11 critical observations you need to know about from Texans 17-0 win over 49ers

The Texans finish the preseason undefeated. Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans shut out the San Francisco 49ers 17-0 in their preseason finale. Here are 11 observations from the game.

1. Davis Mills played better than last week. A few scoring drives is nice. He felt more in command and under control than last week. I particularly liked the third down shot to Chris Conley for a first down in the face of pressure. It was also nice to see Mills overcome a penalty and put a touchdown on the board with a nice read and throw to Chris Moore.

2. The offense will need to have good days on the ground. If there is a solid rushing attack, the Texans have a much higher floor for their offense. This team isn’t talented enough to survive being one-dimensional. The two touchdown drives prove how much the passing attack needs the rushing attack to be successful.

3. Pep Hamilton was very frustrating at the end of the first half. The Texans had all their timeouts, two minutes, and just over 70 yards to go for a score. Hamilton called three straight Rex Burkhead run plays. Yuck. It was a chance to see what Davis Mills had in the two-minute drill and Hamilton decided against it. Lovie Smith said after the game this was by design as not to show anything to opposing teams.

4. Davis Mills playing in the third quarter was good. I like to see teams be able to go see what was and wasn’t working in the first half and adjust. Marlon Mack had the big highlight run, but Mills fired two touchdowns on the drive. The first was wiped via a penalty but the second stood. I know it was the backups for the 49ers, but being better was the task for Mills. He was better.

5. Dameon Pierce is running back one. I am late to the party, but between the practice success and two preseason games worth of action, I can say he is the best back on the team. He should be the starter in week one against the Colts. I was most impressed by the pinball run, where he bowled over a 49ers defender and bounced it out and up for a bigger gain.

6. Marlon Mack is the second-best running back on the team. The veteran busted a few nice runs in the second half. It isn’t out of the question he and rookie Dameon Pierce could form a thunder and lightning tandem. Ok, well, a value thunder and lightning tandem.

7. Jalen Pierce is so fun to watch. The rookie safety is everywhere for the Texans. My cohost on ESPN Houston's The Wheelhouse Brad Kellner said of Pitre when he was at Baylor “it felt like there were two Jalen Pitres on the field” and it almost feels that way in the preseason so far.

8. Kurt Hinish must make this team. The undrafted rookie from Notre Dame has two preseason sacks. He never had more than two sacks in a season in college. The defensive tackle position is deep with starters Maliek Collins and Roy Lopez backed by rookies Thomas Booker and Hinish. Ross Blacklock, who didn’t play against the 49ers thanks to an injury, is on the roster bubble.

9. Kenyon Green had some solid reps at left guard. His strength is apparent. I don’t know how much the team needed to see him play, but I would be interested in seeing him start at left guard in week one.

10. Chris Moore is on this team and should be a factor at wide receiver. He made a mistake with the offensive pass interference but from the slot scored on the next play to make up for it. Moore has flashed, and in his second year with the team, should be in the mix for the team’s third-best pass catcher.

11. Brevin Jordan started camp hot, then faded into the background including some drops in the preseason game. The tight end room is officially a concern again. I suspect with Pharaoh Brown and Teagan Quitoriano banged up a little bit, there might be a waiver addition or a free agent signing in the tight end room.

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Jose Altuve is expected to miss significant time. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was hit by a pitch during Saturday's WBC game between Venezuela and the USA, which put a scare into Astros fans, and caused him to exit the game.

Now we're hearing Altuve with have to miss some time and won't be ready to start the season.

Bob Nightengale is reporting that the pitch broke Altuve's right thumb and he is expected to miss 8–10 weeks.

The Astros have not given an official update on the specifics of the injury.

Editor's note: The Astros have now given an update on Altuve's injury. He has a fractured thumb and will have surgery soon.

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