Houston Texans Preseason Week 1 Review: Bulls Do a Sack Dance

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistAugust 12, 2012

Don't tell Mercilus that it's a preseason game.  He came ready for war.
Don't tell Mercilus that it's a preseason game. He came ready for war.Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Houston Texans beat the Carolina Panthers on August 11th in their first preseason game.

That means nothing.

Here's a running list of what does mean something for Houston.


This Defense Will Bring the Heat

Cam Newton is prone to taking sacks, but all night long the Texans were getting great pressure without exotic blitzes. They forced a quick throw on the first drive with a six-man rush. Brooks Reed annihilated Newton. One play later, the Texans landed on a four-man rush forcing a punt.

As I noted earlier, big sack totals in the preseason are a good sign for the Texans. Wade Phillips hasn't even broken out his big guns yet. Reed's sack came on a simple blitz.

With Tim Dobbins and rookie Whitney Mercilus picking up sacks what turned into a seven-sack day for the defense, the early returns are outstanding.

The pressure the Texans bring will be suffocating this year.


Matt Schaub Looked Healthy

It wasn't necessary for Schaub to show much in the preseason. He's a known commodity. He looked healthy and mobile. He threw a few nice passes and showed no ill effects from his surgery.

His numbers weren't great, and he threw a grizzly interception, but for an established player like Schaub, those things are of no concern.

Schaub didn't have Andre Johnson in the game either, so expecting too much from the passing game wasn't realistic. If they play like this in Week 3 of the preseason, it's a concern. In Week 1, the team is just happy to have him back.

Of course, if anything does happen to Schaub, the steady, unspectacular play of T.J. Yates will be of some comfort. He did a nice job sustaining drives in his limited work.


Red Zone is a Work in Progress

The loss of Joel Dreesen is going to be a story in the red zone all season. The first-string offense game up short at the goal line.

The two-headed rushing attack of Ben Tate and Arian Foster will find less room inside the 10 as teams load up.

The Texans are going to need to turn James Casey into a big target in close. They looked his way several times, but the jury is still out on whether he can be the kind of touchdown threat that Dreesen was.

Garrett Graham came in in the second half and made some nice plays. It will be interesting to see how the team develops that phase of the offense. I would like to see Graham get more work with the first team to see if he can be that in-tight weapon.


The Wideout Battle is On

Keshawn Martin is clearly the favorite to win the third wideout job, and he had a nice catch on the opening drive, then followed it up with an end around. He did have an end-zone target later in the first half with Yates but didn't do a good job getting separation on third down. He's got great speed, but it looked like there is still room for growth technically on his routes.

Lestar Jean showed up in the second half with a pair of pretty efforts. He's clearly a very physical wideout and absorbs contact well.

While it may not happen this year, it's not hard to envision both playing at the same time for Houston in the future.