The Texans are heading to the post season for the second straight season but they need to get healthy if they are going to make anything happen once then get there.
The Texans came limping into Sunday's game against the Titans nursing several injuries. CB Johnathan Joseph, LB Bradie James, G Antoine Caldwell, T Derek Newton and Brooks Reed were all ruled out prior to kickoff.
Problems mounted when several other players found themselves bitten by the injury bug in the Texans 24-10 win over the Titans. Brice McCain left with a foot injury and never returned. Garrett Graham was lost for the game with a concussion. The major issue appears to be in the secondary. With Joseph already out and McCain going down, that unit in the back for Wade Phillips is a major concern.
"We got very thin defensive back wise, we got very thin personnel wise as far as things we do when Garrett went out, but boy we battled all day," Gary Kubaik said. "Roc [Carmichael] played a ton of snaps and [Brandon] Harris played a lot of snaps. That’s where we are at. We were down to seven guys the second half of the game when Brice went out so that makes it difficult. We actually had [DeVier] Posey in line and said you may have to go in there and cover somebody. You only get to suit so many."
When Duane Brown was shaken up and slowly walked off the field it really showed how quickly a season can go from thoughts of the Super Bowl to just trying to survive. Brown is arguably the best left tackle in football and the anchor on the Texans' offensive line. His loss would be just as great as losing Matt Schaub or Arian Foster.
"Duane Brown did come back and played the whole game," Kubiak said. "That’s a positive. A little scary there. He took a good shot in the knee but he did come back and played the rest of the game."
"For him to be wincing and in that much pain for the trainers to come out, you know that it’s significant," Schaub said. "To see him come back and jog onto the field it was. We have confidence in what Andrew Gardner can do, but Duane has been playing at such a high level and in my opinion he is the best left tackle in this league. To see him coming back out there it is a sigh of relief."
The secondary does need to get healthy with Tom Brady and the Patriots up next on the Texans' schedule.
"You know what's coming a week from tomorrow," Kubiak said. "The good news is we've worked out tail off to get in this position. We'll go down there and cut it lose, we got young guys that have to come in and play and step up. Today is a great indicator of what's to come from them, then we're going to be very excited."
Some of the young players Kubiak is talking about have already stepped in and stepped up. Rookie Whitney Mercilus made his first career start at linebacker Sunday in place of Brooks Reed. Mercilus recorded two sacks and had a fumble recovery.
"It’s very concerning because it just gets thin," Mercilus said. "It challenges young guys to step up when guys go down and they have to be ready. Just like me when it happened to Brooks and I got to step in. We have a lot of talent and we can definitely go all the way with what we have."
The secondary is an issue because of what Brady can do, but Kubiak feels that the injury situation is a concern all over the field.
"They pile up on you," Kubiak said. "They piled up on us in the secondary, they piled up on us at linebacker and we have gone light at the tight end position from day one when we put this roster together. We loose a player it affects us in a lot of different personals without me going on and on here, so it's key to get Garrett back also."