Holliday is a threat in the open field
Every week here at the AFC South Blog, I'll look at a big play and break down what made it happen. The big story in preseason Week 1 was obviously Andrew Luck's debut, but that's been covered enough already.
Instead, let's look at the biggest play of the game for the Houston Texans against the Carolina Panthers. Houston had a rough go of it early on thanks to a pair of turnovers from stars Matt Schaub and Arian Foster.
No one is worried about Foster or Schaub in the regular season, so there's no point in obsessing over the mistakes. What was interesting was the way other Texans stepped up in the first half.
No one made a bigger impression than kick-returner Trindon Holliday. His 90-yard run-back was electric.
Holliday was with the Texans last year, but bounced back and forth between the roster, the practice squad and the street. While his 5'5" frame will always be a question mark, there's no doubt about his ability to burn.
Will Holliday become the regular returner for the Texans? From the looks of his effort against the Panthers, they could do worse.
There was strong blocking on the run from the start, as Holliday fielded the short kick. He cut to his right and popped through a well formed hole. No fewer than five Texans can be seen sealing off their man.
At this point, the play is so well blocked that any returner is going to wind up with a nice run-back. Where Holliday's speed kicks in is at the next level. In the frame below, you can see he has one man to beat. I'll grant you that it's a kicker, but at Holliday's size, it only takes a hand or two on him to knock him off his rhythm and create an eventual tackle.
Once Holliday speeds past Justin Medlock (6), you can see he's all but home-free. He steps out of a final ankle tackle and posts six points on the board for Houston.
Holliday had two other returns on the day, each covering more than 30 yards. His three punt returns were short, but that doesn't diminish his overall play.
There are obvious concerns with Holliday's durability and size, but if he can follow up on a big day in Week 1 with strong performances in the rest of the preseason, he could find himself with a roster spot and the Texans will have found an unexpected special teams weapon.