Three things to watch for in Houston’s preseason opener against the visiting New York Jets on Monday night. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPN.
The new 3-4 front will be on display in a game situation for the first time. Coach Gary Kubiak said starters will only go 10 to 12 plays, but it should be enough to give us a sense of how things are different in the Wade Phillips-coordinated defense. Mario Williams will stand up as a “linebacker” for the first time, but he’s still going to be at or near the line of scrimmage. Look for him to regularly find his way to the weak side and to go heavy with the bull rush from the start against D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Wayne Hunter.
Matt Leinart was labeled a “special” in the last week by Kubiak. Matt Schaub’s backup will play a lot against the Jets. Leinart looks great in practice, with solid command and a nice ball. But critics who’ve watched him regularly from close range believe he’s just a beat off in game situations. The Jets intend to play starters for the entire first quarter, so while Leinart will work with mostly second-stringers, he will get some good work against some top defensive personnel.
Meet Chris Ogbonnaya. With Arian Foster, Steve Slaton and Ben Tate all dealing with hamstring injuries, expect Derrick Ward to get the carries with the first team and Ogbonnaya to be the running back who gets the most work on the night. The team really likes him, but the four guys in front of him all have loftier pedigrees, so it will be very difficult for him to make the team.