When the overhauled Texans play the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday night at NRG Stadium, there will be a major increase in playing time for their starters.
Because this represents the final preseason game in what amounts to a dress rehearsal before the regular season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Texans coach David Culley plans to play his starters into the third quarter.
“Well, we are going to play them more for sure," Culley said. "We want those guys to get a feel of what it is like to go into the second half of a ball game, we haven’t had that yet. The plan is to try to take them into the third quarter and to see how we handle that adjustment from the first half to the second half.”
Of course, it's against star quarterback Tom Brady and a strong returning corps of proven veteran players. It's still preseason football, but it amounts to a test of the Texans.
“You know the last two have been a good challenge for us too, but it’s the third preseason game," Culley said. "Obviously, they are who they are and we are looking forward to it.”
The Texans are 2-0 in the preseason, but struggled offensively last Saturday in a 20-14 win over the Dallas Cowboys. They went 0 for 10 on third downs, which Culley called "unacceptable."
Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who hasn't thrown any touchdown passes or interceptions through two preseason games, is looking for improvement.
“Absolutely, it's very important," Taylor said. "Every time we step on the field it's important that first and foremost, we go out and do our job, but then we finish it as well. Execution is something that we preach each and every day, and that's what you step on the field, you practice throughout the week on different looks. But more importantly, when it comes to gameday it's about going out and executing and we need that in all phases.”
Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 seasons, including the Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. He has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128.