Everybody has something to prove. For these 89 (minus Jadeveon Clowney) Houston Texans Week 3 of the preseason represents a chance to prove that you are a week-in and week-out professional fit for the National Football League.
What makes the third preseason week different is that the teams prepare for their opponent as it was a regular season game. The installation of the offense and defense is over, now its time to truly see if each ball player can put it all together. This gives the coaching staff a sense of the level of preparation each player devotes in the lead up to a game.
Just know this:If you don’t see a player play in the Saturday game against the Cowboys, they’re either hurt or not going to make the cut. Or they are J.J. Watt.
Johnson is battling for the sixth WR position behind DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller V, Keke Coutee, DeAndre Carter, and Vyncint Smith. With Coutee constantly injured, the Texans are likely going to keep a sixth WR on the roster. Johnson has to prove he can reliably make plays down field. He frequently was open behind the Lions defense last week, but was unable to finish on a couple key plays.
To land on this roster, it’s almost mandatory that he string together a couple clean receptions on chunk plays against the Cowboys. He needs to force the Texans hand into keeping him instead of hoping no other team takes him off their practice squad. One way he could do that is through locking down the punt and kick returner duties. Special teams always seems to be a way onto the Texans roster.
Thomas, unlike many of the other players mentioned in this article, is fighting for a starting role in this offense.
Thomas looked like a kid jumping off the high dive for the first time when run blocking against the Lions. Yes it was his first game action of the year since he’s been recovering from an injured hamstring, but to clinch the starting job he’s got to take a major step in the run blocking game. Thomas’ development in this category would push veteran TE and teammate Darren Fells off the roster, thus giving himself more reps.
Thomas does have some baby soft hands that are among the most reliable on the team. As a converted WR, he’s certainly a red-zone threat and primary safety valve to QB Deshaun Watson. But in Bill O’Brien’s offense, starting tight ends need to to be highly well-rounded to get on the field. Even if you’re not actually talented in any one area, O’Brien requires his tight ends to be a jack of all trades. Example? Ryan Griffin.
The 2018 third round pick has not exactly wowed the fans with his development over the last several weeks. With an influx of new faces taking center stage in preseason, Rankin has faded to the back of the depth chart. I find myself rooting for Rankin, partially because I want Matt Weston to be right in his projection of Rankin for this offense, and partially because I despise the futility of drafting players and them not panning out.
Heading into training camp, Rankin was in line to compete for the starting job against Senio Kelemente, but now with rookie Tytus Howard stepping inside to take over the position, Rankin is suddenly treading water to make the roster. He needs to show he has the tenacity to play at the NFL and the footwork necessary to block much bigger opponents.
He’s the one player from Clemson not balling out for the Texans. The former fourth round pick and product of the [NAME REDACTED] trade has been quietly waiting for his shot on a talented defensive line. Watkins has been injured for most if not all of training camp.
Watkins is a huge human. At 6’3”, 297 lbs, he is a monster truck that can’t be moved.
The Texans could seriously use the Watkins that recorded three tackles and a sack against Jacksonville last year. He’d step into the role Christian Covington left. If he is able to play on Saturday, he must prove that he is a better third-down option than Albert Huggins and has more potential than Tracy Sprinkle.
No other player’s chances on this team ebb and flow more with the news and rumors of Jadeveon Clowney more than OLB Bellamy. Not quite talented at getting after the quarterback, Bellamy is rock solid against the run. He does a fantastic job stonewalling tight ends and setting the edge for the defensive line.
He's also a workhorse on special teams. He certainly mirrors Brennan Scarlett in terms of skill set and field play, but do the Texans need two of the same player on the roster? A sack in this preseason game would do wonders for his chances to make the roster. He needs to prove that he brings more to the table than just a good edge-setter... and that means sacks baby.
Honorable mentions go out to Julie’n Davenport, Albert Huggins, Damarea Crockett/Karan Higdon, Jahleel Addae, and A.J. Moore.
Tomorrow should be fun. The regular season is just around the corner and it’s an exciting time to be a football fan. Are there any players you are going to have your binoculars on and watching their performance against Dallas? Let us know in the comment section below.