ roster for running back spots, and there is going to be another fight this season. Lamar Miller is assured a place on the team and rookie D’Onta Foreman is also in a strong position to maintain his spot. This leaves Akeem Hunt, Tyler Ervin, Alfred Blue and Dare Ogunbowale to fight over the remaining spots. Tyler Ervin has had a rocky history with the Texans; his struggles as a special teams player have been well chronicled. The presence of Hunt, who has proven himself to be a excellent pass-catching option out of the backfield, could potentially push Ervin to the fringes.
Texans’ Safety Situation
The Texans’ safety situation this offseason has never quite reached the heights of the quarterback position in terms of panic, but there still are legitimate concerns about it. After a week of playing against the Patriots and Tom Brady, the rotation of bodies that occupy the depth chart will be tasked with containing Drew Brees and the Saints’ deep ball threats. K.J. Dillon and Treston Decoud have both seen large amounts of snaps over the course of the preseason. With snaps on the first team up for grabs, it’ll be interesting to see if any of the safeties stand out tomorrow night.
Any match-ups or players you’re looking forward to seeing? Let us know in the comments below.