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Preseason Watch List: AFC South

A detailed look at the key questions facing each team in the preseason


The Texans opted to move training camp away from Houston for the first time in franchise history, heading to the Greenbrier in West Virginia. Houston is coming off an improbable division title (9-7, 1st in the AFC South) and playoff victory against the Raider. It's a testament to the coaching staff that Houston had a winning record in spite of losing 3-time defensive player of the year J.J. Watt early in the season and having a moribund offense that scored just 279 points (17.4 per game). Watt is healthy, and the team has added competition at the quarterback position to go from playoff pretender to champion contender. 

Camp Details:

  • When: 7/25 (Rookies and Veterans)
  • Where: The Greenbrier (White Sulphur Springs, WV)
  • Open to Public: Yes (See Website)

Preseason Game Schedule:

  • Aug 9 -- @Carolina 7:30 pm EDT
  • Aug 19 -- New England 8:00 pm
  • Aug 26 -- @New Orleans 8:00 pm
  • Aug 31 -- Dallas 8:00 pm

What We're Watching:

  • Finding a quarterback -- The Brock Osweiler signing was an abject disaster, as the free agent threw for 2,957 yards and 15 touchdowns in 15 games. The Texans traded Osweiler to Cleveland in the preseason and drafted Deshaun Watson in the 1st round. Watson, a two-way playmaker who won the national championship last season, will compete with returning veteran Tom Savage. Watson is the enticing prospect, but Savage has experience in the system. If Savage wins the job, fantasy owners need to temper expectations for a rebound. If Watson wins the job in the preseason, upside abounds for the offense. 
  • Lamar Miller's health and upside -- Lamar Miller signed a massive free agent contract to move from Miami to Houston, but failed to live up to preseason expectations. Miller barely cracked the Top 20 at his position and struggled to gain yards after contact. He missed the final two games with an ankle injury, and Miller insists his struggles were related to his injury. The Texans used a 3rd round pick on Donta Foreman as an insurance policy, but Miller will still be a workhorse if he has a strong preseason.  
  • Is DeAndre Hopkins set for a bounce-back season? -- DeAndre Hopkins suffered from Houston's lack of quality quarterbacking and set career lows in yards-per-reception (12.2) and catch rate (51.7%) in spite of another massive target share (151 targets). The Texans cannot afford to misuse Hopkins again as he is set to enter free agency after the season. 
  • J.J. Watt's health -- Watt missed 13 games last season and had back surgery, but appears healthy entering training camp. Watt's presence can turn an excellent defense into the league's best. 
  • Putting Mike Vrabel's stamp on the defense -- Romeo Crennel took a "promotion" to Assistant Head Coach so Houston could keep Mike Vrabel happy and hand over the reins as defensive coordinator. Vrabel is a star on the rise, and will probably be a head coach in a year or two, because of his intensity and attention to detail. The Texans won't change the system or terminology, but Vrabel will inevitably put his mark on the unit.  


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