The Houston Texans continue to fight the injury bug but this upcoming game might not be as bad as the week before. Here are some key situations to watch.
Quintin Demps (calf)- The starting safety appears to be close to missing his second straight game after an injury against the Minnesota Vikings.
Brian Peters (quad) - The Texans top special teams player is still out with a quad injury which he injured against the Minnesota Vikings.
Will Fuller V (hamstring) - Fuller expects to be ready for Monday night but was nowhere near ready to play on Sunday Night. He suited up but it was clear he was not ready for game action.
DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring) - Hopkins was added to the injury report this week and this will be a situation to monitor with a rash of hamstring issues going around.
Derek Newton (knee/ankle) - Newton missed the last game and was replaced by Chris Clark at right tackle. Newton’s ankle was heavily taped and he looked like he was not close to seeing the field last game.
John Simon (shoulder) - Simon was dealing with a shoulder issue all game against the Colts and gutted it out to finish the game. Now the Texans will ease him back to get ready for the Broncos.
Jadeveon Clowney (wrist) - Much like Simon, Clowney’s injury is now about rest and getting him back to get ready for game time.
Kareem Jackson (hamstring) - In a plus situation for the defense, Jackson participated in full practice with no limitations.
Jeff Allen (concussion) - Allen is still in concussion protocol but Bill O’Brien expects him to be ready for game time.
Brock Osweiler (foot) - Osweiler suffered the foot issue against the Colts but was a full participant in practice despite the injury.
Texans Offense Line Playing Better than Most Realize
The offensive line has been getting the brunt of criticism for the offenses struggles but Lamar Miller had his best game of the season averaging 6.2 yards a carry for 149 on the ground
I thought those guys played well. They battled, they’re tough. It wasn’t always perfect but I thought that those guys played as a unit. Oday Aboushi stepped up and played for us. Chris Clark, (Greg) Mancz, (Xavier) Su’a-Filo, Duane (Brown), (Kendall) Lamm, when he was in there. I thought those guys played hard and played well together,” explained Bill O’Brien of the offensive line on Sunday.
O'Brien continued, “I thought having Duane (Brown) back has really helped us from a leadership standpoint and from an, obviously, blocking standpoint. I think him and Xavier (Su’a-Filo) playing next to each other has been a good thing.”
It has been a decent start for the Texans offensive line and offensive coordinator George Godsey liked what he saw from he group
“We talked to them all week about the challenge and performing and protecting the quarterback and then creating holes for Lamar (Miller), getting to the line of scrimmage, and they did that. They played an excellent game and played, really, to the end, they helped us with the running game. There’s some good play actions that we had off of it. That’s kind of what we’re starting. That’s really what we build the offense off of."
The Texans offensive line has been better than most realize and it has been clear that, earlier in the season, Miller was missing reads and creases that the line has created for him.
The Texans rushing attack averages 2.19 yards a rush before contact which ranks them 3rd in the NFL, equating to room to operate for the running backs. The Texans rank 10th (111.2 ypg) in rushing yards per game and 15th (4.12 ypc) in yards per carry in the NFL.
In the pass rushing department, the Texans have allowed the third most quarterback hits in the NFL with 43, but 15 of those hits came against the Minnesota Vikings. In all of the other games, the Texans are averaging 5.6 hits on Brock Osweiler. One game has skewed the stats on the pass protection for Osweiler.
The Texans offensive line has given up 12 sacks on the season, which is 6th least in the NFL.
The Texans offensive line, despite the amount of change and starting with three different starting offensive lines to this point, has achieved more than most realize for the Texans.
Broncos On The Texans Defense
Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak was complimentary of the Texans defense and made it clear that the Texans have the best defensive unit they have faced to this point.
“(Jadeveon) Clowney, Whitney Mercilus are great players. They got them coming from everywhere right now, they do a good job with their linebackers getting them involved with the pass rush," explained Kubiak. “Nobody is creating more negative plays than Houston. This will be the best defensive football team we have played thus far this season, in my opinion. They have been making a lot of people do a lot of negative stuff.”
Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian has been well-versed on what to watch for on Monday Night.
“The two edge guys with Clowney and Mercilus, Clowney moves around ton too. Those guys kinda start things for them, really tough to deal with,” explained Simiean. “Watching tape and there is not a lot to times where you see a quarterback back there for very long, they are either hittiing them or affecting them or the quarterback has to get it out quick.”
It is always interesting to hear other teams and how they feel about the Texans and it is clear that Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney are on the Broncos minds heading into Monday Night. Combined, the Texans duo has 26 quarterback hurries with Mercilus tallying 10 quarterback hits and 4.5 sacks and Clowney’s 8 quarterback hits and 2 sacks.
Clowney remiains tied for the league lead with 8 tackles for loss which is another sign of an active defensive front minus J.J. Watt.
Brock Osweiler Learned about Homecomings from Peyton Manning
The story continues to be how Brock Osweiler handles the situation, returning to the organization that drafted him and the one that continues to speak his name since the off-season. Osweiler knows that there will be some emotion involved but is using the experience of watching Peyton Manning returning to Indianapolis as a starting point.
“You know, flashing back in my head and thinking back to the two times Peyton had to go back to Indianapolis and play back there, he didn’t change anything about that week. I remember the first time we went back there and it was a Sunday night game, I believe, or a Sunday afternoon game, and I remember being in our Saturday night quarterback meeting, and when I got to that meeting I was kind of anxious to see how he was going to be, what kind of energy he would have. I’ll never forget it. He stepped into the meeting and the way he conducted himself, he was the same Peyton Manning that he was the week before, the week before that and the week before that. I think that was a huge lesson for myself and that was one of the many lessons I was so fortunate to be able to learn from him. He treated that football game just like any other football game. I’m sure there was emotion involved with that but he certainly did a phenomenal job of removing that and focusing on his job.”