Wed, 28 Oct 2020

Texans host the Ravens | First Glance

Houston Texans
19 Sep 2020, 19:02 GMT+10

Drew Dougherty

The Texans (0-1) host the Ravens (1-0) Sunday afternoon. It's the home opener for Houston, and there won't be any fans in attendance. Here are five things to watch between the reigning AFC South and AFC North champs. Kickoff is at 3:25 p.m. CT inside NRG Stadium. First Glance is presented by First Community Credit Union.

1) Do it again, David - In his Texans debut, David Johnson was one of the few bright spots for Houston. The veteran running back gained 77 yards on 11 carries, and sliced through the Chiefs defense for a 19-yard score. He also caught three passes for 32 yards. Despite that, he still thought he could've done more.

"I still had a couple more yards I left on the field and I've just got to improve on that aspect," Johnson said. "And then just in the passing game, a couple routes I wish I could've got back where Deshaun (Watson) was looking for me and I just ran the wrong route. So, continue to correct those mistakes and building from that."

Fellow running back Duke Johnson is questionable for Sunday with an ankle injury, but head coach Bill O'Brien said he's "trending" in the right direction. If Duke Johnson doesn't play, it will be interesting to see how many more touches David Johnson gets, and what running back might slide into the mix behind him. Buddy Howell and Scottie Phillips are options.

2) C & C reception factory? - Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks were veteran receivers the Texans acquired this offseason. The duo was rather quiet in the season-opener, combining to catch four passes for 43 yards. Those numbers will likely rise in Week 2, as the pair now has a game under their belts with quarterback Deshaun Watson.

"In the passing game, it takes a lot to build that chemistry and that trust," Cobb said. "It'll come. It's a matter of when. Obviously, we've got to have that urgency moving forward."

Cooks liked what he saw from Watson in his first game with the quarterback.

"The guy plays fast," Cooks said. "He's real decisive. His competitive nature is out of this world. The guy never stops and the play is never over, so you've got to respect that coming from your QB."

3) Action Jackson - After a 2019 in which he was the NFL MVP, Lamar Jackson began 2020 with a bang. In Week 1 at Cleveland, he tossed three touchdown passes, completed 20-of-25 passes for 275 yards and ran seven times for 45 yards. He didn't turn the ball over, and Baltimore cruised to a 38-6 win over the Browns.

He diced up the Texans last November, throwing four touchdowns and running 10 times for 79 yards.

The Texans are no strangers to his talents, and know he's a dangerous player.

"He can start and stop on a dime," outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus said. "He's already putting a lot of guys on skates so guys got to be very disciplined as far as the angles that they take on him. So, he's absolutely an impressive and electrifying player from a quarterback standpoint."

The wheels are impressive, but Jackson's arm is dangerous, too. He completed 66.1 percent of his passes last season, and threw 36 touchdowns to just six interceptions.

"He can obviously do a lot of great things with his feet and his quickness and his speed and his ability to move around, but he's also got the ability to stand in the pocket and throw the ball as well," defensive end J.J. Watt said. "Any time you have to defend both of those things with an equal level of excellence, it's extremely difficult. It's a great challenge for us."

4) No running, please - Houston must be better on run defense than they were at Kansas City. The Ravens bring a high-octane attack to NRG Stadium a week after Chiefs rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire racked up 138 yards on 25 carries.

The Ravens boast a ground attack that averaged 5.5 yards per carry a year ago. With so many options due to Jackson and his running backs, Texans linebacker Zach Cunningham boiled down the defense's task to keeping their collective eyes on the ball.

"That's probably one of the most important things," Cunningham said. "Everybody keying the ball. Everybody getting to the ball. Everybody working together as a defense. That's what we're going to have to do to stop them."

Weaver outlined the challenge with Baltimore, and what the Texans defense must accomplish.

"There's so much assignment football involved," Weaver said. "You've got to be really detailed in what you're teaching defensively and then you've still got to tackle that quarterback who is dynamic with the ball in his hands. They definitely present a problem. They do a great job, but I think we're going to be up to the task this weekend."

5) No fans, no problem - In an incredibly weird year, it'll be a jarring sight to see an empty NRG Stadium. Because of COVID-19, there won't be any fans in the building. Every preseason, regular season and postseason game in franchise history has been sold out, so for the first time since their youth days, the Texans won't have anyone cheering them on in a game.

"Really like peewee or flag football," quarterback Deshaun Watson said, when asked the last time he played without fans. "Something like that where it's just family members in town. That's pretty much it. That's a while back."

Despite the lack of Texans fans in attendance, Watson said he and his teammates won' t have any problem getting juiced up for the contest.

"Once we step on the field as players and coaches, we're so locked in on the task and game plan ahead, we kind of just block out that noise," Watson said. "Even if there's a crowd going, of course you can feel the energy of the crowd and things like that but going out the first week and seeing the games around, people were just locked in on what their task and what their job was."

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