FALCON POINTS

5 things to watch in the Texans preseason opener

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The Texans preseason begins tonight against Green Bay, and while the games are meaningless, there are a few things you can pick up. Don't expect to see stars like J.J. Watt or DeAndre Hopkins. Much of it will basically involve backups and the battle for those jobs, but here is a look at what to keep an eye out for:

1) How they handle the quarterbacks

Deshaun Watson should not play more than a series if at all. That means we will probably see a lot of Joe Webb, as A.J. McCarron, the presumed backup, is out, possible for the preseason. They signed Jordan Ta'amu, a rookie who was in their rookie camp. He may get snaps out of necessity tonight, even with one day's notice. Expect Webb to play the bulk of the offensive snaps.

2) How do the young linemen look?

First round pick Titus Howard and second round pick Max Scharping will likely see time at both guard and tackle. While they won't see any stunts or blitzes, it will be interesting to see how they fare against NFL players. Spend some time watching these players to see how they match up physically.

3) Running backs behind Lamar Miller

The Texans cut D'Onta Foreman earlier in the week, so the backup jobs are wide open involving a bunch of free agents and guys off the street. It will be interesting to see if any of them can be successful. They should all get ample opportunity, as there is no reason for Miller to play. Karan Higdon and Damarea Crockett are particularly intriguing.

The trade to acquire Duke Johnson means these players will be battling for the third spot and perhaps the practice squad, but some of them will be part of the roster.

4) Any promising young corners in the house?

This will be another position to keep an eye on. There is room for someone to emerge and help out on the back end, and like the running backs, they will get a lot of time. Jermaine Kelly, Xavier Crawford and second round pick Lonnie Johnson all bear watching.

5) Another pass rusher

With Jadeveon Clowney sitting out the preseason, there is room for someone to earn a spot as a pass rusher. Peter Kalambayi and Brennan Scarlett should be particularly interesting.

Bottom line

Otherwise, we aren't going to learn much. But that's OK. At least it is football. Sort of.

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Houston is falling down the rankings

Tigers pound Odorizzi, Astros with homers as Houston drops fourth in a row

The Astros have not looked great in their last four games. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After watching their hot start of 6-1 cool down to a 6-4 record with three straight losses, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night, looking to do a better job at home against a beatable Tigers team.

Recent games' woes would continue, though, with Houston's pitching getting blasted by the opposing offense and their own bats primarily quiet.

Final Score: Tigers 8, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-5, tied for second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Matthew Boyd (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-1)

Astros score first, then Tigers unload on Odorizzi

Houston looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the second, with three singles in the first four batters of the inning, the third an RBI-single by Myles Straw to put the Astros in front 1-0. However, Matthew Boyd would limit the damage, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

After two easy innings for Jake Odorizzi in his regular-season debut for his new team, he would allow a game-tying solo homer to Akil Baddoo, his fourth of the year, in the top of the third. Detroit struck again in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff double to set up a two-run go-ahead home run to jump ahead 3-1.

They didn't stop there, getting another two-run bomb later in the same inning; a frame that would take Odorizzi 31 pitches to get only one out before Houston would bring in Bryan Abreu to get the last two outs. Odorizzi's final line in his debut: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 80 P.


Detroit continues home run parade, Houston loses fourth in a row

Abreu would hope to do what Luis Garcia did the night before, eat up as many innings as possible after a poor outing from Houston's starter. The Tigers would get yet another two-run homer, though, in the top of the fifth, extending their lead to 7-1, with all seven runs coming over a three-inning span. For good measure, they'd knock one more out with two outs in the top of the ninth, making it 8-1.

As far as Houston at the plate, other than their string of hits to bring in a run earlier in the second, they were getting nothing done against Boyd, who would go six and two-thirds innings. Detroit's bullpen would finish things off, despite an all-too-late sac fly by the Astros in the bottom of the ninth, with Houston dropping their fourth-straight game and continuing to lose ground in the division.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set with Detroit will be an hour earlier on Wednesday, getting underway at 6:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to maintain his perfect record and improve upon his two five-inning one-run starts for the Astros, going opposite of Michael Fulmer (0-0, 2.57 ERA) for the Tigers.

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