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Texans' offense generally struggles against Broncos defense

HOUSTON -- It was Ryan Mallett's turn at quarterback this week, after Brian Hoyer got the start in the Houston Texans' preseason opener.

While the Texans were asked a lot about the challenge Peyton Manning would present for their defense, it was the Broncos defense that caused the Texans the most trouble during Saturday night's 14-10 Denver win.

QB depth chart: Where both Texans quarterbacks looked strong against the San Francisco 49ers, the Texans had trouble moving the ball in the first half with both starter Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer, who entered the game after two drives. Mallett finished the game with 23 yards, completing 5 of 7 attempts, and Hoyer had 52 yards, completing 7 of 11 attempts. Hoyer was also sacked twice and was under pressure constantly.

Maybe that dude could start: Kevin Johnson didn't have an easy job, taking on Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas early in the game. He did well. Thomas only caught three of his six targets, and Johnson forced a three-and-out stop on Peyton Manning's first drive of the preseason with a hit on Thomas that dislodged what would have been a first-down catch. With two established starters already, Johnson won't be taking that role any time soon, but he showed his ability tonight.

Who got hurt?: No new injuries were immediately apparent. Safeties Terrance Parks and Lonnie Ballentine, linebacker Jeff Tarpinian, guard Xavier Su'a-Filo, tight end Anthony Denham and defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan, all of whom missed practices last week with injuries, did not dress for the game.

A surprise player who looks amazing: Last week outside linebacker Kourtnei Brown had two sacks in his preseason debut. This week, Brown picked off Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler and returned the interception 69 yards for a touchdown.

Rookie watch: Chandler Worthy struggled early in catching punts. He muffed one and then bobbled another early in the game. Worthy's return ability is critical to him making the team. Worthy got involved in the passing game late, catching two passes for 20 yards on the Texans' first drive of the fourth quarter.

When it was starters vs. starters, the Texans looked ...: The Texans offense had trouble moving the ball, and so did the Broncos offense. The Texans pass rush left a little to be desired, but it was without three likely starters -- J.J. Watt, Vince Wilfork and Jadeveon Clowney, all of whom did not play.

One reason to freak out: The Texans had a first down inside their opponent's 5-yard line and, for the second week in a row, could not score. Last week it was the second-team offense, this week it was their third-team offense. They got there by way of a nicely thrown and caught 31-yard pass from Tom Savage to EZ Nwachukwu.

The other football: Carli Lloyd, star of the U.S. women's national soccer team, attended the game. Lloyd, who helped lead the U.S. to its first World Cup title in 16 years, plays for the Houston Dash.

Little offensive excitement: The most exciting offensive moment of the game was a 57-yard touchdown pass from Broncos quarterback Osweiler to Andre Caldwell. Caldwell beat cornerback A.J. Bouye deep to catch the well-placed ball.