By Dave Thomas
Nothing stirs the pot more around the NFL than when teams are battling a division rival. Such is the case this Sunday as the Houston Texans play host to the Tennessee Titans at Reliant Stadium.
Coming off of a wild 31-28 come-from-behind victory in San Diego against the Chargers this past Monday evening, the Texans look to kick off their home opener with a win against a Tennessee team that raised a few eyebrows last Sunday in a win (16-9) at Pittsburgh.
Houston (1-0) can only hope that it does not have to rally from three scores down against the Titans as it did against the Chargers. Trailing 28-7, the Texans posted 24 unanswered points in securing the season-opening win. With Randy Bullock’s game-winning 41-yard field goal with five seconds left in the contest, Houston got out of Southern California relatively unscathed, though a few players left with some bumps and bruises.
As the Texans prepared for the Titans this week, several players were still question marks as to their full availability for Sunday’s meeting with the Titans.
When Will Reed Hit the Field?
Free safety Ed Reed, acquired in the off-season from the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, continues to deal with a hip injury that may lead to him missing his second straight game. Meanwhile, tight end Owen Daniels (5 receptions, 67 yards, 2 TDs in the win at San Diego) saw limited participation in practice this week due to back and groin issues. If Daniels is unable to go on Sunday, it would be one less weapon for quarterback Matt Schaub, who finished the win over the Chargers with 346 yards passing and three TDs.
A number of other players were also battling the injury bug heading into the Tennessee contest, though none appeared serious enough to sideline them for this Sunday’s game.
Among the key players fighting injuries: inside linebacker Brian Cushing (knee), running back Arian Foster (calf), running back Ben Tate (shoulder) and defensive end J.J. Watt (quadricep). Cushing, who played in his first contest since suffering a season-ending injury in the fifth game of the 2012 season, accounted for four solo tackles in the win over the Chargers.
Even though the Texans as a team were held to 120 yards of rushing in the San Diego win, both Foster and Tate provided a one-two punch. The former finished with 57 yards on the ground, while the latter tallied 55 yards rushing. While most defenses key-in on Foster, Tate has proven himself to be a nice alternative for Schaub and Co. when looking to chew up some yardage and clock.
With a stretch of games following Tennessee, at Baltimore (Sept. 22), home against Seattle (Sept. 29) and at San Francisco (Oct. 6), the Texans surely want to make quick work of the Titans to go 2-0.
Unlike their performance against the Chargers, however, no doubt the Texans do not want to have to rally from three touchdowns behind against a Tennessee team that has to be feeling pretty good about itself after the first week.
For more Houston Texans news and updates, visit Houston 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.