Texans-Rams: Five matchups to watch

Texans-Rams: Five matchups to watch
October 12, 2013, 10:00 am
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The Texans (2-3) host the Rams (2-3) at Reliant Stadium on Sunday afternoon in Houston.

Here are five important matchups within the game to watch:

Matt Schaub vs. Matt Schaub
Well, this is a first. But Schaub is going to need to get out of his own head to find success this week. Gary Kubiak said it was a “real tough” decision to start Schaub over T.J. Yates this week. Schaub has thrown nine interceptions in five games and four of them have been returned for touchdowns.

“Not one bit,” Schaub said when asked if his confidence has been shaken. “I’m supremely confident in my abilities and what I can do out on the football field. We just have to back to being conscious of the details and being technique-sound and what got us here as players individually and a team. That’s what we’re doing. We’re focusing on the details and we’ll be fine.”

But for a 10-year veteran who all of a sudden can’t seem to stop thrown touchdowns to the other team, it has to be in his mind. Yates said he and the other folks in the QB room this week did their best to make everything seem as normal as possible. For Schaub, he’ll need to make sure he doesn’t beat himself on Sunday.

Brice McCain vs. Tavon Austin
Austin was the first receiver taken in the most recent draft. DeAndre Hopkins was the second. And so far, it looks like those two should have been flipped.

Austin’s rookie season has been pretty bumpy so far. He has 23 receptions for 123 yards and two touchdowns but he's second in the league with five dropped passes.

“I wouldn’t say he’s struggling,” Rams quarterback Sam Bradford said in a conference call with Houston reporters. “I think last week, it was more on our game plan, the things that we thought we could use to take advantage of Jacksonville and that was playing in more two and three tight end sets where Tavon’s role is fairly limited. I think that was more by design last week than anything.”

Austin lines up as the Rams’ slot receiver, which is McCain’s territory.

Andre Johnson vs. Janoris Jenkins
It’s a shame that Cortland Finnegan likely won’t play on Sunday. The Rams’ cornerback didn’t practice this week and is doubtful. He has a history with Johnson. The two got into an on-field fight in 2010. Johnson said he didn’t care if Finnegan plays but it would have been the clear-cut matchup to watch if Finnegan was healthy.

But the more important football matchup will be Johnson against Jenkins. Johnson is listed as questionable but he said he’s playing on Friday. Without Owen Daniels, the Texans’ leading receiver, Johnson, will need to play a big role.

Duane Brown vs. Robert Quinn
After missing two weeks with a toe injury, Brown was back last week against the 49ers and had a good game. He’ll have a tough task on Sunday, going against Quinn one-on-one.

Quinn, 23, has five sacks through five games this season after having 10.5 in 2012. Since the beginning of last year, he’s tied for 10th in the NFL in sacks. He’s the only Ram with more than 1.5 this season.

Danieal Manning vs. Jared Cook
Cook had a monster opener with the Rams, his new team, this season. He had seven catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns against the Cardinals in the opener. Since then, he has 13 catches for 125 yards and zero touchdowns. But that first game showed the kind of potential he has and Manning will be the guy who is charged with covering him most often.

When rookie D.J. Swearinger is out there, he'll have to cover him too. Swearinger has had some trouble with tight ends this season and Cook is a good one. 

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