I had to set some parameters to this mini-study. So, the 15 carries thing was chosen with the thought that veterans and established players aren’t getting many carries in the preseason. The 4.0 yards per carry number was chosen because that’s a standard cutoff for the good/great running backs, who should average well above that, and the average/bad, who tend to hover in the 3-yard range.
87 running backs hit the 15-carry benchmark in the 2014 preseason, and 36 of them broke 4.0 yards per carry. Of those 36, I’d classify 8 as veterans with significant regular season playing time, or, enough to kind of know what you’re dealing with.
The only game Gaines missed in 2014 was the Rams’ season finale against the Seattle Seahawks after he sustained a concussion. The Missouri product snagged two interceptions and totaled 70 tackles, 15 passes defended and one fumble recovery in his first season.
Anthony Zettel, DE (senior): The thing that makes Zettel such an interesting prospect is his versatility. He shows off his spectacular strength — by tackling dead trees out of the ground in the offseason — and uses the fact that he’s a fast and technically sound to destroy interior offensive linemen. In the NFL, he projects best as a 3-4 defensive end.
Obviously, they have a ton of stuff to prove at this stage in the offseason. New coach Jim Tomsula needs to fill holes all over the roster, including the middle and right side of the offensive line. If Colin Kaepernick is to progress and take advantage of new weapon Torrey Smith this season, they really need to get that offensive line figured out.
But hey, that’s not all that’s worth watching in this one. The Texans also have a pretty important battle on their hands at the quarterback position. Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett are battling for the starting job and neither seems to have an edge at this stage. It sounds like they’ll need more than just this one game to figure out that battle.