Houston Texans: 3 Things to Watch Against 49ers


The Houston Texans officially kick off their 2015 season tonight against the San Francisco 49ers. Well, I should say, they officially kick off their 2015 preseason. The games are sloppy, the starters barely play, and the games seem like they drag on forever. Still – football is football. The Texans have several interesting position battles this year, however, obviously starting with the quarterback position. If you plan on watching the Texans in action tonight, here are three things you should keep an eye on.

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1) Quarterbacks

The biggest storyline for the 2015 Houston Texans is the quarterback position. Who will win the starting job – Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett? Bill O’Brien may think both guys can play, but he’s going to have to choose one at some point. We don’t have an answer yet, and won’t have an answer after tonight (unless one of them gets injured).

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In all likelihood, we won’t have an answer for the majority of the season – don’t be surprised if both quarterbacks start games this year. Both guys will get plenty of playing time tonight, and they need to look like they belong in the NFL. Keep an eye out for Tom Savage as well – the fourth round draft pick is definitely the dark horse, but if he proves himself in his limited opportunity, he has a chance to claim the top backup role.

2) Alfred Blue

Alfred Blue started three games in 2014, appeared in all 16 and rushed for 528 yards and 2 touchdowns. All eyes will be on Blue, however, because is the number one replacement for Arian Foster, who will miss the start of the season to have surgery on his groin. Blue is one of four healthy backs on the roster, and he won’t be asked to do it all himself, but the bulk of the carries should go to him.

He only picked up 3.1 yards per carry last season, which is an area he needs to work on. Although he probably won’t get a lot of action tonight, he needs to show the coaching staff that he can be relied on to carry the load while Foster recovers.

3) Kevin Johnson

The subject of a spotlight piece I wrote a few weeks ago, the Texans’ coaching staff are high on Kevin Johnson, and for good reason. Johnson should get a lot of playing time tonight, and has a chance to move up on the depth chart at the corner position. If Johnson emerges as a reliable player, Houston’s sub-defense will become even tougher. The 49ers don’t exactly have a top-flight receiving core, and no one will mistake Colin Kaepernick for Aaron Rodgers. Therefore there is no excuse for Johnson not to come out and showcase his covering ability and first-round talent.

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