Sports

Houston Texans preseason preview: schedule, analysis, players to watch

When the full Houston Texans roster reported for duty here at the Greenbrier Resort Tuesday (July 25), most attention will be on a Savage, a rookie quarterback and one of the best defensive lineman in NFL history who must prove he can play again.

Texans head coach Bill O’Brien named Tom Savage as the starting quarterback over rookie Deshaun Watson, who must gain some seasoning before the Texans consider changing his status.

“It’s best for the team,” admitted Watson, the former Clemson standout who was a Heisman Trophy finalist, Davey O’Brien and Manning Award winner and claimed an ESPY this month for Best Male College Athlete.

“Coach OB knows a lot of football. He’s been with the best, if not one of the best in NFL history, Tom Brady. He knows how everything is operated. He knows when the perfect timing will be. He knows when it’s right and when it’s wrong.”

Meanwhile, J.J. Watt, a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, must show he can return to some semblance of his former greatness and stay healthy after undergoing a pair of back surgeries to repair a herniated disk. Watt was not in contact drills yet but was fully cleared and participated in all offseason practices. His health is paramount to the NFL’s top-ranked defense. Watch out the NFL Schedule here.

The opening of camp was not without some drama. Tackle Duane Brown, who wants a new contract despite having two years remaining on his current deal, is officially a holdout and was placed on the team’s reserve/did not report list. Brown was also absent from the team’s June mandatory minicamp.

His scheduled salaries are $9.4 million this year and $9.75 million in 2018.

Top Summer Battle

With most public and media attention focused on the all-important quarterback position and Watt’s return, one of the key battles to watch in camp this summer will be at strong safety.

This will a highly-contested battle for a starting job between Corey Moore, Lonnie Ballentine and, perhaps later, K.J. Dillon when he is healthy.

Moore returns with starting experience and held up solidly last season, but didn’t make many big plays. Ballentine has prototypical size and speed, but keeps getting hurt. Dillon is recovering from a torn ACL suffered as a rookie last year.

THE FACTS:

TRAINING CAMP: The Greenbrier; White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

COACH: Bill O’Brien

4th season as Texans/NFL head coach

28-23 overall; 1-2 postseason

THE BREAKDOWN

2016 finish: 1st AFC South (9-7)

STATISTICS

TOTAL OFFENSE: 314.7 (29th)

RUSHING: 116.2 (8th)

PASSING: 198.5 (29th)

TOTAL DEFENSE: 301.3 (1st)

RUSHING: 99.7 (12th)

PASSING: 201.6 (2nd)

2017 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

All times Central

Aug. 9, at Carolina (Wed), 6:30

Aug. 19, NEW ENGLAND (Sat), 7:00

Aug. 26, at New Orleans (Sat), 7:00

Aug. 31, DALLAS (Thu), 7:00

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