New England Patriots: 3 players to watch vs Houston Texans

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 11: Running back Rex Burkhead (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 11: Running back Rex Burkhead (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
FOXBORO, MA – AUGUST 10: Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots has words with officials during a preseason game with the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on August 10, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) /

Which New England Patriots players are due for a big game this Saturday?

Following joint practices earlier this week, the New England Patriots will go head-to-head with the Houston Texans for their second preseason game this Saturday.

In last week’s preseason contest versus Jacksonville, rookies Austin Carr and Jacob Hollister posted breakout performances. The two undrafted signees combined for 12 catches, 160 yards, and one touchdown. In addition, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 235 yards, two touchdowns, and a passer rating of 125.4.

With roster spots now up for grabs, players must prove their value if they are to make the team. These are three players to watch closely in the Patriots second preseason game.

TE James O’Shaughnessy

Rookie tight end Jacob Hollister had a strong showing in the Patriots’ first preseason game last Thursday, posting seven grabs for 116 yards versus the Jacksonville Jaguars. In Week 2 of the preseason, James O’Shaughnessy will be the tight end to watch.

The former Kansas City Chief joined New England in a trade during the 2017 draft and is projected to snag the team’s third tight end spot. Injuries have limited O’Shaughnessy’s participation in training camp thus far but his versatility and upside make him an intriguing prospect. On Monday, The Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels reported that O’Shaughnessy “looked decent in limited time”, urging fans not to “sleep on him for [the] No. 3 [tight end] role.”

The 2015 fifth-round pick plays a multifaceted game and is capable of contributing on all four downs. In two seasons, O’Shaughnessy’s collected 361 special teams snaps including 287 in 2016. Mike Loyko of noted that O’Shaughnessy “was one of the leading special teams tacklers in the NFL last season” finishing the year with eight total tackles.

Unlike Hollister, O’Shaughnessy won’t tally an abundance of receiving production, but he should stand out elsewhere. Watch out for number 88 on kickoff and punt coverage in addition to as a blocker with the second-team offense.

O’Shaughnessy missed New England’s first preseason game, but it’s likely his number will be called in Saturday’s contest versus the Houston Texans.