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FB - I have to admit that when the Texans signed Lawrence Vickers during the early part of training camp, I basically pencilled him in as the future lead blocker for Arian Foster. James Casey has completely changed that equation.
I realize that he had two holding penalties against the 49ers, but it’s clear that Casey adds a huge dimension at the FB spot. He doesn’t look out of sorts as an in-line blocker, and has been fantastic in terms of catching the ball out of the backfield. Saturday, Casey had receptions for 38 yards. In the second half, he had a picture-perfect play when Matt Leinart play-faked with a deep drop, and floated one over the middle right to a wide open Casey, who ran up the seam for about a 20 yard gain.
Based on Kubiak’s offense and desire for TE/seam-type players, Casey as a FB fits this offense perfectly. I bet Vickers still makes the roster because it’s the safest play, but Casey will start at fullback.
Backup RB – Ben Tate wasn’t as good as his blistering performance against the Saints, but stilll ran for 52 yards on 4.7 yards per carry. Derrick Ward scored from short distance, but only averaged 2.2 YPC, and had a fumble. My best guess is that Gary Kubiak has more faith in the proven Ward right now, but Tate could easily supplant him as the 2nd tailback.
Backup S – Anyone who saw Troy Nolan knows he’s not only going to make this team, but seriously vie for playing time. Between some games he had last season and a 2 INT performance against the 49ers, Nolan is somebody who seems to have a knack for making plays.
With Glover Quin being used in some nickle/dime situations as a CB, I expect Nolan to get a bunch of snaps during the regular season.
NT – Shaun Cody is the guy at this spot, and Earl Mitchell will be the primary backup, especially on running downs. I know many people have been concerned about the Texans’ run defense after the first two exhibition games, but it’s hard to really gauge a run D until the games count. Let’s see how they fare for four quarters. Holding the San Francisco running game (3 first round picks on the OL) to only 3.4 yard per carry was a solid effort.
CB opposite Johnathan Joseph – Based on the way the playing time was parceled out on Saturday night, one would figure that Kareem Jackson has solidifed his spot as a starter. Otherwise, why did it take Jason Allen so long to get into the game?
I feel like it’s a repetitive opinion, but we’re in wait-and-see mode with Kareem. Has he looked better in the preseason? Sure. But I haven’t seen the obvious jump in performance like we’ve seen in Brice McCain, who has made about 3-5 plays on the football in 3 exhibition games.
To really judge and evaluate Kareem Jackson, we’ll have to see how he holds up for an entire game against the Colts.