Published August 30, 2013
| Associated Press
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Houston Texans look set at backup quarterback no matter who they pick, and the Dallas Cowboys have problems with depth on defense.
Those were among the conclusions to be drawn from the Texans' 24-6 victory Thursday night in a preseason finale that was missing all but maybe one starter.
Houston quarterbacks Case Keenum and T.J. Yates continued their solid preseason play, but got a big assist from an offensive line that pushed around Dallas' backup defenders all night.
"Obviously their group played better than our group," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "I think in some ways it does reflect on the depth of the football team right now."
The Cowboys have to decide whether to keep Alex Tanney as a third quarterback. The Texans made his life miserable, sacking him seven times.
Five things we know about the Texans at the end of the preseason:
BACKUP QB? CHECK: In the battle to back up Matt Schaub, Keenum and Yates have been neck-and-neck all preseason, and nothing changed in the final exhibition game against Dallas. Houston could go with the experience of Yates, who got Houston's first-ever playoff win when Schaub was hurt in 2011. Then there's the potential of Keenum, who spent last season on the practice squad after leaving the University of Houston as the NCAA's all-time passing leader.
WHAT'S UP WITH REED? The Texans may have to decide by Saturday whether to keep injured safety Ed Reed on the physically unable to perform list, which would cost him at least the first six games. The 34-year-old Reed had his second hip surgery in three years. The last one cost the nine-time Pro Bowler the first six games of 2010.
FOSTER'S PEOPLE: Running back Arian Foster could be ready for the Sept. 8 opener at San Diego, but he missed most of training camp with a right calf strain and then a sore back. There's a bevy of backs behind him. Ben Tate is an established backup, and Deji Karim was the leading rusher in the preseason before sitting the finale against Dallas. Cierre Wood had 107 yards rushing against the Cowboys, and Dennis Johnson added 79 yards and a touchdown.
SMITH SITS ONE MORE: Defensive Antonio Smith will sit against the Chargers as the final game of a three-game suspension for ripping the helmet off Miami's Richie Incognito and hitting the Dolphins guard with it. Dynamic end J.J. Watt will be out there, though. And the Texans seem to apply pressure no matter who's out there.
JOHNSON AND COMPANY: Andre Johnson is healthy and ready, as he showed last week with 131 yards receiving in his only extensive work of the preseason. Rookie DeAndre Hopkins, a first-round pick, is already listed as a starter and expected to be ready for the opener even though he missed the last two preseason games with a concussion. DeVier Posey caught two passes against Dallas in his return from an Achilles tendon tear in last year's playoffs.
Five things we know about the Cowboys:
ROMO'S TIME TO SHINE: Tony Romo has the richest contract in franchise history and a much bigger stake in the offense. He avoided any bad plays in limited preseason action, and was in the face of rookies when they made mistakes. He needs a long playoff run to justify the big payday. It could help save coach Jason Garrett's job, too.
FEELING THE RUSH: Defensive end DeMarcus Ware looks like he's ready for a big year in Dallas' new four-man front. He'll need help from the other side, though, and Anthony Spencer may not be ready for the opener after arthroscopic knee surgery early in training camp. The Cowboys don't have any proven NFL sack specialists beyond those two.
ON GUARDS: The Cowboys seem to think Ron Leary and Doug Free could be the starting guards for the opener Sept. 8 against the New York Giants. If so, Jermey Parnell is the likely starter at right tackle, which means four players would be making their first NFL starts at their positions.
PLAYMAKING LINEBACKERS: There's plenty of anticipation to see how Sean Lee and Bruce Carter look in the new 4-3 defense. New defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin made stars of similar players at Tampa Bay. Lee just signed a six-year extension worth at least $42 million.
SPECIAL TEAMS STRUGGLES: New special teams coach Rich Bisaccia has some work to do to get the Cowboys where they need to be on special teams. They've had multiple breakdowns throughout the preseason — everything from blocked field goals and botched punts to long returns given up on kickoffs and punts.
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