Three things to watch
The backup quarterback battle will continue this week. Though our ears all perked up at Case Keenum's first-team reps in practice on Thursday, I've heard some things this week that lead me to believe not to read too much into that. Supporting that view is the fact Texans' coach Bill O'Brien said Keenum won't get any first-team reps tonight against the Falcons. O'Brien hasn't wavered from Fitzpatrick as the starter. Keenum and rookie Tom Savage are competing to be the team's backup. There was barely any time to evaluate offensive players last weekend against the Arizona Cardinals. The Texans only ran 41 offensive plays. Keenum threw five passes, completing three, and Savage threw three, completing two. The Texans will need to stay on the field longer for coaches to get a better idea of some of these battles.
Xavier Su'a-Filo took first-team reps at guard week during camp. He's still listed as Ben Jones' backup at left guard on the depth chart, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him in with the first team at right guard this year. It's an interesting situation in which the Texans find themselves. The man slated to be their starting right guard heading into the season, Brandon Brooks, is still on the non-football injury list with a back injury. Jones has plenty of playing experience and Su'a-Filo, as the first pick of the second round, was thought to be competing with Jones to be the starting left guard. He had a lot of catching up to do after missing the spring because of an NFL rule related to his college's schedule, but has been playing some tackle and center since returning. He's settling in at right guard now, though. "Xavier is trying to take advantage of all of the opportunities that he gets and he's learning on the run," O'Brien said. "The thing I really like about him is he's a really good guy, he’s a hard worker, he’s a smart player for a rookie and I believe if he continues on that road of working hard, being smart, working hard in the weight room and taking care of his body, that he’ll continue to improve and be a good player."
The Texans' defensive backfield will face an offense that will serve as a good barometer on their own progress this week. They'll be looking for improvement over last week when the Cardinals' quarterbacks completed their first 10 passes. They completed 79.4 percent of their passes and had a combined passer rating of 138.8. In three consecutive weeks the Texans' secondary will face stiff challenges. Last week they saw Larry Fitzgerald. This week they have Roddy White and Julio Jones, though Falcons coach Mike Smith wouldn't confirm Jones will play tonight. Then, of course, next week they'll face Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos.