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Old 08-16-2015, 01:31 AM   #1
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5 things: Texans top Niners, 23-10, in 1st preseason game

The Houston Texans won their preseason opener, 23-10 over the San Francisco 49ers. Here are the five things you need to know about their performance.

1. While the Texans were doing the usual shuffling of players in and out of the game and using plenty of players unlikely to land on the final roster, the team would certainly love to duplicate their game plan from this rather unimportant victory.

Houston ran the ball 45 times, which is a league-high so far this preseason.

Their offense possessed the ball for over 40 minutes, more than any other team so far this preseason.

Houston’s passer rating was 119.0, higher than any other team so far this preseason.

2. Brian Hoyer had two incompletions of his four pass attempts during his one series to open the game. Houston would have only one more incomplete pass the rest of the half.

Ryan Mallett was on the field for three full drives to close out the first half and while the team didn’t score any points, he was 3-3 for 29 yards.

Houston snapped the ball on eight consecutive plays inside the five-yard line with Mallett at quarterback.

Their two successful plays were a three yard gain on 4th and 1 from the 2-yard line. On that play, Alfred Blue followed a big block from fullback Jay Prosch on the left side to get within inches of the goal line.

The other play had Alan Bonner drawing a pass interference penalty in the endzone on 3rd and 4 from the four-yard line, which which set the team up for a first and goal from the 1-yard line.

The other six plays all came from the one-yard line and all netted no gain. Well, except for one run from Blue in which he lost three yards.

Houston also ran the ball on four straight plays from the one-yard line, with three different backs. None gained the necessary yard.

Also, in a related story, none of them were named Arian Foster.

3. First round pick, cornerback Kevin Johnson, wasn’t tested often, had two tackles and most importantly took a ton of reps. He said essentially he was on the field from his first series until the end of the game.

He did say he had some jitters, especially on his first snap, which came late in the first quarter, as he checked in with the first set of reserves as part of the second unit. I caught him talking to several of the veteran cornerbacks on the sidelines during the game.

“They were just telling me throughout the game, just telling what I could’ve done better, me what to expect,” Johnson said. “(Like) a little birdie in my ear as the game was going on.

“I felt like for my first time, overall I had a pretty good game,” Johnson said. “As far as what I need to work on, I just want to be better at everything.”

4. Back to the struggles of the running game in goal line situations and by extension the offensive line struggles.

The starting fivesome on the offensive line was done as a unit when the Texans reached the goal line on that second drive. In this case it was Derek Newton (right tackle), Ben Jones (right guard), James Ferentz (center), Brandon Brooks (right guard) and Jeff Adams (left tackle).

Four of those five will likely be starters, including Jeff Adams, though only Brooks and Newton were in their usual spots.

Adams got the start at left guard and has spent camp at that spot working with the starters.

Ben Jones has gotten limited, if any, snaps at left guard in camp. Same for Adams at left tackle, since he’s been working so much at left guard. Brooks was beaten badly on one goal line run, which resulted in a three-yard loss. While this group, like all that played on Saturday night, did not allow a sack, the offensive line paved the way for just 3.2 yards a carry and that includes a huge 32-yard run by Blue. Again, an area heavily affected – negatively – by the absence of Foster.

5. The game marked the play-calling debut of offensive coordinator George Godsey.

He was quarterbacks coach a year ago, though was heavily involved with the entire offense, including input on play-calling.

It certainly looked like a well-called game, considering the Texans heavy advantage in time of possession and their quarterbacks completed just a hair below 70 percent of their passes as a team.

“I don’t get too involved,” O’Brien explained after the game regarding his involvement in play-calling. “I don’t make play calls for him. No, I just give him general thoughts of what I want and what I would like to see.

"At the end (of the game), I’m just making sure he knew to keep it on the ground there. I told him to be alert that I was going to go for it on fourth down, certain things like that.”

Oh and one more thing – which is really the number one thing – no serious injuries were thought to have occurred during the game. “From what I’ve seen or heard so far, we came out of it, knock on wood, fairly healthy, which is one of the big goals of preseason – to come out healthy.”

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