Houston Texans team analyst John Harris shares his notes from Game 3 of the preseason against the 49ers.
That’s all ! The popular Warner Brothers refrain at the end of a Bugs Bunny cartoon now applies to the 2022 pre-season.
It’s now for the whole enchilada after the Texans finished the preseason 3-0 with a shutout against the San Francisco 49ers. Here are my final Harris Hits from Thursday night’s win over the Niners.
In my humble opinion, the offensive line was the story of the offensive side of the ball. Humans wearing white jerseys were punched, moved against their will, bruised and beaten throughout the Texans’ victory. THAT, more than anything, stood out. Double teams. Combined blocks. Individual blocks. It was impressive to watch, to say the least. I asked Lovie Smith about the physique after the game. Well…I told him that exact sighting to see if I was blind or missing something. Luckily, he totally agreed with me. The physique of the whole team is just different. Totally and completely different, and it is HIGHLY obvious.
One of the reasons the run blocking went to a different level on Thursday night was the return of rookie Kenyon Green. The young man from Atascocita High School is nothing if not an absolute hammer in the running game. I tried to focus on him throughout the night for many reasons and he helped open some holes on the left side. He was next to fellow rookie Austin Deculus for much of the night. On Marlon Mack’s best run of the night, a 24-yard run down the left side, Green scored a brace with center Jimmy Morrissey, then moved to occupy linebacker. That move to linebacker opened the hole for Mack. I thought back to that Wild Card loss to the Colts in 2018 when Mack hit the gas and escaped to the outside on his longest run of the night. As soon as Mack burst, I just yelled “JUICE!” He still has some and if he runs like that – whoa.
Oh, one final note on Green and OL… In the third quarter, QB Kyle Allen fired a dart at rookie Seth Green (Houston at Houston at Houston) on a 24-yard completion. It was a laser, and the rookie grabbed and took a hit. Although the offensive line/trench side of my brain said the play was the result of two rookies on that left side handling a T/E stunt. Those two didn’t do much together, but the way how they handled this stunt was a textbook. Green began to mount his defensive tackle on the field, and when the defensive end disappeared inside, Deculus took over and Green slid inside to handle the defensive end on a loop. It wasn’t just a textbook for a G/T handling that stunt, but all the more impressive considering these two are rookies who hardly played one next to the other. another, if ever, to camp this summer.
I know many of you will be wondering why I started with the offensive line and not RB rookie Dameon Pierce. I’m just doing what Pierce would like – give credit to his OL first. But do not get me wrong. There is something special with this young man. In the two-plus decades of Texas football, some players have successfully coaxed Texas fans out of their seats, craning their necks to watch.
Every time Will Fuller V has traveled a deep road.
Everything JJ Watt did.
Every catch of Andre Johnson’s career.
Pierce makes fans want to watch.
I’ve been asked more questions about him than any Texan in the last three or four years. I’ve had family members across the country text me asking if they should sign him into fantasy football. 11 carries this preseason for 86 yards. His touchdown run lit up the fans and his entire team. Each offensive player raised their arms with the universal touchdown signal. AJ Cann lifted it into the air like Simba and Mufasa in The Lion King. Fellow RB Dare Ogunbowale and Rex Burkhead ran onto the field to celebrate with him. His footballing character is contagious and refreshing.
But Pierce was not alone as RB. Mack was also excellent, averaging 5.5 yards per carry on ten carries. Ogunbowale didn’t receive as many touches as last week but showed some movement, power and receiving ability. Royce Freeman played both running back and fullback. Burkhead is as reliable as it gets. Before the game, I felt pretty confident about how the RB room would look after the practice squad was reduced to 53 players. But, after last night, I’m more confused than ever because I don’t know how I feel about taking just three or four of this running back quintet.
Again, I may have buried the lede without mentioning anyone from a defensive unit that ruled out the Niners. Inside defenders Michael Dwumfour and rookie Kurt Hinish had five TFLs and two sacks. Desmond King II and rookie Jake Hansen had interceptions. The defensive front harassed starting QB Trey Lance throughout his time on the field. Double digit TFL (10). Two bags. Two interceptions. Constant pressure.
The defense was not an individual performance, but rather a collective Wu-Tang in which several guys got on the microphone to spit bars. Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison had a few shots on the pitch, and as I’ve said throughout camp, they’ve got juice. I mean, did you see Jerry chase down Trey Lance on a third down? My God. The Texans didn’t have to be exotic to put themselves under pressure. Different combinations of defensive linemen in the pass rush, forward defensive players consistently winning in one-on-one matchups… 49ers offensive linemen in white jerseys had a rough night with linemen Texans defenses.
Starting in the second half, I saw Davis Mills standing near the edge of the sideline, planning to get back into the game. I wasn’t totally shocked and I was totally shocked, all at the same time. I’m glad the coaching staff got him back in the game because he finished with another swing. All in all, he didn’t light up the night sky with gorgeous football parabolas, but he did make a hell of a throw for a touchdown to Chris Moore. I went deep into the end zone as the Texans approached the red zone and stood almost directly under the right post. So when Mills dropped the ball in midfield, Moore was in my same line of sight. He hadn’t even made his turn inside the field when Mills dropped the ball. Then, like football magic, Moore turned slightly inside and a spiral from Mills hit him between the one and five on his jersey for the touchdown.
The numbers weren’t overwhelming for Mills throughout the preseason, but he produced two killer drives during his six drives on the night. His interception was on a brilliant pitch, actually. He put that ball in a perfect spot and 49ers CB Samuel Womack III just made an amazing play on the ball. I can live with a throw like that. Now, the four drives the Texans haven’t scored? Umm, just a first try. The same thing happened in Los Angeles. When it was good, it was great. When it was bad, they didn’t move the ball at all. Again, there were no Brandin Cooks, Justin Britt, Laremy Tunsil and Pharaoh Brown. I’ll worry a little more when the whole gang is back, producing only one in six touchdowns. The race game that showed up on Thursday night gave me a lot of hope that once the regular season is over, the offense will find its identity and level.
DL Derek Rivers continued to put a great game to tape. The fourth down save late in the third quarter wasn’t quite him, but damn close. He was everywhere again and his overall game forced me to ask Marc and André to come up with nine DLs for the 53-player roster. It’s so hard, honestly. Rivers didn’t just flash in a moment or a game, he was consistently excellent throughout training drills, reps in the team’s training period and all pre-season games. When he came out of Youngstown State as a rookie in 2017, I loved his ability to get to QB. Then I saw him walk down the Greenbrier turf in a joint practice with the Patriots and my heart sank for the young man. That injury started future injuries, and he never really got to find his way, but in that training camp he told Marc he felt like he was finally back to himself with a new confidence in him. It was very obvious. I held my breath that when he was on the grass, he was going to be able to go away and be fine. Still hoping that is the case because he can be a definite asset on this defense in 2022.
It’s been a long month and more, but the Texans couldn’t have finished it better. Win by shutout against a team in the playoffs. Ended the preseason 3-0. Hope Rivers is fine so we can’t say any major injuries other than the loss of John Metchie III before the start of training camp due to leukemia (big loss but hopefully JMIII will win his fight against leukemia in a rout).
17 regular season games start in 17 days, and it’s the Colts who come to NRG for the opener.
Thank you so much for reading all of my Texans Camp Harris Hits and the three I made for preseason games. It’s time to recharge and prepare for Indy. See you soon, everyone!!
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