In a significant game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Houston Texans roster was depleted and missing some key players. The Texans had to turn to certain rookies to provide the help they needed to eventually seal a 24-21 AFC South win over the Jaguars.
Rookies Tyler Ervin, D.J. Reader and Stephen Anderson, and Joel Heath answered the call and provided key plays. Ervin set up the Texans with a 57-yard punt return for an upcoming Anderson 7-yard touchdown reception. O’Brien liked what he saw from the two rookies, especially on special teams.
“So when Ervin made that return, that was big for us to have the ball on the six yard line,” O’Brien explained. “The other thing about it is our coverage units – Don Jones, Tyler Ervin, Stephen Anderson – they all came up with some big tackles on kickoff and on punt. That helped us too.”
The Texans also used rookies D.J. Reader and Joel Heath as starters on their defense and they helped slow a successful Jaguars run game from the week before, when they rushed over 200 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Texans defense held the Jaguars to only 80 yards rushing, one of their best marks of the season. Reader finished the game with two total tackles and a sack while Heath played impressively at the point of attack at defensive end.
“I thought that both those guys played well,” said O’Brien of his two rookie defensive lineman. “I thought that there’s always things that young players can improve upon, but to get their first extensive action like that I thought that they really showed out pretty well. They held the point pretty well. Joel Heath drew a holding call because of how he rushed the passer on a play. D.J. did a nice job, had a sack and did a nice job against the run. So that was good to see.”
During NFL seasons, injuries mount and once again, the Texans were able to get their rookies to be difference makers when it counted most. Ervin, Anderson, Reader, and Heath all made valuable contributions against the Jaguars.