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NFL Preseason Preview - Minnesota (1-2) at Houston (2-1)
By Scott Garbarini, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - The Houston Texans are confident that their core group of players are good enough to make a serious run at a second straight playoff appearance. The defending AFC South champions will now get to see how strong their depth is when they wrap up their 2012 preseason slate against the Minnesota Vikings at Reliant Stadium.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak has stated that his team's starting units won't be taking the field for Thursday's tussle, with the primary goal at the moment to get rested and healthy for the Sept. 9 regular-season opener against Miami. The lengthy inactive list will include Houston's top two quarterbacks, Matt Schaub and T.J. Yates, with offseason addition John Beck set to run the offense for the entire first half and undrafted rookie Case Keenum getting the call for the final two quarters.
The two reserves are battling one another to stick as the No. 3 quarterback, assuming the Texans opt to keep that many on the 53-man roster.
Schaub probably doesn't need the additional game reps anyway, as the steady veteran has put together an excellent preseason. Through Houston's first three outings, he's completed a crisp 76.3 percent (29-of-38) of his passes for 374 yards and three touchdowns with one interception, good for a 113.3 quarterback rating.
He was on clearly on target in Saturday's 34-27 loss at New Orleans, connecting on 15-of-18 attempts for 194 yards along with a scoring strike to rookie receiver Keshawn Martin in only one half of work.
Tight end Garrett Graham also had a big night for Houston, recording 97 receiving yards on four catches to lead all players.
The Vikings will also be holding out their No. 1 signal-caller for Thursday's contest, with second-year pro Christian Ponder getting a chance to watch the game from the sidelines, and head coach Leslie Frazier indicated that nearly all of his regulars would not play as well.
Frazier had given thought to allowing star running back Adrian Peterson to participate in the finale to get some live carries before Minnesota's Week 1 test against Jacksonville, but opted against it. Peterson has not played at all this preseason while recovering from ACL and MCL tears in his left knee sustained in a late-season game back in December, but is on track to be ready for the Sept. 9 lid-lifter.
Joe Webb will get the starting nod in Ponder's place, to be followed by onetime Texan Sage Rosenfels and former UFL player McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
In Ponder's final prep for the season opener, the 2011 first-round selection went 9-of-16 for 115 yards in about 2 1/2 quarters of action during Minnesota's 12-10 loss at San Diego this past Friday. He was also sacked five times and threw an interception.
The Vikings took advantage of a depleted Houston roster to register a 28-0 victory in last year's final preseason game for both squads. Minnesota also claimed the only other previous exhibition clash between the clubs, a 17-10 decision at Reliant Stadium in 2009.
Minnesota and Houston will also square off during this year's regular season, which will take place in Minneapolis on Dec. 23.
08/29 08:45:37 ET