There has been a lot of hype coming into the season that this is finally the year the Texans hoist the Lombardi trophy. Then again, we’ve heard this the last three-four years and we’ve been disappointed. So is this finally there year? Time will tell, but it all starts tonight against the Chargers.
10:15 PM ET, September 9, 2013
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
It has taken a few years but the Texans finally have a capable WR2 to line up opposite Andre Johnson. DeAndre Hopkins suffered a concussion in the preseason but is said to be good to go for tonight’s game. Hopkins may be a bit rusty missing several key weeks of the preseason, but Hopkins has big playmaking ability which should open up the rest of the field for the offense. Andre Johnson will still likely receive lots of attention tonight with Derek Cox covering him and help from Eric Weddle or Marcus Gilchrist.
The Texans still have other several receiving options for Schaub. DeVier Posey, Keshawn Martin, and Lestar Jean are all expected to be active tonight. Posey may be on a somewhat of a limited snap count though he looked good in the few preseason snaps he took. Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham are also a big part of the passing attack. With Hokpins and Andre Johnson demanding respect from the corners and safeties, Daniels and Graham should have room to run free in the secondary and could be a big part of tonight’s game plan.
The other big story in Houston has to do with the lethal running attack of Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Foster did not take a single snap in August, and is expected to “share” the duties with Tate. We will likely see Foster most of the first half, and Tate will relieve him sporadically. If the Texans take a big lead in the second half it will be Ben Tate pounding the rock and milking the clock.
The Texans will be fully healthy in front of Schaub and the running backs. Left guard, Wade Smith, will start tonight’s affair and Ben Jones will be ready to go to relieve Smith if need be. On Schaub’s two sides, Derek Newton and Duane Brown will be going against Dwight Freeney and Jarret Johnson . If the Texans can give Schaub time in the pocket, they should be able to excel in the passing game.
Tonight’s starting defense has five new starters on the squad. Earl Mitchell replaces Shaun Cody up front and could have a huge breakout year in between J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith. As we mentioned earlier today, Jared Crick will get the start for the suspended Smith tonight, and will be a part of the Texans rotation of lineman throughout the year.
The linebacking position will likely not be in 100% game shape. Joe Mays was brought into to replace Bradie James, and he will start alongside Brian Cushing. We should expect to see a little rust from Cushing even if he may think he’s 100%. Whitney Mercilus is another pass rusher who was hurt during the preseason. Mercilus will also have to shake off some rust in his first game action since the postseason.
The Texans also have some questions in the secondary, though they shouldn’t be too exposed tonight. Fans want to see if the decline in Johnathan Joseph‘s production last year was due to injury or if he isn’t the shutdown corner he used to be. Shiloh Keo will start in place of Ed Reed, and he will surely be getting many balls thrown his way as Philip Rivers looks to exploit that matchup.
Score: Texans 31 – Chargers – 13
- The Texans combine for 5 sacks and 2 INT
- Keshawn Martin breaks free for a return TD
- Schaub’s lone TD pass goes to Garrett Graham
- Foster and Tate each score a TD, with Foster getting 21 carries and Tate getting 13
- Randy Bullock hits his only FG, this one from 42 yards out
What do you think Texans fans? Sound off in the comments below or tweet me @YoniPollak.