NFL Nation: 2011 preseason jets-texans

Rapid Reaction: Texans 20, Jets 16

August, 15, 2011
8/15/11
11:56
PM ET
Thoughts from the Jets' 20-16 loss to the Texans in a preseason version of "Monday Night Football."

WHAT IT MEANS: Seven months after their crushing loss to the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game, the Jets began another Super Bowl quest Monday night. Rex Ryan’s cast of characters hasn’t changed much since then and, despite a loss to the Texans, there were enough positives to make it a successful preseason opener. They should’ve pulled it out, but rookie reciever Michael Campbell dropped a potential touchdown pass in the final minute.

ON THE MARK: After some spotty practice performances, quarterback Mark Sanchez (6-for-7, 43 yards) stepped up in prime time and was on point with every pass. His lone incompletion was a drop by backup tight end Matt Mulligan. With two starters missing from the offensive line, the Jets kept it conservative, calling only quick throws for Sanchez. But give him credit for his accuracy; that’s an area he’s working to improve. Sanchez was pulled after one quarter and, no, he didn’t want to fight Ryan to get back on the field.

KEY INJURY: The Jets lost backup center Rob Turner (lower leg) to a potentially serious injury. This injury won’t grab big headlines, but it’s costly because of Turner’s versatility. He can play center, guard, tight end and blocks in the wedge on kickoff returns. Turner, who started for the injured Nick Mangold, was carted off in the first quarter and replaced by third-stringer Robby Felix. Luckily for the Jets, Mangold should be back to practice this week.

THIN LINE: Just the other day, Ryan boasted that the Jets’ top seven offensive linemen are the best in the league. It’s not looking that way now. Not only is Turner out, but second-year lineman Vladimir Ducasse was awful.

Ducasse, who started for injured lineman Brandon Moore, allowed a sack at right guard and another at right tackle. The first sack came on the play in which Turner was injured; Ducasse’s failure to hold off defensive end J.J. Watt put Turner in a vulnerable position. Ducasse also got some work at left guard, where -- hooray -- he didn’t allow a sack.

If Turner’s injury is long term, the Jets will have to sign an experienced backup center. It’s a thin market. In fact, the best available center might be former Giant Shaun O’Hara.

THE PLAXICO VOID: The biggest story of the game -- Plaxico Burress -- wasn’t at the game. He was home, nursing an ankle injury and schmoozing with ESPN’s Mike Tirico in a phone interview during the fourth quarter. (In case you’re wondering, Burress reiterated that he expects to practice full on Wednesday.) Without Burress, the other new receiver, Derrick Mason, was in a prominent role. Mason caught all three passes thrown to him for 21 yards -- a solid debut, considering his lack of practice time with Sanchez.

THE ROOKIES: It was a nice start for the Jets’ draft class, especially nose tackle Kenrick Ellis (one batted pass), QB Greg McElroy (208 yards passing) and WR/KR Jeremy Kerley (32.5 average on kickoff returns). Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson started the game, but didn’t have any wow moments -- although he did have an offsides penalty. Running back Bilal Powell (nine carries, 25 yards) also played well and could push Joe McKnight for the No. 3 tailback job. McKnight left with a possible concussion.

KID QB: With backup QB Mark Brunell (finger) sitting out, McElroy played the second, third and fourth quarters, leading the offense to three field goals and a touchdown (2-yard scoring pass to Patrick Turner). McElroy lost a fumble on a strip sack, but he kept his composure and demonstrated some of the attributes that led the Jets to draft him in the seventh round -- smarts, poise and accuracy. Too bad he doesn’t have a gun.

WHAT A COMEBACK: Eight months removed from breaking his shin in a freak practice collision, safety Jim Leonhard was back on the field, back in the Jets’ starting lineup. It was a welcomed sight for the defense, which relies on Leonhard to make calls on the field.

INJURY WATCH: Linebacker Bart Scott hurt his left ankle/leg on the first play of the game. The replay looked bad, but he returned on the second series. He watched most of the second half with a huge wrap on his leg. Stay tuned.

INACTIVES: QB Mark Brunell, WR Plaxico Burress, C Nick Mangold, RG Brandon Moore, LB Brandon Long, G Trevor Canfield. The Texans played without RB Arian Foster and WR Andre Johnson, their offensive stars.

Observation Deck: Jets-Texans

August, 15, 2011
8/15/11
11:39
PM ET
The Houston Texans are scheduled for only one prime-time game in the regular season, Week 16 at Indianapolis. But the new-look Texans got the Monday Night Football spotlight on the opening weekend of the preseason.

Viewers saw a team already thinned out at running back get thinner as a revamped defense did some nice things in a 20-16 win over the New York Jets.

One man's quick observations…
  1. The Texans lacked some of firepower, with Andre Johnson (finger), Arian Foster (hamstring), Brian Cushing (knee) and prize free-agent cornerback Johnathan Joseph (groin) sitting out. We saw more, sooner, of Jacoby Jones, Derrick Ward, Darryl Sharpton and Jason Allen as a result.
  2. Ward started and didn’t last long before suffering a head injury, leaving the team with only Chris Ogbonnaya and Javarris Williams as its running backs. Houston tried running Ogbonnaya inside too much, but got him going more as a bootleg pass target for Matt Leinart. He caught a short touchdown pass among his team-high six receptions for 67 yards. He ran for the game-winning touchdown from a yard out with just under 2:00 left.
  3. Ankle injuries to Antoine Caldwell and Kasey Studdard could mean the team could be thinned for a time at guard as well.
  4. Matt Schaub hit on just 2 of 5 passes before yielding to Leinart. Schaub was just a touch off and two of his targets, Owen Daniels and Kevin Walter, were unable to pull in balls they got their hands on.
  5. The Texans shouldn’t feel obligated to use James Casey as the first-string fullback just because he was the primary plan once Vonta Leach left. They later signed free-agent Lawrence Vickers. He shouldn’t be waiting until the second half for a chance to impact the game. He quickly had a 22-yard catch and run.
  6. Second-string inside linebacker Xavier Adibi had a nice night, though he was unblocked on one of his two sacks. Another No. 2, outside linebacker Jesse Nading, was also productive with a sack and a forced fumble. Second-round pick Brooks Reed looked good, showing good burst at the snap. He had one good rush followed by a nice recognition in which he stopped chasing to jump and knock down a pass.
  7. The late work of undrafted rookie outside linebacker Bryan Braman out of West Texas A&M is the sort that makes a guy impossible to hide for a practice squad spot. No matter the caliber of the people attempting to block him, he showed a knack for getting to the quarterback, even if he allowed rookie quarterback Greg McElroy to shrug out of a sure sack on the final possession of the game.
  8. Will Demps fielded kickoffs and punts early on without much affect. Trindon Holliday was out hurt and the team wisely didn’t choose to look at Jones and Danieal Manning, veteran starters who didn’t need to be exposed to injury risk on special teams.

SPONSORED HEADLINES