What To Watch: Arizona Cardinals Edition

The Houston Texans are ready for their first preseason game and we give you some tidbits on what to watch for heading into it.

Fundamentals and Disciplined Football

The Texans struggled in this department in 2013 and under Bill O’Brien that has been one of the keys he has harped on the beginning of camp. Tackling, blocking and knowing assignments is what is going to make the Texans a better team in 2014.

No penalties and mental mistakes has been preached from day one and if there is one thing that O’Brien can not deal with, it is unnecessary setbacks on the football field.

The Second Team Offense

They will get the majority of the work in the first preseason game and seeing if they can move the ball consistently is key for them. They have struggled during camp to make any real movement and it all starts with the quarterback play.

They will need to move the ball consistently but with the new offensive system in place it could be a tough task. It will be interesting to see if the Texans can move the ball when the first team exits the game.

Trench Play

The Texans work hard to make things happen during practice but they protect each other to keep from taking each other to the ground. In order for offensive and defensive lines to get better, they have to be able to play physical and move players off the line of scrimmage. There will be a better feel for how physical the respective units play, but it will be a good sight to finally see them work with nothing held back.

Special Teams Play

Will this group finally improve under Bob Ligashesky? Time will tell but there has been a concerted effort to make this group better in all phases of the special teams. Bigger returns, better tackling, consistent field goal kicking and no penalties are all areas that needed improvement.

Create Turnovers

The defense needs to show they can create turnovers after only creating a league low 11 (7 interceptions, 4 fumbles) in 2013. The defense needs to prove with every defender that steps on the field that they can play aggressive and be an attacking group. It is a mentality that Romeo Crennel and his staff have been trying to implement since day one and now it is time to put the plan into motion.

Players to Watch

Case Keenum

It will be the Case Keenum show to start off the preseason and he should get a good amount of work to open up the preseason. Keenum will have to prove he can grasp this new offense and produce with little turnovers. Understanding the offense will be key for the quarterback to be successful.

Justin Tuggle

Justin Tuggle has a real opportunity to make his mark and push for a starting spot next to Brian Cushing in the middle of the defense. He has been a standout during training camp, but now he has to put it on film against an opponent. He is a cerebral player on the field and it has helped separate him from others in his position group.

Jadeveon Clowney

The least talked about number one overall selection from the NFL Draft in recent years, Jadeveon Clowney has been cleared for action on Saturday. He should get a handful of plays to get a taste of NFL game speed, but don’t expect an extended look to start the preseason. It will be an early look on what Clowney will look like in Romeo Crennel’s defense.

Derek Newton

It will be pretty interesting to see if Derek Newton has improved since last season and if his hard work over the offseason has paid off. The lighter and more agile Newton was named the starting right tackle early in OTAs and it has all fallen on him to keep his position.

Ryan Fitzpatrick

There has been plenty of criticism on Ryan Fitzpatrick and what he has accomplished before he arrived in Houston. Fitzpatrick has been working to eliminate the “mental clutter” and make better decisions as quarterback. Bill O’Brien and George Godsey are working hard to make Fitzpatrick a capable quarterback in this offense, and how much he has learned will take shape in their preseason opener.

Under the Radar Players To Watch

Andre Hal. Cornerback (#38)

Rookie Cornerback from Vanderbilt has made some strides during training camp.

Jason Ankrah, Outside Linebacker (#65)

Rookie outside linebacker from Nebraska who has made a good transition to his new position.

Any Slot Wide Receiver

The position will be utilized the right way in the offense. It will be a refreshing sight to see.

Austin Brown, Defensive Lineman (#71)

A high motor defensive lineman who made his living in college by outworking opponents.

Mike Mohamed, Inside Linebacker (#54)

The veteran inside linebacker has risen up the depth chart. His physical play has impressed.

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