One of the reasons the Houston Texans fizzled late last season after a super hot start was the injury to Brian Cushing, ending his season and severely hurting one of the best defenses in the league. The linebacker’s return might be one of the most important “signings” for the AFC South champions, who also got bad news during their second preseason game, with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins forced to leave due to an injury.
Hopkins left the game with a concussion in the second quarter after looking slightly disoriented after picking up two receptions for 22 yards. The Texans have a lot riding on Hopkins, hoping he becomes that number 2 option they’ve been trying to develop for a very long time next to the aging Andre Johnson.
The Texans beat the Dolphins 24-17 with some impressive running from Deji Karim, finishing with 9 carries for 55 yards. In total, the Texans gained 112 yards on 28 carries during the game, while the Texans also got a touchdown from each of their quarterbacks, as the backup battle between T.J. Yates and Case Keenum is still far from over.
Garrett Graham, another former Wisconsin Tight End and Keshawn Martin were the most active receivers, catching four passes each, while Lestar Jean and Owen Daniels caught a touchdown each, joining Graham as end-zone stalwarts on the day.
Cushing had an impressive day on defense, even though he didn’t get a sack on Ryan Tannehill, only coming close a couple of times. It was his first game since week 5 from last season, and Cushing stayed on the field for 10 snaps.
Trevardo Williams, a fourth round draft pick, had an impressive finish to the game which slightly regains the confidence he has lost during training camp when two undrafted rookies jumped him on the Texans’ depth chart. Williams got two sacks as the Texans found no problem getting to the Dolphins’ quarterbacks (six times), hopefully pushing himself back up the ladder into the place he was when he left UConn as the school’s all-time leader in sacks.
Matt Schaub is still waiting for Arian Foster, while the defense as a whole is waiting to see more of J.J. Watt, who isn’t going to show up a lot during preseason, which is something he has no problem with after missing the entire preseason schedule last year before having a monster 2012 season.
The Texans look like the best team in the AFC South, but on a wider scale? It’s going to be about staying healthy. While their offense isn’t a juggernaut unit, it’s solid enough to score points on anyone, even through the air, if Hopkins turns out to be as good as he was for Clemson last year.
The defense will be about fixing their secondary problems from last year (and they struggled a bit containing the Tannehill – Mike Wallace connection), as the two very painful losses to the New England Patriots serving as somewhat of a warning sign to their more serious faults heading into next season.