There's sort of an "it is what it is" attitude when it comes to preseason football in the NFL. More and more, the games are becoming backdrop to the hardcore evaluation that goes on in practices, inter squad and otherwise. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the Texans' 21-20 loss to the Rams in Week 3 of the preseason on Saturday night, and it had nothing to do with the game itself.
A year ago last night, I was doing the postgame show on SportsRadio 610 for the Texans' 13-0 loss to the Saints in New Orleans, on the 19th floor of 24 Greenway Plaza, watching the fury of Hurricane Harvey roll in on our city. The next four days were spent in those studios talking zero about sports, and instead providing round-the-clock coverage of the worst disaster our city has ever seen.
So, needless to say, it was nice to be able to walk out of those same studios Saturday night, dry, safe, and going home to my own bed. And it was nice to talk about a pretty meaningless preseason game on the radio without wondering if my car and home were underwater. Saturday, preseason loss be damned, was a much better day than Saturday a year ago, for all of us.
Let's look at winners and losers from Saturday's game.....
4. J.J. Watt's lower extremities
Itr was only a small handful of plays, but Watt carried over the performance we saw in the practices against the 49ers into Saturday's games against the Rams. He is moving phenomenally well, and to his (very funny) point below, came off the field under his own power!
3. General team health
This time last preseason, the Texans were dealing with a sea of injuries on the offensive side of the ball, and with Watt's calculated return from back surgery. This preseason — knock on so much wood right now — has gone nearly perfectly from a health standpoint, with Jadeveon Clowney, Keke Coutee, and Martinas Rankin all returning from injuries last week. About the only question marks heading into the regular season now are the timeframe for D'Onta Foreman's return from last season's Achilles tear and clarity on whatever has been ailing Whitney Mercilus. The Texans should head to New England for Week 1 at practically full strength.
2. Braxton Miller
Miller had a nice touchdown catch on Saturday night, and, like the Niners game, played a boatload of snaps. He's seen time at all three wide receiver spots this preseason, which is material under the O'Brien regime, seeing how the Texans' head coach loves that versatility. I know people are frustrated with Miller's slow development, and many of you are expecting him to be among the cuts this coming Friday. I'm not so sure. I think the Texans still see something in Braxton Miller.
1. Vyncint Smith
If you're looking to bet on a long shot surprise to make the 53-man roster, maybe it's Smith, who's looked very capable this preseason. He added onto his game winning touchdown from last week with a 43-yard catch to set up the potential tying touchdown on Saturday night. It's more likely Smith winds up on the practice squad, but if he had a better pedigree than "undrafted rookie," the team might feel invested enough in him to make him the fifth or sixth wide receiver with the way he's played.
4. Nick Rose
I'm guessing Ka'imi Fairbairn is going to be the Texans' placekicker when they travel to New England for Week 1 of the regular season, and that this whole Nick Rose thing the last two weeks has just been a chance for Rose to lay out some film for teams while Fairbairn gets healthy. If that's the case, Rose has missed out on an opportunity. He missed a PAT in the Niners game, then boinked a 28 yarder off the upright on Saturday. However, all of that badness could have been wiped out had he nailed the 57-yard attempt to win the game against the Rams. Alas, it had the leg, but went wide right. Life comes down to a few moments. Nick Rose may have found that out the hard way on Saturday.
3. The Alfred Blue "haters"
Of all the positions on the Texans, the one whose depth after the starter terrifies me the most is the running back position. I'm assuming D'Onta Foreman is going to start the season on the PUP list, which means he is gone until Week 7, at least. SO after Lamar Miller, the depth chart reads "Alfred Blue, Troymaine Pope, and a few undrafted rookies." The problem with Alfred Blue is that 90 percent of the time, he is wholly unspectacular, even mediocre. But that other 10 percent, where he looks like a capable NFL running back, that's what's kept him employed. So it should be no surprise that a week before final cuts, he busts out with 45 yards on five carries, including a 36-yard run. Alfred Blue, ladies and gentlemen. He is never going anywhere. This poll from Greg Rajan of the Houston Chronicle sums it up well...
2. Brock Osweiler
Presented without comment.....
1. Urban Meyer
The sentence for Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer's harboring a domestic abuser for the last decade, going back to his days at Florida, has been handed down — Meyer will be suspended for three games to start this football season. That's it. Above and beyond that, Meyer issued a public statement on Wednesday night that was couched as an apology, but looked more like a hostage video, in which someone was pointing a gun at him off screen.
Of course, disingenuous apology aside, the part of this fiasco that got the most attention was the complete lack of remorse shown for Courtney Smith, ex-wife of his wife-beating, now former assistant coach Zack Smith. So, just as he had to do after he lied at Big Ten Media Day about his knowledge of Smith's abusive past, Meyer had to issue another statement to clean up his own mess....
PREDICTION: The head coach of the Ohio State football program in 2019 will not be named Urban Meyer. Either some other scandal will arise, or Meyer will pull out the exhaustion card like he did at Florida in 2010, but one way or another, he will not be the coach after this season. Meyer's vaunted "core values" have been exposed as fraudulent. The emperor has no clothes.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.