Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

November 29, 2018 at 2:10 am.


–The Texans had every player at practice with no one sitting out. They had a walk through but there were no significant injuries to report to start the work week for the Texans.

–WR Keke Coutee continues to be slowed by a hamstring injury and left early in the Monday night win over the Titans. Head coach Bill O’Brien calls his injury day-to-day and anticipates that Coutee will have a chance to play on Sunday against the Browns.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: ILB Zach Cunningham. The Texans had been without their young linebacker for the past two games due to a knee injury but he made his return on Monday night against the Tennessee Titans. The Texans limited Cunningham’s work but his impact was felt from the interior of the defense. Cunningham had a key stop on fourth-and-1 to stop the Titans in the red zone and most important allow the Texans to have back their most athletic inside player. With Browns running back Nick Chubb having a strong second half of the season, Cunningham will be responsible not only in the run game but help contain him in the passing game.

GAME PLAN: The Texans offense has not been flashy but they have been efficient especially in the running game. The past two weeks they have run the ball at will against the two top 10 rush defenses in the NFL and that has taken pressure off Deshaun Watson and the offensive line to be a pass-happy unit. The Texans will continue to run the ball and dominate in the trenches and allow Watson to throw the ball when needed. The Texans have been able to keep Watson’s dropbacks under 30 a game and that is where they want to keep it.

Much like last week, the Texans defense has to keep the mobile Baker Mayfield in the pocket and move the ball as a passer. Mayfield has the knack to break the pocket and those are the types of quarterbacks the Texans have always struggled with. A controlled but aggressive pass rush is going to be needed especially with an offensive line that currently has the most pass attempts without a sack but the Texans pass rush has been waking up the past two weeks with 11 sacks in two games. The Texans know they have to get to Mayfield and make his day tough in pocket.

The Texans special teams has to stay consistent in all areas like they have been. Kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn leads the NFL in made field goals and attempts and he has to continue to make those when presented. Also, the Texans could use a big return from DeAndre Carter who showed on Monday night he has what it takes to produce nice plays in the return game.

–Texans T Kendall Lamm vs. Browns DE Myles Garrett. The Texans have focused on implementing the rushing game more during their eight-game win streak and that has helped slow down the pass rush of opposing teams. Garrett is arriving with 10.0 sacks on the season and Lamm will be tasked with slowing him down. Lamm has had a solid season since being inserted as the starter at right tackle and protected Deshuan Watson well. Now he has to show he can remain a consistent player with Garrett next up on the schedule.

–Texans S Tyrann Mathieu vs. Browns TE David Njoku. The Texans will mix and match on the back end to try and slow the talented Njoku but expect Mathieu to get the first crack in coverage. Mathieu has shown he has the ability to cover receivers, backs or tight ends but with Njoku’s size and athleticism it is going to be a tough task on Sunday. Taking away the Browns leading receiver in Njoku (431 receiving yards) is key for Sunday.