Houston Texans Most Intriguing Preseason Stats so Far
Yes, DeAndre Hopkins is a stud. Yes, Brandon Brooks performed much, much better than Ben Jones last season. Yes, the Texans could really use a healthy Brian Cushing manning the middle of the defense.
But, what about the surprises?
Which players came out of the blue and played exceptionally well? Who disappointed? Which stats are really eye-popping?
Here are the most intriguing stats from the Texans' first preseason matchup.
Earl Mitchell's Numbers
Is anyone else getting sick of praying that the Texans will finally draft a huge, space-eating nose tackle high up in the draft?
Well, guess what, your praying days may be over. The Texans' heralded nose tackle may have finally arrived.
His name is Earl Mitchell. He played the majority of last season as Shaun Cody's backup. The Texans did not resign Cody, but Mitchell has been named the starter.
No one expected much from the longtime backup. Except Mitchell. He dedicated himself to a rigorous offseason schedule, determined to become the best player that he could be.
And the results were clear in the Texans' first preseason game. Mitchell was absolutely dominant. He only played 10 snaps, but during that short duration he managed to record four tackles—one sack and three tackles for loss.
Mitchell looked quick, agile and strong. The Vikings offensive line appeared to be overwhelmed And the best part was that he did it against one of the best center's in the game: John Sullivan.
If Mitchell can consistently play this well, he will become yet another extremely talented name on the already-stacked Texans defense.
Garrett Graham's Numbers
Last season, the Texans offense was utterly devoid of weapons; Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels represented Matt Schaub's only reliable receiving targets.
DeAndre Hopkins is going to help change that—so is Garrett Graham.
Graham, a long-time benchwarmer, was essentially a poor man's Daniels last season. He had consistent hands and ran solid routes. He was effective in play-action scenarios.
This season, however, Graham is looking to rid himself of the stigma of being a poor man's anyone. He is ready to emerge as a dangerous receiving threat.
And if last friday's game is any indication, he certainly could be. Owen Daniels did not play, which bumped Graham up to the starting tight end spot. There, he immediately established himself as a primary target.
Both Matt Schaub and T.J. Yates looked his way early and often. Graham got open easily, hauling in five of his six targets for a total of 49 yards.
Graham did not do anything flashy. But he did make plays for the offense. And after an inconsistent 2012 season, that is huge for the Texans.
Last season, the Texans were among the league's best when it came to protecting the football. The offense rarely turned the ball over.
So why should it be such a big surprise that the Texans committed zero turnovers against the Vikings?
Well, for one, the Texans starters only played a precious few minutes. The backups handled the vast majority of the drives, rendering all of the turnover statistics from last season meaningless.
Normally, when rookies and inexperienced players are thrust into action, mistakes are made quite often. The Texans backups, however, handled themselves admirably.
They showed poise beyond their years, which is indicative of the excellent job the Texans coaching staff did in preparing the young players for NFL action.
It certainly looks like the Texans will be one of the few lucky teams blessed with a very, very deep roster stocked with talent.
The Backup Quarterbacks Numbers
One of the most impressive takeaways from the Texans' first preseason game was the excellent play of the two backup quarterbacks: T.J. Yates and Case Keenum.
Both players are supposedly locked into a tight competition for the primary backup job, and they both played like it.
Yates looked in command, and his arm appeared to be crisp and powerful—despite a few accuracy issues. He completed 13 of 21 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. No interceptions.
But it was Keenum who stole the show. Although Keenum struggled last year in the preseason, he looked like a changed player against the Vikings.
He was very poised in the pocket and appeared confident running the offense. He was accurate with his throws, he knew where he should place the ball, and he looked nothing like a player who should be competing for a roster spot.
Keenum ended up completing 13 of 18 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown. And he, too, threw no interceptions.
Both young quarterbacks desperately want to end up with the backup quarterback job. Continue to expect great performances from the two players whose jobs are on the line.
Dennis Johnson's Numbers
In the days leading up to the Texans matchup with the Vikings, nothing bad was said about Dennis Johnson, an undrafted rookie running back out of Arkansas.
He was impressing everyone. His big-play potential, his shiftiness and his toughness made him a favorite to win the competition for the third-string running back job.
And all of those qualities were on display on Friday night. For one play.
Johnson broke free and picked up 13 yards, displaying all of the aspects of the game that make him such a dangerous runner.
But the rest of the night did not go as planned for the young running back. Besides his one long run, Johnson amassed a grand total of negative-two yards.
He appeared unsure of where he was supposed to go, running from side to side instead of picking a hole and hitting it hard.
Johnson has a ton of talent; he just needs to remain confident in his game.