This Thursday the Dallas Cowboys will welcome our little brothers, the Houston Texans, to the Death Star. Even though this is the least meaningful of all preseason games, some of the folks in my neck of the woods (Pasadena, Tx) talk like this is the biggest game they will play all year. That might be true for those guys fighting for their football lives.
This week I am going to depart from my normal format, and focus more on what fans will actually get an opportunity to see happening on the field. There is no reason to look at the expected starters, because we all know that this is their week to watch some football from the sidelines. Instead, this week's edition will look at some guys that should actually take the field.
T J Yates vs Case Keenum takes center stage
Even though rumblings are being heard among some fans in Bayou City that Matt Schaub may not be the guy who can bring a Super Bowl win to Houston, right now the bigger question is "Who will be Schaub's backup for 2013?" The contenders are T J Yates, who as a third string rookie in 2011 led the Texans to their first ever playoff win, and Case Keenum. A second year guy, Keenum was an undrafted free agent out of the University of Houston. He threw for nearly 20,000 as a six-year college QB. He was redshirted as a freshman and was awarded a second medical redshirt when he tore an ACL early in his "senior" season. Head Coach Gary Kubiak has not made a final decision on who his second quarterback will be, so the final preseason game will be the final audition for the position. Although both men split reps with the second team in the Texans dress rehearsal game against the Saints, speculation is that T J Yates has pulled somewhat ahead in the competition.
Running to save a career
Beyond Arian Foster and Ben Tate the Texans have former Colts and Jaguars running back Deji Karim battling against UDFA rookies for the third slot. In his third season, Karim has 98 career carries for 290 yards, all during his time in Jacksonville. Dennis Johnson and Cierre Wood have both shown flashes during training camp. As of right now Kubiak seems to be leaning toward Karim, but all three backs should get opportunities to earn the third, and perhaps a fourth, running back slot. Deepi Sidhu gives us a look at that she calls a "quartet" of running backs battling for the third string job over at the Texans mothership. (Please let me know if you can find a fourth member of her "quartet.)
Up for grabs
Beyond Andre Johnson, whom father time is beginning to slow down, and rookie DeAndre Hopkins, have second year player Keyshawn Martin and DeVier Posey who are pretty much roster locks and a battle for the fifth and final slot at wide receiver. The likely contenders are Lestar Jean, who brings veteran experience to the team and sixth round draft pick Alan Bonner, who has sky high potential but also suffers from a case of mattjohnsonitis. Alec Lemon will also come in to the game with a chance at stealing the fifth slot. Quite honestly, my take on this battle is that none of these guys would threaten Cole Beasley's job if they were in Dallas.
In the middle of it all
The Texans defense has two guys that look like they are in contention for the final slot at inside linebacker. The leading contender is Tim Dobbins, who is a Wade Phillips guy. Mike Kerns at Rant Sports, never my favorite source, summed up Dobbins this way:
Wade Phillips loves him and he has the experience in the system. This will be his third year with the Texans, and he has never really played poorly enough not to get the benefit of the doubt on being assured a roster spot when he re-signed on the cheap.
The other potential guy is Mike Mohammad, a former Bronco and Jaguar, "never fully got a chance to play". He is a guy who made both teams practice squads but was later released by both teams.
The best part of this pending match up is that Dallas fans stand a chance of getting to "boo" Stephen McGee one more time. He is on the Texans roster as of right now, though that could change before Thursday night.
Actually, the battle between the QBs could be a good one to watch, unfortunately for them, a lot of their weapons are guys who would not be in the conversation in Dallas. Either way Kubiak intends to keep both on the roster, so it is not make or break for either man.