It's the final game of the 2011 preseason tonight with the Texans' backups taking on the Minnesota Vikings' backups in the newly inflatable-roofed Metrodome. If you're the Texans, I suppose the good news is that you're traveling to Minnesota in September and not December.
If you're a Texans backup or fringe player, the REALLY good news is that this is your final chance to make an impression that will get you a spot on the 53-man roster (or for some, the eight-man practice squad).
So come next week, the staff will make some decisions, notify the players and send out a press release announcing the two dozen or so lives that have just been altered. Personally, I'd like to see them do it American Idol-style with Wade, Kubes and Rick Smith sitting at a table in the locker room telling guys how horrible they are before cutting them loose.
Naturally, the ones who are told "Guess what?...You're going to HOUSTON!!!" would run out of the locker room and hug their families while crying and jumping up and down like a giddy schoolgirl. This would work, I promise you.
In the meantime, here's a few things to look for tonight in a game that means something for a handful of aspiring NFL players and degenerate gamblers:
5. Something, ANYTHING from the Texans wide receivers
For a team that's supposed to have an elite or near elite level offense, I can't figure out if the wide receivers are underwhelming, unknown or a combination of the two. Kevin Walter is fine as a second receiver. My feelings on Jacoby Jones were documented earlier this week -- love his energy, love his swagger, but he botches too many routine plays and doesn't make up for it by making ANY non-routine plays.
Seeing a five-catch, 80-something yard game out of Dorin Dickerson would be a really nice Excedrin for the wide receiver headache. (In other words, some temporary relief to what may or may not be a recurring problem.) The Kubiak offense is one big symbiotic organism and my fear with the passing game is if Arian Foster's hammie is a problem, or Owen Daniels gets dinged up again, the lack of playmaking outside will get exposed.
4. Arian Foster's Twitter account
If you're a Texans public relations person or in management with the Texans, Foster has had a troubling Twitter week, first taking a swipe at fantasy football players' "concern" about his injury and then tweeting a picture of his hamstring MRI. If you're, you know, on Twitter, then Arian Foster has had an amaaaazzzing Twitter week. Foster will not be making the trip to Minneapolis, which means he'll be idling away the hours, presumably with his iPhone in hand. Really hoping for a Delonte West moment out of Arian...
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3. Matt Leinart's physical welfare
The reports out of the early practice sessions made it sound like Leinart appeared to be a poor man's Steve Young circa 1994, to the point where ProFootballTalk.com actually surmised that there could be a quarterback controversy if the Texans got off to a slow start. Since then, Leinart has looked pedestrian, but to be fair it's mostly because the offensive line has protected him about as well as a blocking sled, and to be ultra-fair to the offensive line, because of injuries, it's been mostly third-stringers and fringe second-stringers in front of Leinart. Keeping him upright for a few quarters would be nice. 2. Final impressions
Quick reference guide for final roster spot battles to watch: -- Fourth running back: Steve Slaton vs Chris Ogbonnaya -- Cornerback crunch: Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, Jason Allen, Brice McCain, Brandon Harris all appear to be in. Sherrick McManis and Rock Carmichael probably both stick around in some fashion. (Carmichael may come up with a mysterious "blood disorder" in the next few days.) -- Wide receiver: Dorin Dickerson may be safe, just because numbers are slim. After that, does Bryant Johnson make the team? Does Terrence Toliver or Jeff Maehl make the practice squad? Do they even go with more than four wide receivers? -- Tight end: Will Anthony Hill make the team? What body part will break on him? Can you really carry four tight ends and James Casey? If they do keep him, how soon until Hoarders shows up to talk about Kubiak's addiction to tight ends? -- Tim Bulman: We need a chowd on this team.
1. GOOD GAWD ALMIGHTY, THAT'S BRETT FAVRE'S THEME MUSIC!
Does anybody else think there's an outside chance that Favre could do a run-in sometime in the first quarter, throw his finishing move (the aptly named "Dong Shot") on Christian Ponder, Joe Webb, and a street-clothed Donovan McNabb then grab the mic and announce "I'M BACK!" to a partially filled stadium of thunderous boos? Yeah, me too.
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.