11 observations from the Texans' 20-14 win over the Cowboys

The Texans are 2-0 in the preseason. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans earn another win in the preseason game as players begin to separate themselves in the quest to make the roster.

1. Jacob Martin's strip-sack on the first drive was a welcomed sight. Martin is a speed demon off the edge so in clear passing situations these are the types of plays the Texans need from him to make his reps have meaning. Martin beat the Cowboys starting right tackle on the rep as well. It should be expected Martin will be in the defensive line rotation.

2. It's a small criticism, but in a quick-change scenario like a fumble, the Texans can do more. The first play out of the takeaway wasn't a deep shot or attempt at the end zone. A quick change like a fumble allows you to take a shot, but offensive coordinator Tim Kelly ran a play with a handful of shorter routes. It would have been nice to see a shot to the end zone or a potentially bigger play.

3. The fourth and short aggressiveness was nice to see. The Texans will have to win some of those risk-taking situations to beat teams this year. The play calls on the two fourth and short plays though left a lot to be desired. I won't be too critical since you don't want to show your good stuff in the preseason, but I would've liked to see a throw on the second attempt.

4. Mark Ingram is the first running back who will play for this team, and he has plenty of juice left in the tank despite his long NFL career to this point. Ingram will surprise some opponents this season with his catching ability, he's flashed it in practice. Ingram being in a rotation should keep him fresh all year.

5. Maliek Collins flashed more than a few times in his first preseason action. 97 looks like a weird number, but get used to seeing it as Collins will be an important piece of this Texans defensive line.

6. The Texans could have some tough decisions to make on the interior defensive line. It feels like almost every player on the defensive line has had some good stretches. Perhaps the team can store someone they cut on the practice squad as the expanded practice squad rules are in effect this year.

7. Speaking of first preseason action, how about the eye-popping play of Charles Omenihu? The former Texas product annihilated a tight end and took down the Cowboys quarterback. Omenihu must be great this season for this defense to be good. His growth as a pass rusher is one of the most important aspects of 2021's season.

8. Desmond King has flashed more than a few times as the returner for this team. There could be some thought given to keeping an additional wideout, someone like Chris Moore, instead of Andre Roberts who was signed as a returned specialist. King's success in games, and practice, is hard to ignore.

9. Davis Mills, nor Tyrod Taylor for that matter, made very many highlight-reel plays. Mills locked onto his receiver far too much but had a few nice passes. The whole offense felt disjointed most of the night. Third down was putrid, and Texans head coach David Culley mentioned blitzes affected how they were operating in the money down. The team needs to be efficient and make third downs manageable. They don't have the talent to overcome long third downs.

10. Lonnie Johnson's interception was one of the many takeaways the team had. Don't call them turnovers, not to defensive coordinator Lovie Smith at least. This team will have to capitalize on takeaways almost every time to beat most teams. Johnson's interception is a huge play for the third-year player who has to play well for this team in 2021.

11. The tight end group is an easy decision at this point, as I see it. Cornerback is shaping up pretty well too. Most of the other positions will come with some difficult decisions. It will be a fight to keep certain players in the organization while some will easily find themselves looking for a new team.

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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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