Most noticeably none of the defensive end candidates emerged as starter quality.
When considering individual performances, one thing that stood out was that Christian Covington, Devon Still, and Brandon Dunn were almost equally unimpressive. The Texans are counting on one of those three to emerge as a starter opposite J. J. Watt and another to spell Watt as he returns to form. All three of these players held their ground, but they were generally slow to get off blocks and totally lacking in penetration and pass rush. Covington did show some mobility in forcing the fumble that John Simon returned for a touchdown, but except for that play there was little to choose between the three.
John Simon had some good moments topped off by his fumble recovery and TD run. Eric Lee, Tony Washington, Jr. and Gerald Rivers applied quarterback pressure from the outside linebacker position and Rashad Shakeel flashed at inside linebacker. D. J. Reader was solid in the middle and both Ufomba Kamalu and Joel Heath made plays from defensive end. K. J. Dillon made an excellent play to break-up a pass.
Overall the non-starters were effective, if not spectacular, in pitching a shutout against lesser competition. The projected starters must step-up their game especially their pass rush and tackling. Most importantly the defense needs a healthy Jadeveon Clowney and a fully recovered J. J. Watt to become the dominant defense the Texans need to carry the young offense into the playoffs.