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Old 08-15-2010, 08:35 AM   #1843
Cito Pelon
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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP)—Matt Schaub(notes) was excellent, Mario Williams(notes) was rusty but disruptive.

The Houston Texans had little to complain about in their preseason opener at Arizona. Except, perhaps, the final score.

Schaub completed 5 of 6 passes for 78 yards, directing Houston to a field goal on its first possession and throwing a 44-yard touchdown pass to Andre Johnson(notes) on the second before retiring for good in a 19-16 preseason loss to the Cardinals on Saturday night.

“I thought we were sharp,” Schaub said, “on top of our stuff that we were executing.”

Rookie John Skelton(notes), whose uncle Javier Loya is a minority owner of the Texans, directed two late touchdown drives against the Houston reserves to give Arizona the victory.

Williams, battling a hip problem, sacked Leinart twice as Houston took a 16-0 lead. In Arizona’s first series, Williams pushed the Cardinals’ new starting right tackle Brandon Keith(notes) all the way into the quarterback.

“I don’t care what anybody says, there ain’t nothing wrong with his hip,” Keith said.

But Williams, in fact, has been slowed by the injury.

“I felt like I wasn’t as smooth as I wanted to be but that is pretty much because I haven’t played, haven’t hit anybody, hadn’t put any pads on,” he said. “I will work it out. I will work the kinks out. It is still day by day.”

Leinart completed 6 of 7 for 49 yards but, in addition to the sacks, misconnected with Tim Hightower(notes) on a handoff, for a fumble. He didn’t stick around for the usual starting quarterback post-game news conference.

Leinart’s backup, former Cleveland quarterback Derek Anderson(notes), threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Beanie Wells(notes) but was intercepted twice.

“Too sloppy,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said at halftime.

Asked about Leinart’s play, Whisenhunt targeted the entire first-team offense.

“I’m not pleased with how our offense performed in general,” he said. “It’s not so much the quarterback. We had guys the wrong routes, guys in the wrong spot. We had a protection breakdown, not a breakdown but we got beat. All things that we’ve got to clean up.”

Skelton, a fifth-round draft pick out of Fordham, connected with Jason Wright(notes) on a 15-yard pass play with 1:53 left for the deciding score. The 6-foot-5 Skelton completed 5 of 6 passes for 84 yards. Max Hall(notes), the undrafted rookie from BYU who is fighting Skelton for the No. 3 quarterback spot, didn’t play.

“It’s a different world coming from Fordham,” Skelton said, “and to make a step like that is very significant, actually. Being a rookie, fighting for a position on the team, every play counts. I just tried to take advantage of it.”

The Texans chose not to go for a game-tying 51-yard field goal at the finish.

“Our ones were very sharp. I thought they looked really good,” Houston coach Gary Kubiak said. “I thought defensively we played really good all night long. … There are a lot of positives to draw from and we have to draw from those and find a way to give the younger guys something better to work with so they can be successful. They really struggled.”

Houston backup Dan Orlovsky(notes) got extended playing time, completing 12 of 21 for 129 yards with no interceptions. He directed a 15-play, 86-yard drive that consumed 7:48 of the third quarter. It ended with Kris Brown’s(notes) second field goal of the game, a 26-yarder that put Houston up 16-0.

Schaub, who led the NFL in yards passing last season with 4,770, opened the game with a 10-play, 53-yard drive, culminated by Brown’s 31-yard field goal. On Houston’s second possession, Schaub connected with a wide-open Johnson, whose fake had left Arizona cornerback Justin Miller(notes) helplessly in his wake.

Arizona’s first possession went nowhere. Leinart and Hightower messed up a handoff for a fumble that loss 11 yards, then Leinart was sacked by Williams for a 12-yard loss. The next time the Cardinals had it, Leinart drove them from their own 21 to the Houston 32, but Jay Feely’s(notes) 50-yard field goal try was wide right.

Arian Foster(notes) started at running back ahead of Steve Slaton(notes) for Houston and gained 31 yards in four carries. Slaton rushed 10 times for 22 yards and fumbled the ball into the end zone at the goal line. Arizona recovered for a touchback.

Notes: Former Cardinals K Neil Rackers(notes), listed as Brown’s backup, kicked a 24-yard field goal with 37 seconds left in the first half. … Cardinals star Larry Fitzgerald(notes) took a nasty hit from safety Eugene Wilson(notes) as he caught a 16-yard pass from Leinart but stayed in the game. … Arizona second-round draft pick Daryl Washington(notes) strengthened his bid for a starting job at inside linebacker with a solid performance. … Houston rookie RB Ben Tate(notes) has an injured ankle but Kubiak didn’t know how serious it might be.
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