In their first preseason game, the Texans emerged victorious against the Carolina Panthers, 26-13. Many of the Texans’ role players had a great performance, while the starters struggled during the first few possessions of the game. Let’s take a look at some of these players.
Foster had one carry in the game, a nifty 11 yard dash that ended in a lost fumble when Panthers rookie Luke Kuechly knocked the ball out of his hands from behind. Foster lost three fumbles last season and while this one carry is no indicator of his ability to hold the football, let’s hope it isn’t the start of a trend reminiscent of the Steve Slaton era.
It was Matt Schaub’s first game action since his season ended nine months ago to a lisfranc injury. On their first possession, Schaub completed three passes for 52 yards but the Texans were unable to find the end zone and settled for a 20-yard field goal from Shayne Graham. On the subsequent possession after Arian Foster’s fumble, Schaub threw a bad pass while facing pressure that was easily picked off by Jason Phillips. Texans fans have become accustomed to throws like this in the past, but after such a long hiatus from full contact football, we can attribute this to shaking off the rust.
K-Mart has already captured the faith of Texans fans, as he has been the standout player at training camp. Martin caught two passes for 24 yards and had a speedy 12-yard rush on a reverse. His route running is crisp and has great hands. Don’t be surprised if he rises to the #2 receiver spot behind Andre Johnson sooner than later.
Holliday was the star of the game. At 5 foot 5, he displayed blazing speed that resulted in a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter of the game. He largely went untouched on the run, and displayed similar speed on a 33-yard kickoff return from 9 yards back in the end zone.
The Texans’ defense didn’t miss a beat, sacking the quarterback 8 times last night. First round pick Whitney Mercilus had 1.5 sacks in the game, a great debut for the rookie out of Illinois. The secondary didn’t give up many big plays and secured an interception through the heads up play of safety Troy Nolan. Nolan wrestled the ball away from Panther’s receiver Seyi Ajirotutu as the ball was on his stomach.
The rookie kicker had a great debut, nailing a 52-yard field goal with much more room to spare. The kickers job is all but his to loose and if he keeps nailing long field goals, he may quickly become one of the more prominent kickers in the league.
While the starters struggled with the back-to-back turnovers in the first quarter, it really isn’t time to panic. Texans fans can take solace in the fact that the reserves performed admirably, as the starters will get better as their reps increase. After all, the preseason serves as an opportunity to evaluate non-starters, while easing the starters into game day shape.
By Gary Wang
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