ARLINGTON — It counted.
NFL history immediately said it did not. By the time that Week 1 of the 2019 campaign rolls around, the Texans’ third preseason contest will already be a fading, nearly forgotten part of your football life.
But Lamar Miller was carted off Saturday night inside Jerry World. Deshaun Watson was hit, hammered and sacked. And on an evening when Bill O’Brien’s team looked completely unprepared for the real thing, the Texans lost their starting running back and you were again reminded why it’s still so darn hard to buy into Houston’s NFL team.
The Texans can’t even get the fake games right.
Ezekiel Elliott is on vacation, Dak Prescott doesn’t have a contract extension, Amari Cooper has a foot injury, Jerry Jones wants his superstars to be Patriots cheap, and the Dallas Cowboys still led 27-0 at halftime in the last preseason contest that sort of matters.
For your Texans, all that mattered was Miller being carted off and Watson — constantly under pressure, pinballing around the pocket — getting battered again.
How long will Miller — who tore his anterior cruciate ligament, according to initial reports — be out? How severe is his needless, pointless injury?
Those were the immediate questions the moment that his teammates walked over for consoling reach outs and Miller was wheeled into the tunnel.
A dark-blue saturated crowd applauded out of respect. A little-known name ran on to fill in. The trusted lead back with 716 carries, 2,934 rushing yards and 18 total touchdowns during three seasons with the Texans entered the unknown.
So, yes, a meaningless exhibition counted for the 2019 Texans. Especially if Miller can’t return to the field in time for Week 1 against Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Cameron Jordan, Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints inside the Superdome on “Monday Night Football.”
If Miller’s injury is as bad as it initially appeared? Then Saturday’s night embarrassment will become even more painful, week by week.
As the Cowboys’ lead swelled to 34-0 entering the final period, the Texans did receive one potential infusion of much-needed positive news. ESPN reported that injury-plagued Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck is set to retire from the NFL. If that shocker is true, the Texans will immediately become AFC South favorites, and the future of the division will immediately change.
I spent part of my Friday morning writing about the NFL’s pointless preseason. Two games. That’s it. Then move on to the real, important stuff.
The Texans weren’t ready for the third fake one, which might explain why Julie’n Davenport was starting at left tackle and the team’s offensive line couldn’t protect its young franchise quarterback for the umpteenth time since 2017.
I thought veteran Matt Kalil was the starting left tackle. Hmm. Maybe he’s injured? The media should ask O’Brien for another update next week.
Lineman Zach Fulton was also carted off, which shined another shaky light on a line that gave up an NFL-high 62 sacks last season.
O’Brien’s offense has been run-first since 2014. DeAndre Hopkins and Watson rightfully receive all the national attention. But the Texans have trademarked first-and-10 and 2-and-8 handoffs to Miller, who’s 28, entering his eighth season and in a pivotal contract year.
Former third-round pick D’Onta Foreman was suddenly cut during training camp. General manager O’Brien traded for Duke Johnson, who has clear pass-catching potential but only started 10 games during four seasons with Cleveland.
Where’s Ben Tate when you need him?