Houston Texans Game A -- 4 Winners, 4 Losers
Yes, we are indeed ready for some football.
Photos by Marco Torres
There are certain things in life that even when they're bad by their standards, they're still pretty decent by society's standards. Pizza, sex with an attractive partner, the last couple seasons of The Office, to name a few examples.
I would add NFL football to that mix. (Hell, I'd even beer-goggle my way into putting professional football in general -- Canadian, Arena -- into the conversation.)
So with that said, let me say that I enjoyed last night's Texans-Jets game, even if (like bad sex) it was tedious, undeniably sloppy and saved by an exciting finish. It was bad football, which is still unquestionably better than no football at all.
And even though the final score was meaningless in the grand universe of NFL scores (I know this because on the pallet of season tickets, the preseason games don't even get a number. They are Game A and Game B), they hold meaning for anybody outside of the surefire starters on the team.
Therefore, Game A must have winners and losers for the Texans. Here are four of each:
1. Chris Ogbonnaya If you're a young player (Ogbonnaya is two years into his career) and you're looking to land a spot on an NFL roster after getting bounced around a bit (He spent a season and a half in St. Louis before landing on the Texans practice squad last season), then it couldn't line up any better in terms of opportunity than it is for Ogbonnaya. Three backs in front of him (Arian Foster, Ben Tate, Steve Slaton) all missed last night's game with hamstring injuries, and on top of that last night's starter, Derrick Ward, was knocked out of the game early. The result was Ogbonnaya getting 37 tough yards receiving, leading the team in receiving (6 catches, 67 yards), and a couple touchdowns. Steve Slaton probably needs to start scouring depth charts around the league.
2. Bryan Braman For those of you who don't know Braman's story, he played football at West Texas A&M University and his senior year was cut short by an arrest for growing hallucinogenic mushrooms. Now, if he were signed by the Bengals, they'd have probably already retired Braman's number. However, this is the Texans and it's an interesting "cultural" reach for them to take someone with baggage/mistakes in his background. So far, so good in making it look like a smart decision -- 6 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3 QB hits last night. I think I speak for all Texan fans when I say that if Braman wants to freebase in the locker room, that's fine as long as he can rush the passer.
3. Lestar Jean Say it with me -- Le-STAR Jeeeeen. There will almost definitely be a rookie or two that makes the team at wide receiver. Based solely on name value, I had been batting around Terrence Tolliver and Jeff Maehl as the strongest possibilities, but the undrafted rookie Jean (out of Florida Atlantic, which is why you're like "Who??") passes the eyeball test (big, strong), likes to block (key in the Kubes offense) and made a big play down the stretch (near touchdown to win the game). All of a sudden, Jean leads the "Undrafted Rookie Free Agent Wide Receiver" power rankings.
4. Doctor Wade The defense still gave up some gashing runs up the middle, the secondary still gave up too many little slant routes in the middle of the field, and if Michael Campbell holds onto a deep ball from Greg McElroy with a minute to go in the game, the Texans probably lose 23-20, but still the big key to getting the Texans from awful to average defensively is finding a pass rush. They had seven sacks (they had eight all of last preseason) and hit the quarterback 17 times. I don't care if it was reserves doing it, it was guys in Texans uniforms. Good enough for me, one preseason game in.
1. Derrick Townsel Townsel is a guy who spent some time on the Texans at the end of last season when they decided to shut down Andre Johnson and David Anderson. A speed guy who can also work the middle of the field, the amount of youth at the receiver position (and need for a deep threat) would indicate he's got a great opportunity. Well, in the fourth quarter, Townsel got behind the defense, T.J. Yates laid a ball out there for him, and he seemed to pull up or slow down or something. Regardless, it was a catchable ball that would have required a semi-spectacular play to haul in. The kind of play that can secure a roster spot. If Townsel ends up not making the team, he'll remember that play.
2. Matt Leinart He wasn't horrible, but he wasn't the second coming of Steve Young that we'd heard about in practice. More like the second coming of Steve DeBerg. A poor man's version. The stats looked okay (8 of 14 for 78 yards, one touchdown, one pick), but he didn't throw the ball down the field well, if at all, and the pick came off of a batted pass (symptomatic sometimes of being locked in on one receiver, a Leinart staple). All in all, not the kind of performance that makes you think the Texans could weather Matt Schaub being knocked out for a few weeks.
3. Special teams Maybe we need to wait and see if Trindon Holliday can give the unit a spark (scary thought), and the fact that I just said those words says all you need to know about the Texans return units. Fifteen yards per kick return, four yards per punt return. The Texans are the one team that is getting a favor when opponents kick the ball into the end zone for a touchback on kickoffs.
4. Jersey guys For this game, I decided to sit in the regular stands, as opposed to the press box. The best part of sitting out amongst the people is seeing all of the grown adults wearing Texan jerseys with made up, customized names on them. (I'm already very shaky on adults wearing jerseys at all, but I realize it's not going anywhere any time soon.) If any of you sport the following jerseys (all spotted last night at Reliant), please feel free to tell me why in the comments section below:
-- KONCEPT 1 -- UR DADDY 7 -- HEINICKIN 8 -- THUMPER 65 -- Or the couple wearing matching jorts, matching HOUSTON 32 jerseys, both of them tucked in. Brutal.
Click here for a slideshow of last night's game.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on Yahoo! Sports Radio (Sirius 94, XM 208) and on 1560 The Game, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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