The Houston Texans will take on the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon at 4:25 p.m. ET in what will be the third preseason game for each team. The third preseason game is often referred to as a dress rehearsal for the regular season as most teams tend to rest most of their starters for the fourth preseason game to avoid injury.
Despite winning their first two preseason games, the Texans haven’t looked sharp, especially on offense. The first-team offense has only produced one touchdown so far, and that’s a far cry from what Houston general manager Rick Smith and head coach Bill O’Brien were expecting after spending a ton of money on that side of the ball this offseason.
Here are five players on the Houston Texans to keep an eye on in the team’s third preseason game against the Cardinals.
1. QB Brock Osweiler
The Texans gave Osweiler a four-year, $72 million contract almost immediately after free agency opened after spending last season with a revolving door at the quarterback position. As one should expect, there have been some growing pains to this point in the preseason as Osweiler hasn’t quite yet developed a rapport with his receivers.
In the Texans’ first game against the San Francisco 49ers, Osweiler went a pedestrian 4-of-7 for 27 yards and zero touchdowns as the first-team offense played three series.
In Houston’s second game, Osweiler played much better as he completed 12-of-19 passes for 124 yards with a touchdown and an interception against the New Orleans Saints. After a three-and-out on the opening drive of the game, the Texans took over at the Saints’ 39-yard-line following a muffed punt. It took the Houston offense six plays to score as Osweiler hit Will Fuller from 19 yards out.
Against the Cardinals, Osweiler is expected to have an increased workload, according to the Houston Chronicle‘s Aaron Wilson. Expect Brock and the first-team offense to at least play the first half, and possibly into the third quarter. Osweiler will be looking to develop chemistry with his receivers against one of the best defenses in the NFL from 2015.
2. C Greg Mancz
The Texans lost projected starting center Nick Martin after he underwent season-ending ankle surgery this past week. An already struggling Houston offensive line will now have to depend on the second-year undrafted free agent out of Toledo as its starting center for the rest of the season. The Texans will be looking for big things out of Mancz against the Cardinals.
3. WR Will Fuller
“I think Braxton and Will for rookie receivers have done a really good job.”
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) August 22, 2016
As of now, Jaelen Strong looks to be entrenched as the starting receiver opposite of DeAndre Hopkins, but Fuller is doing everything he can to change that. In addition to his touchdown catch against the Saints, the Texans’ 2016 first-round pick has hauled in five catches for 77 yards through the team’s first two preseason games. If he continues to produce against the Cardinals, Fuller could put a lot of pressure on the Houston coaching staff.
4. OT Chris Clark
Starting left tackle Duane Brown isn’t expected to be ready for Week 1 according to NFL insider Ian Rapoport. That means the Houston Texans will need Clark to protect Osweiler’s backside and keep him off the ground. So far, the Texans’ offensive line has struggled which means the coaching staff will be looking for improvement against the Cardinals.
5. OLB Jadeveon Clowney
Jadeveon Clowney returned to action, and did so with an impact.
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) August 21, 2016
Clowney made his preseason debut against the Saints and played like a first overall pick. The former South Carolina standout recorded a sack, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit in limited action. The Houston Texans will be looking for the same type of production against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday as it’s unclear if J.J. Watt will be ready to go for Week 1.
[Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]