Reporting Paul Gallant
We all saw how good the Texans defense could be last season.
But let’s be honest…they were rarely challenged by any real quarterbacks.
Sure they mashed Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger into a bloody pulp, sacking him five times in week 4. That being said, they were missing two starting offensive linemen and running back Rashard Mendenhall. I’m not so sure the result would have been the same with Pittsburgh at full strength.
That was the good.
The bad? Saints quarterback Drew Brees tore up the Texans to the tune of 370 yards and three scores. And while Panthers signal caller Cam Newton didn’t have quite the yard output, he still ran for 55 yards and tossed two touchdown passes – one of them a 28-yarder that saw Carolina receiver Steve Smith toast Houston corner Jonathan Joseph.
The rest of the quarterbacks Houston faced last season were nothing to write home about. That won’t be the case in 2012, where the Texans will be tested by Denver’s Peyton Manning, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, Chicago’s Jay Cutler, Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, and New England’s Tom Brady.
Can Kareem Jackson be the de-facto starting corner opposite Jonathan Joseph? Does Alan Ball have a leg up with past experience in defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ scheme? Can Roc Carmichael contribute after missing an entire season? What can Sherrick McManis contribute? And will Brandon Harris continue to impress like he has in training camp? All could have an opportunity to prove themselves against Cam Newton, who proved last year he’s well on his way towards becoming one of the league’s best quarterbacks.
Yes it’s the preseason. And yeah, Newton will likely play less than a quarter. But with the slate ahead of them, it’s crucial that the unheralded Texan corners take advantage of this opportunity. They’re going to need it when the regular season kicks off.