March 19, 2018

The Rundown: Miami Edition

The Houston Texans wrapped up their second preseason game with a 24-17 win over the Miami Dolphins. The stats and record did not count, but the plays on the field did and they will help shape the roster as the preseason moves on. There were plenty of storylines and none bigger than the backup quarterback situation.

Some familiar faces showed up for the Texans and there were some new ones vying for a spot on the team in some capacity. There are always questions after each game and this game opened some new issues to pay attention to with half the preseason finished.


The Rundown: Miami

– Rookie safety D.J. Swearinger had a much better game than his debut last week. He looked much more confident in the secondary and kept everything in front of him. If anything, he played under control and made the most of his second preseason game. Swearinger also had a dangerous hit on tight end Dustin Keller which may have put him out for the season. He has shown that he is not afraid to play physical and with the safety situation it looks like he will get increased time before Ed Reed returns.

– Wide receiver Keshawn Martin finally looked the part and put together a good game. He caught 4 passes and looked good with the run after the catch. This was the player that has been showing up during training camp and it finally translated to the field. Having another weapon on the field will only help the offense and the step that Martin took Saturday night might be exactly what he needed to elevate his game.

– All the quarterbacks looked solid once again but the attention was put on Case Keenum and T.J. Yates. Both Keenum and Yates did not disappoint when they took the field and they combined for 18 of 27 for 234 yards and 2 touchdowns. Keenum was in command of the offense and made some smart decisions with the football. He showed touch and actually pushed the ball downfield to his wide receivers, which was highlighted by a nice 4th down pass for a 38 yard touchdown to Lestar Jean. Yates answered that call and was highly efficient behind a make shift offensive line. He took some hits in the pocket and stood tall and delivered some accurate passes. The two made the preseason game a push when it comes to the “backup” quarterback situation.

– Speaking of Lestar Jean, he woke up and made a huge touchdown catch from Keenum on a nice double move route. He only had two catches but when he shows flashes of big plays he will make it tough when it comes to final cuts. He has been up and down this season and after a rough game littered with drops last week, Jean showed up in a big way.

– Nose Tackle Terrell McClain might have won himself a roster spot with another strong outing. He caused a fumble and was a tough block for the Dolphins’ offensive line. After producing against lesser competition last week, McClain got his opportunity to get the next call after Earl Mitchell, and he showed that he has plenty left after the “bust” label was given to him in Carolina.

Deji Karim threw his name into the hat for the third running back position and he led the Texans in rushing with 55 yards and 6.1 yards a carry. He also showed he can pass protect when needed and put together some solid runs to set up the play action passing game. Karim’s value is added with his return ability, and for a one year plug at the third running back position it could help in the short term.

– Dennis Johnson seems to have lost the confidence he had when he came into training camp. He has lost his feel for the zone running scheme and had two fumbles on the evening. He is not making people miss in the open field and doesn’t look comfortable with the ball in his hands. The clock is ticking on the rookie and looks to have been passed up by Karim for the third running back spot.

– It was a small sample size but Sam Montgomery looked the part at outside linebacker.  His strength is evident and he is able to shed blockers, but he has to work on his pass rush game. This was his first real action of the preseason, and pretty much the season, so it will be a process for the rookie but he has all the tools to be successful.

– Trevardo Williams showed what made him successful in college, his speed. There is a reason to be cautious about his evening, especially with the sacks. Both were effort plays, but they came off of him not being blocked and the other was when the left tackle fell down in pass protection. Those are plays that an NFL linebacker should make in those situations.

– It looks like Brice McCain is still trying to get back what made him successful two years ago. He has been playing in chase mode in the slot covering wide receivers and just looks uncomfortable. If the Texans want to take the step in the secondary, they need McCain to play better. Also, Brandon Harris made his first appearance for the Texans this season and he put together a solid game. Harris played cornerback and filled in at safety, which is a good thing for him on this team. He had one bad penalty on a high hit to a defenseless receiver, but he played good coverage on the outside. Having Harris being able to play both positions could help with roster decisions closing in on the first week.

– The return of Brian Cushing was a sight to see, especially with him walking out the tunnel during player introductions. His night didn’t start off well after he was pancaked by a Dolphins’ offensive lineman on the first play of the game, but then he showed some flashes of his old self. He made a nice open field tackle on a screen pass and missed a sack but him being active was a good thing for the defense.

– Antonio Smith had a little extra fire this week and he started off the defense in the right direction with a nice quarterback sack on Ryan Tannehill. Smith played against a familiar face in Richie Incognito and it resulted in some more “Tom Foolery”. He played fast and is looking ready for the season with the over a quarter of play he gave to the defense.

– Fullback Greg Jones got off to a slow start and had trouble lead blocking against the Dolphins. He was getting the punch brought to him instead of delivering the blow to linebackers. Jones has been brought along slow and missed some practice during camp to preserve the fullback and the rust was evident last night.

–  DeAndre Hopkins had an interesting night capped off with a “head injury” that knocked him out of the game. Hopkins also got plenty from veteran corner Brent Grimes who played the rookie physical and intercepted a pass intended for him. There will be growing pains for the rookie and last night was an example. The ability is there and he will help out the offense and it was evident what he does when he is on the field. He opens up many more options for the Texans in terms of on field weapons.

– Garrett Graham has shown his value for this team the past two preseason games and was a big factor in the passing game last night. He had a nice run and catch for a 33 yard touchdown. His blocking has also gotten much better than last season. Graham, if he can continue this play throughout the season, is setting himself up good for the Texans to retain him for the coming seasons.

– Don’t know if it is reason for concern, but Johnathan Joseph struggled in a stretch late in the first quarter. He had three passes completed on him and one deep ball when Mike Wallace ran by Joseph for a 33 yard strike to set up a touchdown. It is preseason, but it is a situation to monitor for the Texans’ pass defense.

– Rookie wide receiver Alec Lemon showed why he is a good zone killer in the making. He is not flashy but he is the possession wide receiver the teams covet. He does everything right and catches the ball thrown in his direction. With the wide receiver depth, Lemon is setting himself up to make the practice squad.

– No one wants to talk about the job Shiloh Keo has done as the starter the past two games. He is not a burner but he understands the defense and he gets himself into good positions. If anything, he understands his limitations and plays to his strengths and will be a good depth safety for the Texans. Keo is keeping the position warm for Ed Reed or D.J. Swearinger, but he has put together two solid preseason games.

– The outside linebacker situation is an interesting one with Justin Tuggle, Willie Jefferson, Bryan Braman, Sam Montgomery and Trevardo Williams. We talked about Montgomery and Williams earlier, but the position is anything but settled behind Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus. Tuggle is more the complete outside linebacker that can hold up well against the run and give alittle on the pass rush. Tuggle had some bust on defense against the Dolphins where he lost contain. While Jefferson is a pass rushing terror, he struggled in the run game against the Dolphins and was being pushed around with ease. As for Braman, he has been the same player he has been since he arrived as a rookie, a special teams leader that doesn’t give much on the defensive end. 

This will be an ongoing situation, but the emergence of Tuggle and Jefferson have put the player evaluation under a closer microscope for the next two weeks.



You can follow Patrick on Twitter.  He is the Editor of State of the Texans.


3 Responses to “The Rundown: Miami Edition”
  1. Louie Partain says:

    Another great read Patrick, keep them coming, and as always… #GoTexans

  2. jeff says:

    McClain makes it and Hunter PS. Karim to me has the lead in RB race.

  3. ben says:

    Yep, exactly what I said last week about McClain and Karim, good to see ya come around. Johnson is simply not ready for the NFL… yet.

    Would have been nice to see a breakdown of the LG battle since its probably the most important right now and you were pretty adamant about the leader in the club house. Will be looking for this later in the week…

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