FALCON POINTS

5 things to watch in the Texans preseason opener

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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Astros defeat the Orioles, 5-1. Composite Getty Image.

Ronel Blanco pitched seven strong innings and Chas McCormick homered twice to lead the Houston Astros to a 5-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.

Yordan Alvarez added a two-run shot to help Houston extend its winning streak to four games.

Blanco (8-2), who threw seven hitless innings in his last start, allowed four hits and a run with three strikeouts for his third straight win.

Alvarez put the Astros on top with his 16th homer, which came off Corbin Burnes (8-3) in the third, and McCormick made it 4-1 in the fifth. McCormick got his fifth career multihomer game when he connected again in the eighth.

Burnes allowed five hits, including a season-high two homers and a season-most four runs in seven innings to snap his career-best streak of 10 consecutive quality starts. He was 5-0 in seven starts since a loss at Washington on May 7.

Jordan Westburg homered in the second for the Orioles, who set a franchise record with 21 straight games with a home run to surpass the 1998 squad's 20-game streak.

Baltimore had troubled stringing hits together Saturday after scoring 28 runs combined in the last two games. The top four batters in their order combined to go 1 for 13 against Blanco and Houston's bullpen.

Ryan Pressly threw a scoreless eighth before Josh Hader struck out two in a perfect ninth to end it.

Westburg connected off Blanco with one out in the second to put the Orioles up 1-0.

Yainer Diaz opened Houston’s second with a triple on a line drive to right field. The Astros tied it when he scored on a sacrifice fly by Mauricio Dubón with one out.

McCormick singled with no outs in the third and the shot to center field by Alvarez came with two outs to put Houston on top 3-1.

McCormick’s home run to the seats in left field extended the lead to 4-1 with one out in the fifth.

Cedric Mullins tripled off the wall in center with one out in the seventh. Colton Cowser hit a sharp line drive, but was robbed of a hit when shortstop Jeremy Peña made a leaping catch for the second out. Blanco then retired Ramón Urías to end the inning and leave Mullins stranded.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP Jake Bloss, who made his major league debut Friday night, was placed on the injured list with right shoulder discomfort.

ROSTER MOVES

Astros: RHP Nick Hernandez was optioned to Triple-A Sugar Land on Friday night. ... LHP Bryan King was selected to the MLB roster and RHP Luis Contreras was recalled from Sugar Land on Saturday. … RHP Alex Speas was designated for assignment.

UP NEXT

Houston LHP Framber Valdez (5-5, 3.91 ERA) opposes RHP Albert Suárez (3-1, 2.05) in the series finale Sunday.

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