Texans-Saints: 4 Winners, 4 Losers (Governor Christie's Pants Edition)
They say the third preseason game is the one that's supposed to most closely resemble a regular season game. With most of the starters (the available ones, at least) playing a full half, the game against the Saints Sunday was supposed to give Texan fans a decent glimpse at what's in store for 2013.
Of course, Gary Kubiak's squad was missing Ed Reed, Wade Smith, and Whitney Mercilus due to injury, Antonio Smith due to suspension, and Arian Foster, DeAndre Hopkins, and J.J. Watt due to caution.
So we'll hang the 17-16 halftime deficit, the myriad of mistakes in the red zone, and the final score of Saints 31, Texans 23 on the fact that this only looked "kinda sorta" like a real Texans game. That's the healthy and convenient way to look at it.
As always, winners and losers abounded. Here are a few...
4. Ben Tate
Tate is one of the more intriguing guys on the team in that I can't think of a guy in a contract year who has less of a chance of returning to his team regardless of the type of year he may have. Think about it. If he sucks, he's gone. If he has a great season, he'll get paid by someone else. Even if something career ending happened to Arian Foster, there's no chance they'd pay Tate what someone else would if he had a big year. (I just don't think they fully trust him enough to pay him.) All of that is a precursor to say that Sunday Tate was an eyelash away from being on the shit list with an early fumble that he was able to fall on. Instead, he then went off for 74 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown. Solid day for the Texans number two running back, and in a weird way a perfect microcosm for why he just can't be totally trusted.
By the way, at this point, Deji Karim would probably need to willingly hand the ball to the Cowboys three or four times in the preseason finale and then leave the building in a convertible with Rhonda Kubiak riding shotgun to lose the number three running back spot. He got the majority of the carries among the backs not named Foster or Tate again on Sunday, and is still easily the best special teamer of the bunch.
Revised third RB Big Board looks like this:
Deji Karim -750
Dennis Johnson +500
Cierre Wood +600
Ray Graham +4000
3. Randy Bullock
Three field goals (48, 55, and 21 yards) and multiple kickoffs for touchbacks -- yes, I feel stupid for being aghast that Kubiak chose not to bring in a veteran kicker to compete with Bullock. Part of a long list of reasons I feel stupid. Daily.
2. Jared Crick
With the black elbow brace, and the bulky, corn fed Causcasin frame, and the jersey number with the 9 as the first digit, there was almost a "fake Diesel/fake Razor Ramon" thing going on with Jared Crick as it pertains to J.J. Watt. Add to that the fact that Crick actually got to Drew Brees for a sack (finishing move!), and it was full on gimmick infringement! Of course, I'm now waiting for First Take on ESPN tomorrow to propose that perhaps J.J. Watt is a product of the system. Sigh.
1. T.J. Yates
As much as the city of Houston is hoping to mentally will Case Keenum to the backup job (Actually, to be clear, a big chunk of Houston is trying to mentally will him to the starter's job, but that's another story for another time.), Yates has done not a single thing to lose it, and on Sunday, if anything, he solidified his hold on the backup role with another stellar outing (7 of 9 for 73 yards and a touchdown) juxtaposed to a decent but unspectacular day from Keenum (10 of 14 for 79 yards and a stalled drive at the end of the game). Yates will need to put up a real clunker in Dallas to get demoted to number three.