Texans' preseason plans take shape

The Houston Texans' first preseason with head coach Bill O'Brien will feature two trips out west.

Houston will start with a trip to Arizona, then host the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2, travel to Denver in Week 3 of the preseason and host the San Francisco 49ers in Week 4. The Broncos, Cardinals and 49ers were all 2013 regular-season opponents for the Texans.

The exact dates and times weren't released, but with their opponents set, the Texans are working on another part of their preseason schedule -- practices.

This hasn't happened in a few years here, but the Texans are trying to work out joint practices with at least one, maybe two, of their preseason opponents. I've always thought those were a good idea. They break the monotony of training camp and give teams a chance to try things out against an opponent who doesn't know them inside and out.

The Texans last held joint practices in 2010. From 2008-10, New Orleans and Houston practiced together before their preseason games. They skipped it in 2011 because of the lockout and didn't return to them.

We'll know the Texans' slate later this month when the regular-season schedule is announced. We know their opponents -- the Texans will face the AFC North, NFC East and the other last place AFC teams in addition to their divisional games. That means home games against Baltimore, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Philadelphia and Washington and road trips to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Dallas and New York to play the Giants in addition to home and road games against the AFC South's Titans, Jaguars and Colts.