Sean Pendergast

Houston Texans Snap Count Curiosities in Loss at Denver

Dameon Pierce got the lion's share of running back carries on Sunday, thankfully.
Dameon Pierce got the lion's share of running back carries on Sunday, thankfully. Photo by Jack Gorman
Two days later, it's still mildly infuriating to look back at Sunday and see the Texans unable to capitalize on a slew of Denver mistakes and pull off what would have been the upset of the weekend in Week 2. I mean, the head coach of the other team routinely couldn't get plays in from the sideline in time to where the crowd was counting down the play clock to help him, he burned all three second half timeouts by midway through the fourth quarter, and at one point trotted his punt return team out there with no return guy.

Yet, in the eyes of his players, this was still enough to warrant giving Nathaniel Hackett a game ball for his first career win:
Incredible. Proof that it's better to be lucky (and have a dad who's a coaching lifer) than good. We will be moving onto Week 3 and the Chicago Bears beginning tomorrow, but first, a few relevant Texans items to clean up from the loss to the Broncos. To the snap count sheet we go!  Here are the official snap counts for Texans players from Sunday:
And now a few observations:

They're getting closer to getting the Dameon Pierce situation correct
In Week 1, veteran running back Rex Burkhead received the majority of the snaps at tailback, 50 in total. Inexplicably, rookie Dameon Pierce, who was the toast of training camp, got just 20 snaps. Head coach Lovie Smith, to his credit, recognized that mistake almost immediately after the Colts' tie ended, and rectified it on Sunday against Denver, with Pierce getting 62 percent of the snaps, and Burkhead 37 percent, a practical 180 degree flip from Week 1. More importantly, Pierce got 15 carries and Burkhead got none.

Kenyon Green has fully taken over at left guard
It was a mildly slow burn arriving at this point, but here we are — Kenyon Green is your starting left guard. The rookie first round pick out of Texas A&M missed a large chunk of training camp with a concussion, and didn't see game action until the third game of the preseason. He split snaps with Justin McCray in Week 1, but it was evident from that game that Green is ready for a full workload. He still has areas of his game that need improvement, especially in pass protection, but this was the right move. All five starting offensive linemen played 100 percent of the snaps against Denver.

The secondary, by and large, continues to be an exclusive club of four men
Similar to the offensive line, over on the defensive side of the ball, the secondary remains a fairly excessive club. In Week 1, regardless of what defensive personnel grouping the Texans were in, CB Steven Nelson, CB Derek Stingley, S Jalen Pitre, and S Jonathan Owens played every single snap. In Week 2, those same four played every single snap, except for three snaps where Stingley left briefly with a leg issue. It will be interesting to see how the two rookies, Stingley and Pitre, hold up over the course of the season, given Stingley's injury issues at LSU in 2020 and 2021, and given how much tackling Pitre is being asked to do in run support around the line of scrimmage.

Add one more rookie making his debut
While rookies like Stingley, Pitre, and Green are playing every snap, another rookie found his way into the defensive rotation for the first time. Defensive tackle Thomas Booker got in the game for 31 percent of the snaps on Sunday. That makes seven rookies who have now seen regular season action — Pierce, Stingley, Pitre, Green, Booker, defensive lineman Kurt Hinish and fullback Troy Hairston.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast