Sans preseason, Texans OC will first call plays in season opener

Back in February, Houston Texans czar Bill O'Brien announced offensive coordinator Tim Kelly would take over play-calling duties.

The decision came as a surprise to many because play-calling was one thing O'Brien seemed to do well.

Since then, Kelly has seen the offseason scrapped, and more importantly, the preseason canceled, negating a chance for the new play-caller to get more experience managing the down-by-down plan before the games count.

With the Texans set to kick off the season against the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on opening night, Kelly's first regular-season game calling plays will be in prime time.

"Being a first time play-caller, obviously, as elementary as it may sound, you're doing everything for the first time, right?" Kelly said in a video press conference Wednesday, via Deepi Sidhu of the team's official website. "So, you know, being able to put yourself in those situations with live bullets, the first time that happens in Kansas City, is going to be the first time that I'm doing it where it actually counts."

Kelly handled play-calling last preseason, so Week 1 won't be his very first time delivering the play to Deshaun Watson, but it will be more than a year since he's done it in live-action. And this one counts.

While much of the discussion surrounding the cancellation of the preseason has been about the players, many other factors have been disrupted. Refs aren't able to get their preseason reps in. New coaches with new responsibilities like Kelly won't have the chance to dip their toes in the water before the games matter.

Kelly, who has been with the Texans since 2014 in various positions, believes his familiarity with the roster will aid him in calling plays without the benefit of the preseason to practice.

"Knowing the roster, you know, it's good to be able to know what the strengths and weaknesses are of the different players so you can take advantage of what they do well," Kelly said. "Try to capitalize on their strengths and the different matchup issues that they may present."

Most expect the start of the season to be pretty sloppy, given the lack of preseason and fewer full-go sessions during training camp for players to get acclimated. Coaches, too, could have a wonky beginning to the season, especially those like Kelly who are entering a new gig.

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