VIKINGS AT HOUSTON
RELIANT STADIUM 6 p.m. • TV: Ch. 11 • Radio: 100.3-FM
ABOUT THE TEXANS (2-1)
Looking for a fun preseason underdog story? Then keep your eyes on on-the-bubble Texans receiver Trindon Holliday, who is listed at 5-5 and 170 pounds but has been tearing things up in the return game this preseason. Holliday, a former track standout at LSU, had a 90-yard kickoff return touchdown against Carolina in the preseason opener, added an 87-yard punt return score against San Francisco and busted off a 62-yard return against New Orleans. ... With starting QB Matt Schaub expected to sit, Houston turns things over to T.J. Yates, a bit of an underdog success story himself who produced three victories as a rookie last season, most notably a 31-10 defeat of Cincinnati in the opening round of the playoffs. Yates is 19-for-32 for 191 yards during the preseason. ... TE Garrett Graham is an intriguing player, who had four catches for 97 yards against the Saints this past weekend. ... Whitney Mercilus was the Texans' top draft pick in April, picked 26th overall. Houston hopes Mercilus can be a standout rush linebacker after a 2011 season at Illinois that saw him compile an NCAA-best 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles. In three preseason games, Mercilus has six tackles and 2 1/2 sacks.
ABOUT THE VIKINGS (1-2)
Joe Webb will start at QB and likely will play the entire first quarter. Webb is 17-for-34 for 152 yards with no TD passes or interceptions in three preseason games. He also has rushed for 73 yards on four attempts. Last week, against San Diego, Webb connected with Devin Aromashodu three times for 28 yards. ... S Robert Blanton will make his NFL debut after missing the first three preseason games because of a hamstring injury. Due to injuries in the secondary and the Vikings' hopes of holding out healthy starters Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford, Blanton might need to play the whole game. During the offseason, the rookie from Notre Dame impressed defensive coordinator Alan Williams with his aggressiveness, his instincts and his coverage ability, particularly against receivers in nickel packages. ... Fellow rookie Jarius Wright also will see a lot of action, both as a receiver and as a punt returner. Facing left-footed punter Donnie Jones will present a new challenge for Wright, who has been a bit inconsistent catching punts during camp. Wright also needs to show more in the passing game; he still hasn't caught a preseason pass. ... Also keep an eye on the production from the Vikings running backs with Lex Hilliard, Matt Asiata and Jordan Todman, all trying to make a case to stick around as the No. 3 option. If none of those three impress, they all could be gone by the weekend.