Kaz’s Korner

For The Record

I usually don’t mess with National Football League exhibition games because most of the players you see on the field after the first half won’t be playing during the regular season.

But with last weekend’s rainy weather, there wasn’t much else going on, so I tuned in, mostly out of curiosity to watch my three favorite NFL teams—the Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans– compete for the first time since January.

And in all three contests, the player fighting to become the backup quarterback had an outstanding game—Tom Savage for the Texans against the San Francisco 49ers, rookie Dak Prescott for the Cowboys against the LA Rams and Trevone Boykin for the Seahawks against the Kansas City Chiefs. All three games were on the road.

Actually my main interest in watching those three exhibition games was to see Houston’s new quarterback Brock Osweiler and running back Lamar Miller, Prescott’s performance at the next level of competition for the Cowboys and hopefully watching our hometown all-Pro free safety Earl Thomas play defense for the Seahawks.

The time spent was worthwhile, although Osweiler must have been given the game plan for a kindergarten team because it was mundane as plain vanilla. The Texans did score a touchdown while Osweiler was in there, but it was a defensive touchdown on a fumble recovery.

In reality he completed four of seven passes for 27 yards and a quarterback rating of 65.8 before giving way to Savage in the second period with Houston trailing 10-7 after the Texans’ first-team defense gave up 183 first-period yards.

Savage, a third-year player who was on Injured-Reserve for the entire 2015 season, rallied the Texans to 17 unanswered points and a 24-13 victory over the 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif. He completed 14-of 24 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns for a nifty rating of 107.6.

The Texans defense had a series of missed tackles and incorrect pursuit angles and gave up 302 first-half yards. They are hoping to fix some of these errors by Saturday when they host the New Orleans Saints in NRG Stadium in Houston.

But in their defense, several key players sat out Sunday’s game including middle linebacker Brian Cushing, backup cornerback A.J Bouye, Pro Bowl defensive end J.J. Watt (back surgery), offensive tackle Duane Brown (quadriceps surgery), safety Lonnie Ballentine (knee surgery), outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (sore knee), rookie center Nick Martin (back), offensive tackle Derek Newton and inside linebacker Reschard Cliett (hamstrings).

The Cowboys also were missing some key offensive players by opening the preseason without starting quarterback Tony Romo, tight end Jason Witten, rookie Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith on the sidelines.

Despite the missing talent, Prescott led the Cowboys on three scoring drives which gave them a 24-7 first-half lead. He hit 10 out of 12 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns.

Apparently, the Rams’ reserves outplayed the Cowboys’ second and third units to the pleasure of the fired-up 89,140 fans in the aging Los Angeles Coliseum and pulled out a 28-24 come-from-behind victory.

Boykin, the former TCU star quarterback, almost waited too late to become the hero of Seattle’s final fourth-quarter drive, hitting Tanner McEvoy on a 37-yard touchdown strike on the final play of the game, leaving the Seahawks a point shy at 16-15.

But Troymaine Pope took the handoff from Boykin and scampered across the double-stripe for the two-point conversion giving the Seahawks an exciting 17-16 victory.

Head Coach Pete Carroll jokingly called the game “a routine preseason victory” but was impressed the way Boykin led his team on a four-play, 88-yard drive in the final 1:07 of the game to steal a victory from the Chiefs in front of a full Arrowhead Stadium.

Seahawks veterans who have played in two Super Bowls and earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors–including Earl Thomas–still got excited about the way the backups finished the game.

“It’s really nice to have a chance to win a game at the end like that and then do it,” an exuberant Carroll said after the game. “There will be games all season long that will threaten to come right down to the wire, and the more experience you can have in those games, the better. So I was really thrilled to see our guys come through and get that done.”

Former Beaumont West Brook and Texas A&M star Christine Michael was the second-round pick by the Seahawks in 2013 and struggled the first two years for playing time and was traded in his third season. He was cut by two more teams before returning to the Seahawks last season because injuries left Seattle thin at running back.

He re-signed as a free agent this year and looked consistent in training camp and backed that up Saturday by rushing for 44 yards on seven carries.

“He’s an NFL football player and has made it clear to us that he’s serious about the work and serious about the consistency,” Carroll said. “He has taken pride in the way he has brought it day-in and day-out all through the off-season and into camp. He’s an explosive and dynamic athlete.”

KWICKIES…I must admit to watching much more of the Rio Olympics than I had intended to, especially the swimming and gymnastics. It was interesting that Great Britain’s Justin Rose was the first golfer to win a gold medal in 112 years. Sunday’s final round was as exciting as any I’ve seen in quite a while as Rose won with a 40-yard pitch to within three feet for a birdie, giving him a two-shot victory over Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and a first gold medal in golf since the 1904 games in St. Louis.

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt became the first person to win three consecutive 100-meter titles in Olympics history when he raced to victory in 9.81 seconds on a muggy Sunday. The win pushed Bolt’s total to seven Olympic gold medals with a chance for two more later this week.

Ryan Moore won the PGA Tour John Deere Classic Sunday, closing with a four-under par 67 to beat Ben Martin by two strokes. Moore finished 22-under par for his fifth tour victory. He won a check for $864,000.

Area high school football teams will be playing their final scrimmages this week before getting after it “for real” the following week. The defending state champion West Orange-Stark Mustangs, after beating Port Neches-Groves 19-7 at The Reservation last week, will host the Vidor Pirates tomorrow (Thursday) at Dan Hooks Stadium in West Orange. Bridge City fared well in their tri-scrimmage against Beaumont Kelly and Buna last week and will visit Kirbyville Thursday. The Little Cypress-Mauriceville Battlin’ Bears scrimmaged Coldspring and will travel to meet Newton on Thursday. Orangefield held their own last week against Shepherd and will take on Splendora tomorrow, while the Deweyville Pirates will scrimmage Colmesneil this week.

Johnny Manziel told ESPN Monday that his long-range plans are to clean up his life and get ready for the 2017 NFL season. I got news for you, Johnny Football—there won’t be an NFL organization that will touch you with a 10-foot pole!!!

JUST BETWEEN US…It looked for one day at least that the Houston Astros had broken out of their hitting slump when they killed the Twins in a doubleheader, scoring 25 runs and smacking out 35 hits. But they fell right back into their rut and still are wedged in third place, 7½ games behind the Texas Rangers, who also are not playing well. But time’s a-wasting and they need to pull it together quickly. I don’t believe the answer to their scoring and hitting woes is bringing up youngsters from the minor leagues. Veteran pitchers are making them look like monkeys at the plate.