Texans-Titans: Five matchups to watch

Texans-Titans: Five matchups to watch
September 15, 2013, 7:00 am
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The Texans will have their home opener against the Titans at 12 p.m. on Sunday.

If the Texans win, they'll improve to 2-0 for the fourth straight season and it would give them three consecutive wins against the Titans for the first time ever.

But to beat Tennessee (1-0) on Sunday, these five matchups will be key

Chris Johnson vs. Cushing, linebackers
When NFL fans mention the best running backs in the NFL, Chris Johnson's name doesn't come up anymore. Johnson rushed for over 2,000 yards and 14 touchdowns in his second season. But he hasn't had that season again, although he's had 1,000 yards in each of the last three years.

In his career, Johnson has averaged 89.3 yards per game against the Texans.

"He’s dangerous, just as much as he was a 2,000-yard rusher, leading the league and he got the big deal," texans defensive end Antonio Smith said. "I think if we don’t stop him, we’ll be in some trouble.”

Johnson ran for 70 yards on 25 carries in Week 1 for an average of 2.8 yards per carry. But that number is deceiving. With Johnson's speed, a team can contain him for most of a game before he breaks a long run for a touchdown.

Against the Texans, Brian Cushing and the linebackers will need to stop Johnson before he reaches the secondary but it will be a team effort to try to bottle him.

"He’s extremely fast and can make a play at any moment," Cushing said. "I’m not exactly sure if he’s any better, but it’s one game. I don’t think anybody can really judge. He’s got all the talent in the world; you just have to contain him.”

Chance Warmack vs. J.J. Watt
Warmack, from Alabama, was the 10th overall pick in the draft and was one of the more NFL-ready players coming out of college.

He had a nice first game and received a grade positive grade of 2.0 from ProFootballFocus. But now the rookie right guard has a much more difficult challenge this week. He gets to go against the reigning defensive player of the year. Sure, Warmack will have help but it's going to be a very good matchup.

“Obviously, they have a first-round pick and then they went out and picked up (G Andy) Levitre," Watt said. "They made some good moves to help bolster their offensive line. There are only a couple preseason games and one regular season game. They’ve got some good players and it’s always a good challenge. Every week’s a good challenge.”

Andre Johnson vs. Alterraun Verner, Jason McCourty
The Texans will line Johnson up on both sides of the football and it's likely he'll get a crack at both of the Titans' corners.

The Titans gave up only 194 yards to the Steelers in Week 1 and 163 of them came through the air. Johnson had 12 catches for 146 yards in the Texans opener.

"I think I’ve seen it all with him now, but he continues to just go out and make plays," quarterback Matt Schaub said. "The type of camp he’s had, the type of offseason, in my seven years, probably the best I’ve seen out of him. Just watching him go to work, I told him before the game, ‘We’re going to be the aggressors. We’re going to go make some plays.’ We’re all on the same page all the time with one another. He never ceases to amaze me, but, at the same time, what he does out there, he makes it look so routine every day.”

In Johnson's career, he's averaged 69.8 yards per game against the Titans but has nine touchdowns, the most he has against any team.

Arian Foster vs. Moise Fokou
Much of the talk this week has been about Foster and Tate's splitting carries. Although Foster had double the amount of carries Tate had in the opener, head coach Gary Kubiak said he'd like to get the carries more even. It's hard to see that happening unless Foster is very ineffective.

“I mean, yeah. That has to be OK with me," Foster said about Kubiak's plan with carries. "Like I said, we’re chess pieces. Coach makes the final ruling, but as a competitor, I’ve been in this League, I felt that I’ve played well throughout my tenure here. You want to be out there. You feel like you’ve earned that right to be out there. That’s just where the frustration comes from.”

Fokou is the new middle linebacker in the Titans' 4-3. He spent last season with the Colts, so the Texans should know him well. He had a nice first game.

Jurrell Casey vs. Wade Smith
Casey made some noise in the Titans' Week 1 win against the Steelers, recording two sacks, and hasn't been quiet since.

"We're going to go out there and make sure we put our foot up their (butt)," Casey told ESPN. "Sorry about the cuss word."

Smith will be charged with stopping the defensive tackle. He'll of course have some help but one of the most veteran linemen in the league might have something to prove against a young guy who likes to talk.

Casey did line up on both sides in the opener, so the Texans will probably see him on both sides too. If he lines up on the left, right guard Brandon Brooks and right tackle Derek Newton will have to deal with him.

Texans - Team News
Andre Johnson - WR
Ryan Fitzpatrick admitted he "didn't get it to Andre [Johnson] nearly enough early"... Johnson finished with 5-77-0 on nine targets, but had just one catch for four yards through the first three quarters. After the game, coach Bill O'Brien said that Johnson...
Oct 23 8:03AM Read More
Brian Cushing - LB
Texans ILB Brian Cushing will miss at least one week with a knee injury. It's a blow to an already vulnerable Houston run defense, and a nice upgrade to Bishop Sankey's Week 8 matchup. Justin Tuggle and Mike Mohamed figure to start at inside...
Oct 22 8:32PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) was limited in Wednesday's practice. The Texans are limiting Johnson's reps coming off Monday night's loss. He'll remain a WR2 for Week 8 against the Titans.
Oct 22 5:22PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster was limited in Wednesday's practice. The Texans listed Foster as "not injury related," but he missed practice time last week with a groin issue. Foster has a matchup with the Titans' No. 22 ranked run...
Oct 22 5:15PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
According to HoustonTexans.com, there's a "decent chance" Jadeveon Clowney (knee)... "He feels good," coach Bill O'Brien said Monday. "Well see how it goes this week in practice. We'll be able to make a determination pretty soon about whether...
Oct 21 3:58PM Read More
Garrett Graham - TE
Garrett Graham caught two passes for 24 yards in the Texans' Week 7 loss to the Steelers. Graham was targeted three times, but dropped the other. It can be considered one of Graham's better statistical games of the season, which obviously means he's nowhere near...
Oct 20 11:31PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson caught five passes for 77 yards in the Texans' Week 7 loss to the Steelers on... Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins each saw a team-high nine targets. There was nothing special about Johnson's night. His biggest play was a 24-yard grab on a deep in route in...
Oct 20 11:25PM Read More
DeAndre Hopkins - WR
DeAndre Hopkins caught six passes for 108 yards in the Texans' Week 7 loss to the Steelers on... Hopkins and Andre Johnson each saw a team-high nine targets. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw it to whichever receiver was working against embattled Steelers CB Cortez Allen. ...
Oct 20 11:16PM Read More
Alfred Blue - RB
Alfred Blue rushed for 14 yards on five carries and caught an 11-yard touchdown in the Texans'... Blue was the vulture on the opening-drive 11-yard score after Arian Foster managed 59 rushing yards to get the Texans near the goal line. Foster is an every-down back,...
Oct 20 11:09PM Read More
Ryan Fitzpatrick - QB
Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 21-of-32 passes for 262 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception... Fitzpatrick played well for much of the first half, leading the Texans on three consecutive scoring drives to open the game. It was a train wreck thereafter. One play...
Oct 20 10:56PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster rushed for 102 yards on 20 carries in the Texans' 30-23, Week 7 loss to the... Foster got off to a blazing start, rushing for 59 yards on the Texans' 94-yard opening touchdown drive, but was vultured by Alfred Blue for the 11-yard touchdown catch to...
Oct 20 10:47PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
Jadeveon Clowney (knee) is inactive for Monday night's Week 7 game against the Steelers. Clowney's lateral agility wasn't where the Texans wanted it to be in pre-game warmups. He's been out since undergoing knee surgery after Week 1. Whitney Mercilus is...
Oct 20 6:09PM Read More
DeAndre Hopkins - WR
DeAndre Hopkins (hand) is probable for Week 7. The Texans listed Hopkins on the injury report, but his status was never in doubt. He'll be a WR3 for Monday night against the Steelers.
Oct 18 2:54PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster (groin) is probable for Monday night's game against the Steelers. Foster was limited on Thursday, but practiced in full the last two days. He should have another heavy workload against a Steelers defense that's allowing 4.4 yards per carry...
Oct 18 2:48PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) was upgraded to full in Saturday's practice and is listed as probable for... Johnson is good to go for Monday night's matchup with the Steelers. He's Rotoworld's No. 15 receiver this week.
Oct 18 2:39PM Read More