Cowboys vs. Texans: 3 defensive surprises to watch

Dallas Cowboys (Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports)
Dallas Cowboys (Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Dallas Cowboys will take on the Houston Texans Saturday night for the Governer’s Cup in the Battle of Texas. It’s the third preseason matchup for the Cowboys, which is normally a dress rehearsal for the regular season where you’d typically see the majority of the starters play significant snaps.

But head coach Mike McCarthy has already indicated that while fans should expect to see the starters on defense play the first half, their offensive counterparts will not. And that the team’s younger offensive players will get into the game earlier. With that in mind, here are three defensive players we’ll be watching closely in this Lone Star exhibition.

Micah Parsons, LB

At this point, watching Micah Parsons is must-see TV. That’s whether he’s playing in a game or on HBO’s Hard Knocks. The 22-year old defensive phenom has wowed in his first two preseason contests of his career, displaying rare athletic ability and speed at 6-foot-3, 245-pounds that even has his teammates in awe. We can’t wait for the next chapter in this preseason showcase to continue.

Malik Hooker, S

The Cowboys’ “tryouts” at safety to find a true defensive difference-maker are in full swing. And former first-rounder Malik Hooker is the latest candidate.

In his first practice session this past week, Hooker had a pick-six. New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is hopeful that the 25-year old safety will make his Cowboys’ debut against the Texans. If so, No. 28 will be the one for fans to watch.

Hooker has posted seven interceptions over his four-year NFL career so far. But he has struggled to stay healthy in that span missing 14 games just last season due to tearing his Achilles’ tendon.

Osa Odighizuwa, DT

With the elbow injury suffered by second-year defensive tackle Neville Gallimore recently, the Cowboys have turned to their third-round rookie, Osa Odighizuwa, and started to play him more with the first team.

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Dallas struggled against the run last season, allowing an average of 158.8 rushing yards per game to opposing offenses, the second-most in the NFL. Securing the interior of the defensive line will be key to improving the run defense and it appears Odighizwa will be pressed into action early to help the team make that turnaround. His quick development is something fans should hope for and watch closely.