Wellcome Sports fan’s , The Panthers open their preseason schedule on Wednesday evening when they welcome the Houston Texans to Charlotte, and hopefully we’ll get to see an injury-free contest where the coaching staff can learn more about which players they want to use when building their 53-man roster.
While the game won’t count for much other than a chance for the coaches to scout players, it’s useful for us to know a little bit about the team we’ll be watching face off with the Panthers. For that, let’s turn to our friends from Battle Red Blog to see what they expect from the Texans this year.
Falcons vs Dolphins
NFL Preseason Week 1
Even Time: 7:00 p ET
Date: Thursday, August 10
Notable free agent additions: None
Notable free agent departures: A.J. Bouye, Vince Wilfork (retirement)
Falcons vs Dolphins
Trades: Brock Osweiler to Cleveland, trade up in the first round for DeShaun Watson with Cleveland, trade into fourth round for Carlos Watkins with Cleveland
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies
DeShaun Watson, Zach Cunningham, D’Onta Foreman, and Carlos Watkins will all likely see the field throughout their rookie year. Watson of course is the quarterback of the future, but look for Cunningham and Foreman to carve out big roles this season as a nickel linebacker and short yardage back, respectively. Watkins will likely see plenty of snaps as a rotational interior pass rusher behind J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.
Biggest offseason addition
DeShaun Watson, hands down. Anytime your team adds a potential franchise quarterback, it’s automatically the biggest move of the offseason. Whether it was through free agency last year with Osweiler or through the draft this year for Watson, the Texans have been ultra-aggressive in their approach to finding a capable signal caller in the post-Matt Schaub era. Hopefully Watson will finally be the guy to end their arduous search.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp
Who will start at quarterback on opening day? Tom Savage and DeShaun Watson will both compete for the job, though Savage has the early leg up in the competition due to his experience. If Watson shows up to camp and flashes something special early, however, we may see him start sooner than anyone previously anticipated.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp
When will DeAndre Hopkins and Jadeveon Clowney be signed to contract extensions? The Texans have quite a bit of free cap space at the moment with A.J. Bouye taking his talents to Jacksonville instead of staying in Houston, so presumably all of that money – 29.8 million to be exact – will be set aside to keep Hopkins and Clowney on the team long term. Both players seem optimistic about deals getting done, with Hopkins the more likely candidate to be extended this offseason, but until the ink has dried on both contracts there will still be some apprehensiveness among Texans fans about the situation.
Notable injuries heading into training camp
No star players have sustained any major injuries this offseason so far, though J.J. Watt’s recovery from last offseason’s back ailments still loom large over the organization. As long as Watt is healthy and ready to hit the ground running in August, expect the Texans to be an elite defense yet again in 2017. If he still needs more time to “get right”, however, it may be another slow start for him this September as the training staff eases him back into a full time workload.