If you ask old school scouts what is required to field a championship contender, they will quickly tell you that it takes eight to twelve blue-chip players to compete for a title. This premise has been the standard for general managers around the league and I rely on it to help me identify the players to watch on game day.
With that in mind, let's identify the players to watch on the Cowboys' next opponent. Here's a quick report on the current blue-chip players for the Houston Texans.
Dameon Pierce, RB: The rookie rushing leader is a hard-nosed runner with a combination of size, strength, and power that challenges the physicality and toughness of each defender on the field. Pierce might be a "three yards and a cloud of dust" runner in the Texans' offense, but his gritty running style sets the tone for the unit.
Brandin Cooks, WR: The veteran pass catcher is a crafty playmaker with precise routes and strong hands. As an underrated WR1 with a consistent game as a "chain mover", Cooks is the focal point of the Texans' aerial attack.
Jerry Hughes, DE: Despite nearing the twilight of his career, Hughes remains a legitimate pass-rushing threat off of the edge. The 34-year-old pass rusher has totaled eight sacks in 12 games while exhibiting the first-step quickness and burst that has helped him tally 65.5 career sacks in 13 seasons (196 games).
Christian Kirksey, LB: As a tackling machine in the middle of the Texans' defense, Kirksey routinely corrals ball carriers and pass catchers as a sideline-to-sideline pursuer with outstanding instincts, awareness, and diagnostic skills. The Texans' third-leading tackler is a force to be reckoned with between the hashes as a "see ball, get ball" defender.
Jalen Pitre, S: The rookie standout is a stat stuffer with a knack for delivering big hits and producing turnovers. Pitre leads the team with three interceptions while also ranking as one of the Texans' leading tacklers (92) and most disruptive playmakers.
Derek Stingley, CB: As a standout cover corner with superior size, speed, and athleticism, Stingley is the prototype at the position. The rookie has flashed "shutdown" cover skills but needs more reps and experience to snuff out WR1s on the perimeter consistently.