It’s an interconference clash on the gridiron in the battle of the Lone Star State in week 3 preseason action from the NFL. The Houston Texans make the trip on the road as they travel to face the Dallas Cowboys Saturday night. Houston earned a 30-23 home win over the Lions last Saturday night in week 2 to even their preseason mark. Dallas battled to pick up a 14-10 victory over the Rams in a game played at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu Saturday night. The teams have met five times in the regular season with Dallas owning a 3-2 edge: Houston earned a 19-16 home win in the last matchup on October 7, 2018.
Houston Texans Figuring Things Out Without Clowney
Houston bounced back from a two-point loss on the road in Green Bay to open the preseason as they dropped the Lions at home last week. The Texans moved the ball 75 yards in 11 plays on Deshaun Watson’s and the majority of the starters lone drive in the contest, capped by a four-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins. Houston was up 10-0 after the opening quarter only to see the Lions tie the game: Joe Webb III’s 31-yard scoring pass to Vyncint Smith with 40 seconds to play in the half gave them a 17-10 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. The Texans held a 410-388 edge in total yards, picked up 22 first downs to Detroit’s 18 and controlled the time of possession by a 34:54 to 25:06 margin. Both teams turned the ball over twice with Houston giving up a defensive score on a fumble return.
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) August 18, 2019
Watson should get more run in this game as the team tunes up for the regular season: he’s five of seven for 61 yards and a score in the preseason. With AJ McCarron still injured, that has given Joe Webb III (39 of 65, 472 yards, two TD, three INT, 59 rushing yards) a chance to establish himself as the potential backup QB. With Lamar Miller and Duke Johnson Jr. not getting any action so far, Greg Howell (15 carries, 84 yards, TD) has led the team on the ground while Damarea Crockett (15 carries, 56 yards, TD) and Karan Higdon (15 carries, 50 yards) are trying to earn a spot on the depth chart. In the passing game, Steven Mitchell (six receptions, 55 yards) leads the team while tight end Jerell Adams (five grabs, 50 yards, TD) is right behind him. The Texans are evaluating talent at the receiver spots with Keke Coutee out with an injury: someone has to step up to potentially fill the slot receiver role alongside Hopkins and Will Fuller V in the three-wide set for the team. Ka’imi Fairbairn has hit five of six extra points and all five of his field-goal tries with a long of 50 on the preseason. Houston is figuring things out defensively as former first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney has not reported to the team after he was given the franchise tag in the offseason. There are reports he could be traded but in the interim, Brennan Scarlett has been filling in for him.
Watson could see more time in Game 3.
“Every chance you get to play and step on that field is very important,” Watson said. “It’s more reps, so more reps is more experience, and more experience is more confidence and more opportunities for you to improve and get better, and get ready for the real action.”
Dallas Cowboys Hoping to Get Up to Speed
Dallas picked up the win over a Rams team that left most of their starters back on the mainland Saturday night. The Cowboys chewed up 6:28 off the clock in their opening drive, which was Dak Prescott’s lone drive of the night. They went 97 yards in 12 plays, capped by a 14-yard TD run by Tony Pollard: Prescott was five of five for 64 yards before taking a seat. Dallas was outgained 270-251 in the contest despite a 20-14 edge in first downs and held a 30:58 to 29:02 advantage in time of possession. Both teams turned the ball over twice: Cooper Rush’s eight-yard touchdown pass to Devin Smith with 1:50 to play in the third quarter gave Dallas the 14-10 edge that ended up being the final score. The big news from the weekend was that the agent of holdout running back Ezekiel Elliott was upset with Jerry Jones’ quip about “Zeke who?” when asked about his status.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) August 18, 2019
Prescott has hit all nine of his throws in the preseason for 87 yards and will see extended time in this contest. The battle for the #2 spot is going to be between Cooper Rush (26 of 42, 225 yards, TD) and Mike White (16 of 33, 117 yards, INT) with Rush likely holding the upper hand in that clash right now. Should Elliott not report, Alfred Morris (three carries, six yards) would likely be the #1 back though Pollard (nine carries, team-high 58 yards, TD), Mike Weber (12 carries, 30 yards) and Jordan Chunn (six carries, 22 yards) along with Darius Jackson (nine carries, 21 yards) are battling for a spot. Smith leads the team with six catches for 78 yards and a score in the passing game as he tries to earn a spot in the mix. Michael Gallup (three receptions, 50 yards) is stepping up with Amari Cooper dealing with a heel strain. Brett Maher has hit both extra-point attempts but is only three of five on field goal attempts with a long of 40 yards.
Update (8/22): Dallas has reportedly offered Elliott something similar to a four-year deal that Le’Veon Bell signed for $52.5 million with $35 million guaranteed. That’s about $10 million less than what Todd Gurley (tops in the league for RBs) is getting in guaranteed money. But according to ESPN’s Ed Werder, Elliott wants at minimum, the second-highest deal for running backs in the NFL.
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