By Dave Thomas
It was just a season ago that the Houston Texans had captured the AFC South Division by a mere game over the upstart Indianapolis Colts.
En route to doing that, some had the Texans as the surprise team that might come out of the AFC to reach their first-ever Super Bowl. While those expectations came up short in a playoff lost to the New England Patriots (41-28), there are high hopes once again in the Lone Star State for the team entering its 12th season in the league.
The Texans get a chance to kick things off properly this Monday evening on the West Coast, traveling to San Diego to meet the AFC West Chargers.
A win for head coach Gary Kubiak’s squad could propel them to a good start to a five-week stretch of games, contests that involve dates with Baltimore (Sept. 22), Seattle (Sept. 29), and San Francisco (Oct. 6).
But before Houston meets that tough three-week slate of games, business begins Monday night in America’s Finest City, a game against a San Diego team that has not tasted the playoffs for three straight seasons.
While San Diego has been seemingly able to work around injuries in preseason camp, including the loss of linebacker James Mouton and wide receiver Danario Alexander to season-ending ACL injuries, the Texans will be looking to get themselves healthy for what they hope is another AFC playoff run.
Many Eyes on Reed and Cushing
Heading into Monday’s date with the Bolts, the Texans reported on Friday that a number of players who were sporting injuries managed to practice this week, though some could be doubtful for Monday’s opener.
Among the more notable names, former Baltimore Raven free safety Ed Reed saw limited action in practice, looking to recover from a hip injury.
Meantime, inside linebacker Brian Cushing (knee) and running back Arian Foster (calf) did fully participate in workouts, as did tight end Garrett Graham (hip) and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (concussion).
For the Texans, having Cushing back at close to full strength would be a major lift for the defense, this after the star tore his left ACL in Game 5 last season, missing the rest of the campaign. Cushing also got much richer this week, inking a nearly $56 million extension to keep him in Houston for six additional years.
Foster a Workhorse in the Backfield
As Houston continues to solidify its defense, the hope is that Foster will go from start to finish this season unscathed, this after battling injuries to his calf and back during preseason.
A year ago, the Mission Bay High product (San Diego) rushed for 1,424 yards and 15 touchdowns, a weapon that opens up the passing game for quarterback Matt Schaub.
With a number of weapons on both sides of the ball at their disposal, the Texans (3.5 favorite) will certainly give the Chargers all they want and then some when the season’s first full week of action finishes up in Southern California.
For more news and updates, visit Texans Central.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.