There’s a lot to like from the Texans preseason game 2

The Texans won their second preseason game. Stephen Pinchback/Houstontexans.com

This may be just a scrimmage game but I saw a lot of positives in the Texans 16-13 win against the 49ers in NRG Stadium. The defensive front seven is going to be a monster when the regular season rolls around. These guys get after it and will probably be good enough to force teams into airing it out. Offensively, Deshaun Watson looked superb and his receivers made him look even better. Those are two very good reasons to be optimistic as we get closer to Week 1 at New England, but glaring problems also showed up on film. It’s those problems that will make or break the season.

The Texans secondary was awful. A lot of the good things that did happen, like Johnson Bedemosi’s interception; were the result of the front seven getting pressure and forcing the play. If Jimmy Garoppolo had played more there would have been some deep balls for touchdowns. The other big problem for Houston is the running game. They are averaging around 3 yards per carry and no one looked all that good. Lamar Miller only has 8 carries in the two games so that has a lot to do with it, but someone else will need to step up and provide more out of the backfield. Alfred Blue is the favorite so far, but that’s not a comforting thought.

But let’s focus on the better parts of the team that showed up Saturday night. Watson went 5-of-8 for 73 yards and a touchdown in his first and only drive of the game. His passes looked crisp and he was getting it out of his hand fast with plenty of lead for the receivers to get yards after the catch. Bruce Ellington was the beneficiary of three of those passes for 44 yards and a touchdown, most of that yardage coming on one play where he was wide open underneath and ran for 33 yards after the catch.

Most of the receivers on hand for the night were lower depth chart guys like Sammie Coates, Braxton Miller and rookie Vyncint Smith and all looked like they belonged when Deshaun Watson and Brandon Weeden were on the field. And as good as the depth at receiver looked, this is the second week in a row that the tight end appeared to be a serious weapon offensively for the Texans. Ryan Griffin caught two passes for 29 yards on that opening drive and MyCole Pruitt had a 17-yard reception on a later drive. Couple that with the play of Jordan Akins last week and things are looking up for tight ends.

Defensively, I can’t say enough about how fast the front seven played against the 49ers first and second unit. Duke Ejiofor continues to impress, and Dylan Cole had another solid performance as well. Those aren’t even the starters. Zach Cunningham had a great tackle near the line of scrimmage when he shot cleanly through a gap in the traffic for a clean take down. This group dominated at the line of scrimmage much of the first half and that was done without a lot of significant starters beyond one series. This is going to be a run stopping team that’s exciting to watch on Sundays.

It will take the whole team getting better if the Texans want to make it to the playoffs, but there was a lot of solid play on the field that makes that possible. There are still two more games left in the preseason and starters might see more playing time as the regular season inches closer. Rosters are going to start being made based on these first two preseason games and for several players they have made their case. The rest will have just a limited opportunity to secure a spot. It will start next Saturday at the Los Angeles Rams.


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Houston drops the game to Arizona

D-backs outslug Greinke and Astros to take series opener

Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

With the series win over the Rangers by taking two of three games in the middle of the week, the Astros welcomed the Diamondbacks to Minute Maid Park for a three-game weekend series, Houston's final three regular-season home games. Here is how the opener unfolded:

Final Score: Diamondbacks 6, Astros 3.

Record: 25-26, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zac Gallen (2-2, 3.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Luis Garcia (0-1, 2.53 ERA).

Houston scores first, but Arizona grabs a lead against Greinke

Houston would get on the board first on Friday night, with George Springer reaching base in the bottom of the first on an error, moving to second on a walk, then to third on a single, as the Astros loaded the bases with no out to threaten a big inning. Instead, they would come away with just one run, with Springer taking home on a wild pitch, grabbing the 1-0 lead, but leaving runs on the table.

They doubled their lead in the bottom of the third, getting a two-out RBI-double by Kyle Tucker to make it a 2-0 Houston lead. The D-backs responded in the top of the fourth, getting back-to-back singles to lead off the inning before a three-run homer by Kole Calhoun off of Zack Greinke would put Arizona in front, 3-2. Greinke would finish one more inning before Houston would move to their bullpen, striking out the side to bring his total to nine on the night, making the bad fourth inning the one blemish on his night. His final line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 1 HR, 89 P.

Astros tie it, but D-backs take the opener

George Springer would get Greinke off the hook in the bottom of the fifth, leading off the half-inning with a solo bomb to tie the game at 3-3. Luis Garcia was first out of Houston's bullpen and retired Arizona in order for a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth. He returned for the top of the seventh but would allow a leadoff single, RBI-triple, and wild pitch to bring in two runs. He would face two more batters, allowing a double and getting a strikeout, before Dusty Baker would come out to get him, now down 5-3.

Blake Taylor would make his return from the IL after Garcia, getting back-to-back outs to finish the inning. He continued on in the 5-3 game in the top of the eighth, but allowed a one-out solo homer to Calhoun, his second of the night and fourth RBI. That made it a 6-3 D-backs lead, which would go final as Houston would go scoreless after Springer's home run back in the fifth.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will start Saturday at 6:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup will be Luke Weaver (1-7, 6.70 ERA) for Arizona and Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.22 ERA) for Houston.

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