While the wins and loss records during the NFL preseason is about as meaningless as it gets, what matters most is development and seeing how certain individuals hold up against opposing talent.
The 2-0 Texans are about get a real gauge of where they are when Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers role into NRG on Saturday night (7 p.m.) for the final dress rehearsal before scores start to matter in a couple of weeks. Brady, who is arguably the game’s greatest quarterback, will likely play the entire first half and push the Texans secondary and Lovie Smith’s Tampa 2 defense to the limits.
“Oh, this is the best test you can have,” Texans safety Justin Reid said Thursday. “I mean we’re going against the defending Super Bowl champs, Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time, so this is the people you want to play.
“I still have yet to pick him off, even though I should have. I wish I could have some of those back, so this will be a fun game to play against him.”
This should be a huge test for the Texans secondary, which has been much maligned. If the first-team unit can hold its own against the likes of Bucs receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, even in limited snaps, the confidence gained could carry over into the season.
Reid knows this will be a big challenge for the secondary, even during a preseason game.
“Yeah, they’ve got a couple of real good receivers over there in Mike Evans and Godwin, so matching up against those guys, especially being a DB, making sure we take away the deep ball, and then also just playing the run physically,” he said. “We want to just be solid across the board, not beat ourselves, and just play sound fundamental football.”
Texans coach David Culley, who in his final preparation game before his first game as an NFL head coach, is looking forward to seeing how his defense matches up against Tampa’s No.1s.
“Yeah, I’m just eager to see them go against the defending Super Bowl champions, which is a good test for us, seeing their frontline guys against our frontline guys,” said Culley, whose secondary held up well last week against the Cowboys. “Looking forward to that.”
It will be interesting to see how long Culley will leave his starters and main players on the field considering some tough evaluations the team still needs to make on players on the bubble as the cutdown to the 53-man roster looms. Seeing your top players matching up against the Super Bowl champs versus evaluating players for critical spots is a tough dilemma for any franchise.
Culley seems more concerned with getting his starters more reps to get them ready for the season.
“The final evaluation is the most important,” he said. “But it is important for us to also take those guys that hadn’t played a whole bunch this preseason to be able to get them at least through a half and maybe the start of the third quarter to where they at least know what it feels like to go through at least a half and a quarter, coming out for halftime adjustments. And we’ll try to do that.”