Texans 26, Panthers 13: Five Things We Learned
Patriots 7, Saints 6.
So the Texans' thorough road dismantling of a capable Carolina team may not signal much, particularly considering most first-teamers played less than a quarter. Any judgments on eventual team success will wait until the next two weeks, when starters will presumably play two-to-three quarters against heavyweights San Francisco and New Orleans.
That said, the play of individuals and some units can prove telling. In the 2011 exhibition opener, then-unknown rookie quarterback T.J. Yates showed poise beyond his years in rallying the Texans to a late win over the Jets.
Five months and two injuries later, Yates guided the Texans to the first playoff win in team history.
Here's a look at several standouts from the 2012 preseason debut.
5.) The kicking competition that isn't.
In the absence of Neil Rackers, it's understandable why the Texans brought in veteran placekicker Shayne Graham to "compete" with rookie draftee and former Aggie Randy Bullock. On a Super Bowl contender, head coach Gary Kubiak and general manager Rick Smith don't want any position to be decided without competition, especially with unproven talent.
But this is Bullock's job to lose, and he doesn't appear likely to do that. Kickers are rarely drafted, so when they are, the team has high hopes and plans on them making the roster. Bullock went 2-of-2 on both extra points and field goals on Saturday, including a 52-yarder drilled straight down the middle that would've been good from 60. Field goals beyond 40 yards were an adventure for the Texans last year, and it caught up to them with a crucial miss in the playoff loss to Baltimore. With Bullock, it shouldn't happen again.
4.) Matt Schaub looks healthy.
After his Lisfranc foot fracture, some wondered if Schaub would fully regain his mobility for use in Kubiak's bootleg-heavy system. So far, so good
In six attempts, Schaub rolled out on three occasions, once eluding a defender and routinely throwing off his repaired plant foot with full velocity. Much was made of the interception on his final attempt, in which a hit caused the ball to flutter and land in the lap of Carolina linebacker Jason Phillips. The most noteworthy aspect of the play, at least to me, wasn't the interception -- because Schaub probably would have tossed the ball away if the stakes were higher. For me, it was that Schaub took his first big hit and bounced right back up. For a Texans' team that needs Schaub healthy to be Super Bowl caliber, it was a welcome sight.