There were storylines aplenty surrounding the Houston Texans in the preseason, and thanks to 'Hard Knocks,' we got to witness them all.
The most important issue facing head coach Bill O'Brien was deciding who would be the team's starting quarterback. After allowing Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett to battle it out in camp and through the first two exhibition games, O'Brien finally made his choice.
With the regular season set to kick off Thursday, here are the five most important things we learned from the Texans' preseason.
More from FoxSports
1. Brian Hoyer is the guy
After giving both Hoyer and Mallet first-team reps in camp, O'Brien named Hoyer the starter at quarterback, citing the veteran's consistency as a main reason. Hoyer completed 16-of-26 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown in the preseason, for a passer rating of 98.4. He may not be Aaron Rodgers, but Hoyer has proved he can move the offense. Teammates have praised Hoyer's leadership skills and he should provide far more stability than the team had last year at the position.
2. Alfred Blue has big shoes to fill
The groin injury to star running back Arian Foster is a big blow to Houston's running game and the offense in general. Foster will be out for at least the first part of the season after undergoing surgery, but the Texans showed faith in their reserves by not signing another back after the Pro Bowler went down. Blue, who averaged 4.8 yards per carry in the preseason, will take over as starter. He won't necessarily be expected to perform like Foster, but he will need to be productive to help take pressure off Hoyer.
3. Jadeveon Clowney is back, but can he make a difference?
Clowney, coming off of microfracture surgery on his knee, returned to practice Aug. 17. While he's back working with the team, he didn't appear in a preseason game. Houston is bringing him along slowly and he's expected to play once the regular season starts. Just how effective he'll be after appearing in only four games last season is still a question.
4. Brian Ciushing may be on the brink of a big year
Cushing, who had back-to-back knee injuries in 2012 and 2013, said during camp he's finally feeling back to the way he did before the injuries. If so, that's great news for the Houston defense and rough news for opposing offenses. In 2011, Cushing racked up 114 tackles, with four sacks, two interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles. A return to form would make a J.J. Watt-led defense even more imposing.
5. Bill O'Brien loves the f-word
If "Hard Knocks" taught us anything about the Houston Texans, it's that their coach has a fondness for dropping f-bombs. It's unclear how the revelation that a football coach swears like, well, a football coach, captured the public's imagination, but the discovery of O'Brien's favorite word made a number of headlines this summer. The coach figures to be relieved when the constant presence of cameras is no longer an issue.