With a 28-0 defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings, the Houston Texans have ended their 2011 preseason schedule with a 3-1 record and now wait until the regular season opener on September 11th.
The defeat or score is nothing to fret about as no Texans starter was active for tonight's game. The game was played by all the reserve players as they battled for spots on the 53-man roster as the Texans seem set on their starting units.
The stars of the night, if you gave out such a fake award in a meaningless preseason game, had to be back-up quarterback Matt Leinart and battling-for-a-roster-spot tight end Garrett Graham. Leinart had his best game of the preseason as he went 13-of-16 for 145 yards while Graham likely cemented his spot ahead of Anthony Hill with six catches for 71 yards.
Another Texan-hopeful who played well enough to likely clinch a roster spot was recently signed veteran wide receiver Bryant Johnson who was the beneficiary of a weak battle for receivers four and five. Johnson, signed on August 30th, had three catches for 64 yards and was Leinart's favorite target in the Metrodome.
A curious story to watch this weekend will be fourth string running back, and former Texas Longhorn, Chris Ogbonnaya. With Steve Slaton not playing again and rumored to be one of the 27 cuts this weekend, Ogbonnaya entered the game with a shot at stealing a spot. Sixty-two rushing yards and 4.4 yards-per-carry later, Ogbonnaya has at least given himself a shot at making an NFL roster this season, but no one's sure if that's Houston's 53-man group or someone else's.
Defensively, the back-ups could work on tackling drills as they could not wrap up and bring down Vikings rookie quarterback Christian Ponder at all. Ponder ran for 61 yards in the first half as the Texans did their best to make him seem like Mike Vick.
Roster hopeful outside linebacker Bryan Braman did have a sack, to bring Houston's preseason total to 15, and a special teams tackle to bolster his chances of hearing good news this weekend. I'd be remissed if I didn't mention defensive end Damione Lewis, inside linebacker Xavier Adibi, and defensive end Tim Jamison as having good games. Lewis and Adibi made some good tackles along the line of scrimmage while Jamison, who had a consistent and strong preseason, showed his ability to get penetration and disrupt plays in the backfield.
Overall, the game gave head coach Gary Kubiak and company game tape that they will breakdown and help make their final few decisions. Stay tuned to Battle Red Blog and SB Nation Houston for all your roster moves before everyone's attention turns to the Indianapolis Colts and the 2011 regular season opener.