The Miami Dolphins head to Texas to face the Houston Texans on Saturday. Before we get to the game, Brett Kollman from The Phinsider's sister blog covering all things Texans, Battle Red Blog, stopped by to answer some questions about Houston.
Kevin Nogle (KN): How is the health for the Texans?
Brett Kollmann (BK): The Texans are probably the healthiest they have been in a long time, minus a few key contributors. Jonathan Joseph is 100% after two sports hernias. Brian Cushing is full go after his ACL last season. Darryl Sharpton seems to be finally healthy (for now). There are a couple questions marks with Arian Foster's back, Ben Tate's groin, JJ Watt's elbow, and Whitney Mercilus' hamstring, but if this was a regular season game I would expect most if not everybody to play. I won't be shocked if Kubiak held out a few guys just as a precaution, but the Dolphins will be seeing a lot more starters than the Vikings did.
KN: Last season, the Texans welcomed Ryan Tannehill to the NFL regular season, led by J.J. Watt deciding to swat what seemed like every pass attempt. This year, the Dolphins are in need of facing that team again to get a good judgement of where the offensive line, and the offense as a whole, stands. How much do you expect the starters to play?
BK: Most of the Texans defensive starters should be on the field with the exception of Ed Reed. We haven't heard if Watt or Mercilus will play, but I would not rule it out. Even if they both are not on the field though, the Dolphins will still be getting a face full of Antonio Smith, Brian Cushing, Earl Mitchell, Darryl Sharpton, Brooks Reed, Jonathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, and Danieal Manning. That alone should be a hell of a barometer for Ryan Tannehill and crew.
KN: Obviously, the big names coming to the Texans this year include Ed Reed and first round draft pick DeAndre Hopkins. But, what lesser known free agent or later round draft pick has been looking good in camp and has you excited for the season?
BK: I would say that Cierre Wood and Dennis Johnson have been the most impressive "under the radar" rookies so far this off season. Both of them are competing for the number three running back spot, but with the compromised health of Arian Foster and Ben Tate thus far in camp I expect both of them to play major roles in the game on Saturday. Wood is a bigger back with power while Johnson is a small, fast, lightning in a bottle kind of back. Their styles are certainly different from one another, but both have shown they can be effective runners in a zone scheme. It will be interesting to see which one emerges by the end of August.
KN: It seems like there is a quarterback controversy in the media for the Texans, despite there not actually being one for the Texans. I like Matt Schaub, and think he can do well for the Texans. Is he Peyton Manning or Tom Brady? No, but he's not Mark Sanchez either. What's your take on the non-existent controversy surrounding Schaub?
BK: I still don't understand what people want from Matt Schaub. He's a good (but not elite) quarterback who makes more great plays than bad plays and has mastered the Gary Kubiak offense. He is the best play action quarterback in the league by far and despite the occasional "WHO WAS THAT TO?" interception has been mostly accurate and safe with the football. He has won plenty of games in the fourth quarter, and I attribute a good chunk of his struggles last season to a right offensive line that was bad enough to challenge the early 2000's Texans o-line in terms of complete ineptitude. It's hard to find a Drew Brees-ish type of quarterback, and that's why they get paid hundreds of millions of dollars more than the guys below them in the "rankings". I will take Matt Schaub over a lot of quarterbacks in this league any day of the week, and that is enough for me.
KN: Clearly, Watt broke onto the national stage last year. Who is set to do that for the Texans this year?
BK: DeAndre Hopkins. I know it's early, but this kid can ball. He has beaten every Texans DB he's faced in camp so far, and Twitter is riddled with "Hopkins was covered, but caught the TD anyway" reports from every journalist that has visited practice. He will be directly competing with guys like Tavon Auston, Giovanni Bernard, Le'Veon Bell, E.J. Manuel, and Cordarrelle Patterson for offensive rookie of the year honors. Just based on his red zone dominance and position in the offense as the deep threat off of naked bootlegs, 60 catches for 1,000 yards and 8 touchdowns is not at all out of the question. Also, he can do this
Of course, I want to thank Kollmann for taking the time to answer our questions here, as well as jumping on the podcast with us earlier this week.