Falcon Points

How the Texans will look when they face the Chiefs next week

Composite image by Jack Brame.

A week from tonight, the Texans will open the season the way the last one ended - in Kansas City against the Super Bowl champion Chiefs.

Yes, NFL football is just a week away. There will likely be some Covid scares along the way, and the game will look different in the stands. But in the end, it will come down to the players and coaches, as it always does. For the Texans, it will be a chance to see where they stand right away in comparison to a real Super Bowl contender.

The positive is Houston will enter the season with very few question marks. The lineup is pretty much set on both sides of the ball. That's a good thing, because in the Rona camp, there was not a lot of time for positional battles. Barring last minute injuries, this is how the lineups should look in a week:

QB: Deshaun Watson. The only question here is how good can he be? This should be the year he takes the next step.

OL: The Texans have invested a lot in this unit. Laremy Tunsil is one of the better left tackles in the league, and Tytus Howard was terrific as a rookie until he got injured. He should be even better in Year 2. That should give the Texans plus players at tackle. Max Scharping should improve at guard in Year 2, giving the team potentially three plus players. Nick Martin and Zach Fulton need to be average for this to be the strength of the team.

WR: DeAndre Hopkins is gone, but there is depth and speed here with Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller, Kenny Stills and Randall Cobb. Even when Fuller's inevitable injured, a Cooks/Stills/Cobb trio should still be effective.

TE: Darren Fells, Jordan Thomas and Jordan Akins aren't great, but they aren't bad. Again, there is depth here.

RB: The Texans are married to the David Johnson/Duke Johnson duo, for better or worse. David Johnson hasn't been good since 2016, but maybe he has a big year. Again, not great, but potentially OK.

DL: J.J. Watt will anchor things as long as he stays healthy. Brandon Dunn, Charles Omenihu, Angelo Blackson, Ross Blacklock will all be part of the rotation. There is a lot of potential here, but there is also a high potential for failure, especially if Watt gets hurt.

ILB: Zach Cunningham played very well last year and got paid for it. Bernardrick McKinney is average. Dylan Cole provides depth.

OLB: Again, a lot of averageness. Whitney Mercilus has always just been OK. Brennan Scarlet and Jacob Martin are just OK. Draft pick Jonathan Greenard has a lot of developing to do.

CB: Bradley Roby leads a very average to below average group that includes Gareon Conley and Vernon Hargreaves. Maybe Lonnie Johnson develops in Year 2, but otherwise this is a group that will struggle.

S: Justin Reid is a potential Pro Bowler. Jaylen Watkins and Eric Murray are just guys. The secondary as a whole is a big question mark.

Regardless of how it comes together, these will be the position players who will determine the Texans fate.

And it all starts next week.

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Here's why the Texans will make the playoffs under Lovie Smith

1. The Houston Texans had a mentally tough practice Saturday. The team has worked a lot in pads and Lovie Smith noted the days starting to build up on them during this practice. The head coach said this is a good practice because it is like the fourth quarter of the games the team will end up playing.

2. Davis Mills threw one of the best passes he has thrown all camp on Saturday. In a red zone drill, he dropped back and whipped a pass between two defenders into the tightest window he has had all camp. Nico Collins hauled in the threaded pass for a score.

3. A few reps later Davis Mills struck again. With traffic from linebackers and defensive backs, he found Chris Conley for a score. It wasn’t as tight of a window as the first one, but Mills snapped it off nonetheless.

4. Pharaoh Brown made something hard look very easy on Saturday. With Mills rolling out and tossing the ball to Brown in the back corner Brown hauled in a one-handed catch and had both feet down. Touchdown. Brown then acted like it was no big deal.

5. Pharaoh Brown has had a wonderful camp. Lovie Smith named him the starting tight end. The thing that really jumped out to me today is he makes his work look easy. He isn’t straining to excel in his opportunities. The good ones always make it look easy and it has looked easy for Brown so far.

6. Rookie linebacker Christian Harris is on the shelf for a few days. He joins fellow rookie Kenyon Green as players who are injured. Max Scharping played left guard with Green down. Wide receiver Phillip Dorset practiced while veteran wideout Chester Rodgers did not.

7. Roy Lopez flashed again today. While Friday was about the rushing attack and Lopez made his presence felt at defensive tackle, he got into the pass rush Saturday. Lopez would have had a bone-crushing sack in a live rep.

8. Ross Blacklock hasn’t been consistent. A statement like that is good and evil. There are some plays where Blacklock looks like he isn’t a factor. I watched one today. A play later he had what would have been a sack on the play. He’s a player to watch in the preseason games closely.

9. Don’t expect to see Derek Stingley in the preseason opener next Saturday. Lovie Smith wouldn’t commit to the rookie cornerback playing in the preseason. Smith did say Stingley is on track to play week one in the regular season.

10. Brevin Jordan has had a nice camp and should be an important piece for the team. Jordan had a bad drop in 7-on-7 drills that he was beating himself up over for a few minutes. That was out of the norm. He’s been used a lot and will be on the field a bit it seems for the Texans.

11. Brevin Jordan also rattled off a few contenders for the quote of the day. He exclaimed he had taken care of himself this offseason and he finally had abs. He also revealed he’s quite the fisherman and once caught a 125-pound tuna. When asked what he did with the tuna Jordan laughed and said “RIP tuna!”

Listen to Cody Stoots weekdays afternoons 3-7pm on his show "The Wheelhouse" live on ESPN 97.5 + 92.5 FM or anytime on demand at the podcast here.

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