Cody Stoots: 11 observations from Saturday's Texans-Rams game

J.J. Watt looks good on the field. Zach Tarrant/Houstontexans.com

1. A lot of starters played and got some of the action they were asking for in this game. Not that many needed it, J.J. Watt looked ready to go last week against the 49ers and Tyrann Mathieu essentially came into camp ready to go. Deshaun Watson played three middling series, the last derailed by penalties, but he has had enough action and looks ready to go in Foxboro against the Patriots. 

2. Watt is far closer to the old Watt we are used to seeing as opposed to the shell of himself we saw last year before the injury. He darted past a defender and ankle tackled a running back on one play that had some holding their breath as there were a lot of big bodies there. Other times he was forcing false starts or fiddling with a blocker while the ball got out quick. It will be interesting to see if this can be a season-long explosion from him, but, there are no worries for the start of the season. 

3. Jadeveon Clowney is so strong and didn't even get to scratch the surface on what he is truly capable of in this game. The batted pass is great to see as it shows the continued evolution of Clowney and this defense. The quick passes will be a focus for opponents and Clowney and Watt will have to impact the passing game with the batted passes to counter or slow the attacks offenses use to neutralize them. Clowney had a big hand in the interception by Kareem Jackson as he was chasing and got his big paw up to change the way the play was viewed by the Rams quarterback. 

4. It was unfair to see Clowney and Watt line up next to each other. This is such a tough matchup to defend because it allows one of the rushers or run stoppers to find the inferior point of the blocking scheme quick and head for the ball. On this particular play, each earned a one-on-one matchup with Watt carrying his man downfield and Clowney disengaging to make a big hit on a running back. 

5. It will be near impossible to run on the Texans first unit this year. Though it wasn't Todd Gurley and company against the Texans defense, the Texans have shown throughout camp an ability to stymie rushing attacks. Watt and Clowney both affect the opposition differently and Whitney Mercilus has yet to play with them to really drive home how tough it will be to run on the Texans. Not to mention D.J. Reader who has looked nice in camp and Christian Covington who looks close to where he was last year when he was hurt for the season. 

6. It would have been great to see Watson play one more series as it would have had him manning the offense in the red zone. He doesn't need a ton of work there right now. Watson might be one of the best red zone quarterbacks the Texans have had, and frankly, will be the best in short order. It was nice to see Alfred Blue bounce the play out, find a hole, and punch it in. He is making the team much to the chagrin of a lot of Texans fans. With the status of D'Onta Foreman, Blue is the backup. He will need to make quick decisions and hit what holes are there for him. 

7. "Hurry back soon" Seantrell Henderson is not a phrase I ever thought I would type but here we are. The likely starter at right tackle has missed some time and Kendall Lamm has been his backup. Lamm is not a starter in this league and the dropoff to him as the swing tackle is significant. He had a holding call torpedo a drive when Watson was in the game. If Martinas Rankins was healthy from the start of camp I don't believe we would've seen much of Lamm in these spots. Rankin had some nice plays, but a miscommunication between he and fellow rookie Jordan Thomas led to the Brandon Weeden interception as the Texans backup QB had to get rid of it or he would've been smashed.

8. Sammie Coates has to be on this team. His abilities fit this team and the depth chart and when he is healthy and playing he can be used more on special teams when his services are needed there. He drew two big pass interference penalties and hauled in a perfect strike from Weeden for a big gain. The Texans need him; he's the only true outside wide receiver backup with experience. If they keep five or six wideouts, it doesn't matter, he should be on the team. 

9. Braxton Miller seems like he has made this team as well. Miller almost seems like a "when the lights come on" type of guy. His performances in games or game-like situations have impressed. I don't see a scenario where the Texans keep just five wideouts meaning with six, Miller is on the team. I'm not sure what player gets edged out because the Texans are keeping an extra wide receiver. 

10. There is a chance Shane Lechler could lose his job, but, it still seems unlikely. I believe the ideal scenario would be trying to stash Trevor Daniel some way and have him take over for the veteran next year. That's ideal though, and unlikely with Daniel playing so well. He had better positions to punt from than Lechler Saturday and has pushed Lechler harder than any competitor has in Lechler's time in Houston and even his final few years in Oakland. 

11. The reports of Kayvon Webster working out for the Texans isn't surprising. Even if Kevin Johnson was healthy the Texans haven't had anyone step up and grab the final cornerback spot. Webster is an interesting free agent. He spent time with the Broncos buried on the depth chart behind some of the best corners in the league but contributing on special teams. He played last year with the Rams but saw a ruptured Achilles end his season. If he is healthy he become an interesting candidate to be a veteran add to the 53-man roster. 

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Another tough loss for Houston. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans lost again as their road game ineptitude continues. Former Texans stars DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt helped the Cardinals to the 31-5 victory.

1. The lack of talent is getting exposed earlier and earlier each week. The Texans have seen games slip away faster and faster from them each week. The team is overmatched almost everywhere.

2. Penalties remain a problem for the Texans. It seems like clockwork the team gets an illegal motion or illegal formation each week. Jordan Akins torpedoed a drive with a chop block. Max Scharping erased a positive play with a hold.

3. Davis Mills had some solid moments, but again, this team isn't good. It is hard to assess Mills with this team. He's making quicker decisions but he doesn't have the time or the players to make big plays.

4. The offensive line stinks. The interior of the line is still a mess and with Laremy Tunsil down the edges find themselves shaky as well. The running backs don't block well. The blocking tight ends don't block well. It is bad football in what was supposed to be a much-improved unit.

5. Desmond King was the best returner in the preseason. The team elected to give Andre Roberts an opportunity for a few games, but with his departure, the duties went to King. King is the most successful returner the Texans have had in a long while. Yes, it is that clear after just one game.

6. Max Scharping was benched in favor of Justin McCray. McCray produced similar levels of success. Scharping was benched last year for a journey-man veteran as well. The former second-round pick isn't getting it done.

7. Speaking of former second-round picks, Lonnie Johnson had an interception. That was the highlight of his day. Otherwise, Johnson frequently has me asking "what is Lonnie Johnson doing?" The former second-round pick at cornerback has been less than impressive at safety. Johnson seems to frequently be out of position or making the wrong choice in coverage.

8. DeAndre Hopkins had a solid day against the team that traded him away. Hopkins hauled in seven catches for 53 yards and a touchdown. After he scored, Hopkins looked to bring his hands together and mimic a prayer motion. I don't anticipate this was a nod to Arian Foster but perhaps could this have been about Jack Easterby?

9. The Texans had some sacks, but little of that action came when the game was close. Jonathan Greenard added two sacks to his total. The success Greenard is having is frustrating when you consider he couldn't get on the field last season. Charles Omenihu returned to action and had some pressures for the defense.

10. During the game reports surfaced that the Panthers might be interested in trading for Deshaun Watson. It was also reported by the Houston Chronicle Watson had vetoed a trade to Philadelphia, so the Eagles will not be involved in the Watson sweepstakes. The Panthers can only trade two first-round picks. The Miami Dolphins have three first-round picks they can trade for Deshaun Watson.

11. The Texans decided on a "culture" head coach in David Culley. His team has looked lifeless on the road. While the Texans took their beating, the Lions gave it their all against a good Rams team. Detroit is winless, but they play harder and better than the Texans. It grows clearer each week "culture" is meaningless if the team can't win.

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