Game Snap Shot: Texans @ Chiefs

The NFL Insiders takes you inside the numbers and previews the key match-ups for the Chiefs game on Sunday against the Houston Texans.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 12:00 Noon
GAMEDATE: 9/26/04
TV: CBS, Kevin Harlan & Randy Cross

SERIES: - Second meeting. Kansas City leads 1-0 after RB Priest Holmes rushed for two touchdowns and Dante Hall returned a 73-yard punt for a touchdown in a 42-14 rout at Reliant Stadium.

2004 RANKINGS: - Texans: offense 10th (17th rush, 6th pass); defense 11th (12th rush, 11th pass). Chiefs: offense 20th (8th rush, 25th pass); defense 27th (32nd rush, 17th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: - Both camps have been spreading the "don't panic" this week, but someone is going to start the season 3-0. The big concern for the Chiefs is RB Priest Holmes, who is in a race against the clock to heal his sprained ankle. WR Eddie Kennison is also expected to be out, allowing the Texans to focus even more on TE Tony Gonzalez. But to break a franchise-long six-game losing streak, Houston needs QB David Carr to handle the hostile environment in his first start in Arrowhead Stadium. He and RB Domanick Davis have accounted for all seven of the offense's turnovers. The Texans should be able to move the ball consistently against the Chiefs' porous defense, but protecting the ball and finishing drives with touchdowns will be essential in trying to pull off an upset.

FAST FACTS: - Ten teams have started a season 0-2 and gone on to reach the playoffs. Texans: Davis has four fumbles in 62 carries this season after having just three in 288 carries last season. ... Have gone 34 consecutive games without back-to-back victories, the longest streak ever for an expansion team. ... Are 0-2 for the first time. Chiefs: Won the only previous meeting, 42-14, in Houston last season. ... QB Trent Green has started 51 consecutive games, tying Len Dawson's team record.

PREDICTED SCORE: Chiefs 24, Texans 23

Texans: With 16 catches, RB Domanick Davis has more than twice as many as wide receiver Andre Johnson (seven), who set a team record last season with 66 as a rookie. Davis' total got a jolt last week when he had team-record 11 catches. Of the four teams who were led in receptions and rushing yards by the same running back, only Kansas City with Priest Holmes won more than four games last season. San Diego (LaDainian Tomlinson), Detroit (Shawn Bryson) and the New York Giants (Tiki Barber) each finished 4-12.

QB David Carr returned to practice Thursday after missing the previous day due to a stomach virus.

NT Seth Payne spent a night in the hospital earlier this week because of a swollen right elbow that was later diagnosed as bursitis. Payne is expected to play this weekend at Kansas City.

RB Tony Hollings did some light running and is questionable for this week's game against Kansas City. Hollings missed last week's loss at Detroit with a bruised right knee suffered during a non-contact drill in practice on Sept. 16. "With a knee injury I feel like you need to be careful wit," Hollings said. "You don't want to rush back and then hurt it worse."

TE Billy Miller has not caught a pass in six straight games dating back to the preseason. Miller has 91 receptions, the most of any Texan receiver, during the past two seasons. "We all have to be team players about it and, when we get on the field, make the best of those opportunities," he said.

RB coach Chick Harris has given Domanick Davis three words to memorize: "High and tight." That's how Harris told Davis where he wanted the football, tucked under his arm with at least one hand covering it up. Davis has four fumbles in two games after committing only three turnovers all of last season.

Chiefs: - RB Priest Holmes did some light jogging on his sprained ankle at Thursday's practice, but he's starting to look on the doubtful side of questionable for Sunday's Houston game. Coach Dick Vermeil said he wouldn't rush his top offensive player back into action until he was completely ready.

WR Eddie Kennison, doubtful with a hamstring injury, did some stretch out running at Thursday's practice, but he also is looking on the doubtful side of questionable.

DE Vonnie Holliday returned to practice Thursday after missing the Carolina loss with a groin injury. Even if Holliday does play, he may not immediately regain his starting LDE spot from John Browning, who played effectively there after moving outside from his interior position.

WR Chris Horn, a member of the Chiefs practice squad, has been taking some snaps with the first team offense this week and is a strong candidate for promotion given the hamstring injury that may keep starter Eddie Kennison down for more than a week.

RB Derrick Blaylock said he has prepared himself well over three years with the Chiefs to step in should Priest Holmes not be available, which could happen this week. "I feel like I can be a starter in this league, and I'm ready to show that," said Blaylock, who played behind Mike Cloud when Holmes missed the final two games of the 2002 season with his hip injury.

RB Larry Johnson should get more than his career-high seven carries (last year in the season-finale rout of Chicago) when he plays in a rotation for the injured Priest Holmes against Denver on Sunday. Coach Dick Vermeil says he has no hard feelings over Johnson's angry remarks of Wednesday, when he lashed back at Vermeil's diaper reference to him, and promises that Johnson will finally be getting the chance he has demanded for the last year. INSIDE THE CAMPS:
- The schedule makers did not do the Houston Texans any favors. Now they might wish they won those two early games against San Diego and Detroit. The schedule is about to become increasingly difficult beginning this weekend with a road game against Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium. It begins a stretch that includes six of the next eight games against 2003 playoff teams.

After the Chiefs, the Texans play home games against Oakland and Minnesota before visiting Tennessee. After a bye week, Houston plays host to surprising Jacksonville and then goes on the road for back-to-back games against Denver and Indianapolis. The brutal stretch ends with home games against Green Bay and a second meeting with the Titans. The final four teams in that stretch had a .688 winning percentage last season.

"The NFL has a funny way of evening itself out, so I have a feeling that luck is right around the corner for us," Texans center Steve McKinney said.

The Texans are 0-2 for the first time in team history and have lost franchise record six straight games dating back to last season.

Chiefs: - The blowout that became known in Kansas City as Diapergate was powdered over Thursday in a meeting between the two participants. Until it leaks out again, that is.

Coach Dick Vermeil met early Thursday morning with young running back Larry Johnson, who on Wednesday lashed out angrily at his coach for his Tuesday comment that it was time for Johnson to "take your diaper off and go to work." I

t was Vermeil's way of telling Johnson -- who pouted openly as a rookie about being drafted in the first round by a team that already had Priest Holmes -- that his infant season in the NFL was over and his chance to play was at hand.

Johnson replied that "I don't need another grown man telling me I need to take the diapers off."

"I've busted my (butt) the whole preseason, and I know I'm ready to do my share," Johnson said. "To make a comment like that is unnecessary. That's drama. That's Young and the Restless, General Hospital (stuff)."

Vermeil addressed the matter with Johnson individually, then with his team as a group. By the end of Thursday's practice, Johnson announced that "everything's cool" -- maybe even dry -- and said he was getting on with the business of replacing Holmes in the likely event that the Pro Bowl back does not play against Houston on his sprained ankle.

Johnson likely will play in a rotation with backup Derrick Blaylock, who will likely start. But expect to see the Chiefs use both heavily. Blaylock is a smaller speed guy who can hit holes quickly and be a threat in the perimeter passing game. The larger Johnson is more of a power runner who spent the offseason and preseason improving the weaknesses in his game that kept him from taking more than 20 carries as a rookie.

"Where Larry made the most improvement is trusting his blocks and running with power -- not trying to run around the end like he might have gotten away with in college," said quarterback Trent Green. "He's reading his line better and hitting the holes better. And, he's better in pass protection, which gives me confidence." Top Stories