Texans-Cardinals, NFL Preseason Week 1: Five Players to Watch

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Important first preseason game for these guys.
Depending on who you are, NFL preseason games can serve any number of purposes.

For some fans (and talk-show hosts who need five hours of radio content every weekday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.), they serve as a celebration that football has finally returned, that we survived the two weeks of the calendar year where there is only Astros baseball to discuss around the water cooler, and that we now have (another) reason to drink beer!

For other fans, they serve as an opportunity to remind everyone how "screwed over" they are for having to pay full boat ticket prices for a meaningless exhibition-caliber product (ignoring the fact that Texans fans have generally been paying for meaningless exhibitions by the time December rolls around almost every year since 2002).

The latter is usually followed by the complainer voluntarily scratching out a check AGAIN for season tickets, so let's not shed too many tears for the poor people who fail to understand capitalism and free-market concepts.

But I digress.

For players, the preseason can mean anything from a chance to tune up a few things to literally fighting for their NFL lives. For the Texans and the Cardinals this Saturday night, in the first competitive football outing of the Bill O'Brien era, let's home in briefly on Texans players to watch, with both categories represented:

5. Safety D.J. Swearinger
In last season's preseason opener against the Vikings, in the first action of his rookie year, Swearinger tried to come up and make a big hit on Vikings running back Zach Line on a dump pass out of the backfield. On a play that merely needed a benign form tackle, Swearinger went for the explosive highlight play, overcommitted and missed, and Line (who will never be confused with Adrian Peterson) took it to the house for a 61-yard touchdown. That was a harbinger of things to come for Swearinger, who endured an up-and-down rookie year in 2013. One of the keys to this defense retaking its place among the league's elite, the maturation of Swearinger, his ability to know when to make a play and when to make a PLAY, will be a point of interest throughout the preseason.

4. Outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus
When the depth chart was released on Wednesday, there weren't a ton of great talking points (I did manage to find seven of them), but the most discussed placement of any veteran player had to be former first-round pick Mercilus's being slotted second string behind rookie Jadeveon Clowney at outside linebacker, who hasn't practiced in about a week and will likely play little, if at all, Saturday. Mercilus is heading into a hugely important year for his future as it will be up to the Texans to decide whether or not to exercise his fifth-year option (a decent guaranteed pay day) after the 2014 season. He needs to find some consistency, especially considering he should be in one-on-one battles all season long with J.J. Watt and Clowney drawing double teams routinely.


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4 comments
markie19
markie19 topcommenter


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MikeC
MikeC

Sean, looks like you have quite the fan club.


Regardless of how Savage is progressing...if the Texans wave Savage, Houston will implode. After the 2013 draft class debacle, I don't expect many drafted players waved this year.


Keenum has shown his cards IMO.  He didn't improve one bit during the season last year.  There still isn't a blitz that he's recognized pre snap.  The one thing Keenum showed Houston was how important it is to stretch the field and extend a play.  He did do that from time to time, but when any wrinkle was thrown his way, he would look bad.



Barack_Scahub
Barack_Scahub

Riddle me this? Why do you immediately jump to discussing Savage being cut? And then there's this: "I think this is more damning for Keenum than it is high praise for the development of Savage."

Translation: Pender-gas-bag is still butt-hurt that the Texans didn't draft Johnny Douche, so he has to take out his frustrations on Tom Savage. Have you considered that Savage might actually be in the process of eclipsing Keenum as 2nd QB? And not because Keenum is all that bad, but because Savage may  be better than you're willing to give him credit for? Have you considered the fact that Savage has a genuine NFL QB frame and arm? Maybe he won't be cut for those reasons, not just because he was a 4th round pick.

I know, I know, you'd be more willing to listen to reason if Savage sported a money phone or straddled a swan... but I digress.

Truly,  I'm wasting my time. Since I didn't present my argument in the form of a Game of Thrones or Sopranos analogy, I doubt your pea-brain will comprehend.

Carry on, idiot.

sean.pendergast
sean.pendergast

@Barack_Scahub Ha ha, thanks for clicking. (Also, I've been to nearly every practice. Trust me, it's Keenum sucking, not Savage closing the gap, Barack.)

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