Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

November 15, 2018 at 12:24 am.


–OLB Duke Ejiofor was limited in practice to start the week with a shoulder injury he suffered against the Denver Broncos that knocked him out of the game. Ejiofor dealt with a torn labrum at Wake Forest that affected his draft stock, so the Texans are being extra cautious with his situation.

–S Andre Hal was limited Wednesday with a shoulder injury he suffered against the Jacksonville Jaguars. That shoulder issue kept him out of the Denver Broncos game and leaves his status up in the air for Sunday.

–ILB Zach Cunningham has been dealing with a knee issue (sprained MCL) he suffered against the Miami Dolphins that knocked him out of the game. Considered a knee sprain, there is a chance that Cunningham could return against the Redskins this weekend but it appears that the Monday night matchup against the Tennessee Titans is the target date.

–ILB Dylan Cole was placed on injured reserve after the Texans’ Week 3 loss to the New York Giants where he dislocated a wrist that required surgery. Cole has been in a cast since that point and there was a report after the injury that that Cole was done for the season. According to head coach Bill O’Brien, Cole has an outside chance that he could return this season to help the inside linebacking group.

–CBs Aaron Colvin and Johnathan Joseph have chances to get back on the field after missing games due to injuries. Colvin has been out since Week 5 due to an ankle injury, while Joseph has been out after injuring his ankle and knee against the Miami Dolphins. The Texans’ bye week hit at the right time, giving them extra time to heal up and get back on the field with the team for the stretch run.

–CB/S Kareem Jackson needs one takeaway and one tackle for loss to set career highs in those categories. Jackson leads the NFL for secondary players with four tackles for loss.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: WR Demaryius Thomas. The Texans made a move to land the veteran presence to replace Will Fuller V, who was lost with an ACL injury. Thomas worked overtime the week he was traded to the Texans to be able to line up and contribute some against the Denver Broncos. Now completely moved to Houston and with two more weeks to learn the system, Thomas is going to be needed to be a vital part of the offense moving forward. Catching three passes for 61 yards in his Texans debut, Thomas is going to have to show he can balance the field for the offense and give QB Deshaun Watson a viable target through the air.

GAME PLAN: The weather will be interesting with kickoff temperatures projected at 50 degrees for the 1 p.m. Eastern start. Quarterback Deshaun Watson has started only two games in that type of weather, Seattle (50) in 2017 and Denver (53) in Week 9 of this season. Watson has fared well in these colder games in the NFL throwing for 615 yards with a 66.7 percent completion rate to go along with six touchdowns and three interceptions in temperatures 53 or below at kickoff.

The Redskins defense is only giving up 90.9 yards a game rushing which is fifth best in the NFL. Don’t expect that to prevent the Texans from running the ball at all costs. The Texans are rushing for 120.2 yards a clip (11th in the NFL) and that is even with some really poor games on the ground.

The Texans can throw the ball at will and even without Will Fuller V, they can force the issue with DeAndre Hopkins, Demaryius Thomas and possibly Keke Coutee. The Redskins defense is giving up 270.1 yards through the air which ranks them 25th in the NFL. Getting the offense back on track should be a primary focus heading into the final stretch of the season.

–Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins vs. Redskins CB Josh Norman. Hopkins will continue to be followed by the defense’s top cornerback and this week it is Norman. The Redskins are susceptible to the pass and now it is Hopkins’ turn to remain the primary target for QB Deshaun Watson. Coming off a strong performance against the Denver Broncos, Hopkins can get what he wants with his routes to open up space for Watson to find him.

–Texans interior OL vs. Redskins DT. The Texans have to run the football, to continue to slow down opposing pass rushers. Senio Kelemete, Zach Fulton and Nick Martin will be tasked with moving Redskins interior players Daron Payne and Johnathan Allen. The Texans have to control the line of scrimmage like they have done during their six-game win streak. With how successful the Redskins have been stopping the run, Kelemete, Fulton and Martin have to play their A games this week.