Aug 9, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) reacts against the Arizona Cardinals during a preseason game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Texans Vs. Atlanta Falcons: What To Look For

Thank goodness we can finally put last week in the past, where it should be.

That was the worst performance that I can recall in recent memory in a preseason game.

But as this week progressed, I hope that the Houston Texans learned something from their experience no matter how bad it was.

It should motivate them to go out and play harder than ever before.

I’m not saying that it’s time to push the panic button because it’s early into the nuances of the NFL season but to go shutout under any circumstances is a cause for concern.

You better believe that Bill O’Brien and his staff worked every angle all week to figure what went wrong to prepare for the Atlanta Falcons tonight.

This will be marked as the first preseason home game at NRG Stadium.

Here are some things to look for position-wise as the Texans take the field once again:

QUARTERBACK:  The battle is still on and I honestly think that the No. 1 spot is open for grabs with the way Ryan Fitzpatrick played last week.  Going 6-for-14 for only 55 passing yards with two picks is not going to cut it.  But he will have a chance to redeem himself tonight.  Case Keenum did take first team snaps this week so expect him to be in earlier this time, if things start to sour with Fitz.  I was totally critical of O’Brien leaving Fitz in so long but my best guess is that he may have thought he would’ve been to play out of his funk.  Tom Savage will be ready to go as well and still great to watch his progress even though he may he still be rough around the edges.

RUNNING BACK:  That battle for the No. 2 back job is still open but Jonathan Grimes has the title as of right now.  He seemed to outsmart defenses with slick moves up the field and it seems he really wants that job.  Remember, it’s important because Arian Foster‘s health is always up in the air.  Grimes racked up 39 yards off 10 carries.  Also, the Texans cut Andre Brown, Dennis Johnson and Tim Cornett earlier this week and brought in veteran running back Ronnie Brown as well as plug-and-play RB William Powell.  Expect Ronnie Brown to make a strong case of why he should be on this team backing up Foster.  Grimes has a lot of work to do but he has an important thing working for him — youth.  But it’s experience that sometimes wins out in these situations.  Rookie RB Alfred Blue is also in the mix so sit back and relax to watch this one!

DEFENSE (FRONT 7):  The interesting battle is for the linebacker that will help cover the weak side; and, as of right now, the victor is Jeff Tarpanian who had four tackles and two assists last week.  Newly acquired LB Akeem Dent is on the mend from an ankle injury sustained earlier this year.  He recently had missed some time in training camp with a separate undisclosed injury but is now ready to go.  He is known for quickness and is known for making smart decisions with coverage and can plugged into special teams as well.  It will be intriguing to see him taking a couple of snaps as well.  Brian Cushing was activated from the PUP list so he would be a nice complement to the line.

SPECIAL TEAMS:  We had a big donut hole last week and that means that our once-beleaguered place kicker Randy Bullock did have any opportunity to kick.  He might get that chance this game because we may have to kick to keep ourselves within striking distance.  Keep an eye on the progess of Mike Thomas as he evolves in the role of the punt/kick returner.  Shane Lechler continues to shine as he has done for all of his career.  When things weren’t so rosy last season, one could rely on Lechler to make the environment at least favorable to succeed regardless of what happened on ensuing plays after his punts.

The Atlanta Falcons are a quality team and will not back down in a corner.  This match up will be a lot different and we’ll need everyone firing on all cylinders to ensure victory.

The Texans can do it — I’m faithful of their success!

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CDT and the game can be seen on ABC/Channel 13 (KTRK) and will be broadcast on 610 SportsRadio AM/100.3 FM (KILT).

Go Texans!

 

 

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