Four Players I'm Excited to See Play Against the Patriots
Beyond the obvious, here are four players to pay attention to Thursday Night
The Houston Texans play their first preseason game Thursday night against the New England Patriots. It’s the first time in a long time I am seriously excited about a preseason game. 11 practices are in the books and it’s time for the Texans to showcase what they have been working on.
“Some guys rise to the occasion when the lights come on, and some guys unfortunately don’t,” DeMeco Ryans said earlier this week. “So, it’ll be really good, really interesting to see who continues to shine and make plays in that competitive match against the Patriots. So, I’m really looking forward to it to see which young guy is going to step up and make plays for us.”
There are two obvious players to watch against the Patriots. Quarterback C.J. Stroud and defensive end Will Anderson are the main attractions when it comes to paying attention to this game. Derek Stingley and Jalen Pitre aren’t far behind them. So I will leave them out of the ensuing list. I went with players I believe will play a good amount in this game, and could impact the 2023 roster in a variety of ways.
#13 Tank Dell, WR
The rookie wideout has flashed some unique potential in training camp. Dell is quick as a hiccup and when he separates, few players catch up to him. There absolutely exists the potential that Dell is a guy who can take the majority of the slot wide receiver repetitions in 2023. There will need to be some consistency.
Yes, Dell has flashed, but it hasn’t been a daily occurrence. The above quote about when some players play better with the lights on definitely feels like something that could be true about Tank Dell. I would expect him to play a good amount too. There’s definitely some highlight reel potential to Dell’s preseason debut.
#8 John Metchie, WR
It has been amazing that John Metchie has returned to practicing football after his serious illness last year. It has to be extremely special to finally play in an NFL game, albeit a preseason game. As for football, Metchie has a chance to be a key player in the wide receiver pecking order.
Metchie has been smooth in a lot of his work in training camp. He hasn’t flashed incredible plays yet, but he’s been reliable when quarterbacks find him. The last time he played in a game he caught six passes for 97 yards and a score against the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship. With 614 days between game action, Metchie has to be chomping at the bit.
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#39 Henry To’oTo’o, LB
The rookie linebacker from Alabama has impressed in training camp. The best linebacking units I have seen in training camp have been when he and Christian Harris share the field. To’oTo’o’s play recognition is incredible. He is constantly putting himself around the ball.
The knock on him was his size and athleticism. Neither was close to elite for the linebacker spot. Well, his play recognition helps with the speed aspect of his game getting him to spots, but we haven’t seen him tackle someone to the ground. I can’t wait to see To’oTo’o meet a Patriots player at his spot and see what happens.
#91 Roy Lopez, DT
Roy Lopez isn’t for sure on the team, but he’s close. I really like what I have seen from him in camp to this point. He’s been in on tackles for loss and even sacked a quarterback a few times.
The defensive tackle room is crowded and talented. Maliek Collins and Sheldon Rankins should start this year. Hassan Ridgeway is a clear veteran piece in the room. If there are only four spots at that position, Lopez can’t let up in his quest to be the fourth defensive tackle. This is also a position where you really see what guys are capable of when it comes to comparing even padded practices to actual games.
BONUS: #38 Cobi Francis, CB
I haven’t written much about Francis. I think that might be a lie. I may not have written about him at all. But, Francis is someone to watch. The competition at cornerback isn’t fierce, but Francis sticking on this team wouldn’t be the most shocking thing in the world.
He played a little last year for the Texans after being an undrafted free agent. In the offseason, Francis went on a summer retreat with Jalen Pitre, Derek Stingley, and Christian Harris to work on their coverage skills. He’s made a play here or there in training camp, but a few standout reps in the preseason game could get some more eyeballs on his training camp work going forward.
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