By Paul Gallant, SportsRadio 610By Paul Gallant


HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – After 5 losses in their last 7 games, many Texans put football on the back-burner over the bye last week.

But not new starting quarterback Ryan Mallett.

“I don’t know if you’d call it a break,” said Mallett of his bye week. “Lot of film study. Worked out a little bit but a lot of film study. Just trying to get ready for these guys. [Cleveland’s] got a good team – they’re 6-3 – and we’ve got to execute to have a chance.”

Mallett welcomed the extra week of preparation for his first career start, even though he isn’t quite sure how much the bonus study time will help.

“I guess it helps,” said Mallett. “Obviously I’m ready for Sunday to get here, I’m ready to play. But it gave me time to really watch a lot of the film, a lot of the games they played this year. And some last year. So it’s been good for me as far as a mental standpoint.”

As for his teammates? They all sound like they’re behind him.

“He’s got all the tools,” said center Chris Myers. “He had a successful college career. For him to be able to come in here now and prove himself is going to be a big test, but we’re all behind him 100%.”

“He’s confident. He’s been in the offense for a few years,” said wide receiver Andre Johnson. So he’s comfortable in what he’s doing…Just excited to see him out there on Sunday.”

The defense is intrigued as well.

“We wish him well and we hope he does great,” said J.J. Watt. “Whoever’s running the helm on the offensive side of the ball, we hope they do a great job and we have confidence in them. And we do what we can do to help as a defense.”

“Very strong arm, sharp,” said cornerback Johnathan Joseph. “He’s on top of this things from a playbook standpoint. Understands the offense. Having Fitz here has helped him grow to a certain degree. Playing under Tom Brady when he was in New England I think helped develop him a lot also.”

“He’s got a little bit of swagger about him,” said linebacker Whitney Mercilus. “Can’t wait to see how he does. All the best to him for sure. The thing is, we understand how the game goes. We stand by anybody. He’s our teammate so we’re just going to play.”

Andre Johnson echoed Mercilus. No matter who’s under center, it’s on the rest of the Texans to do their job.

“Whoever’s at quarterback, it doesn’t matter,” said Johnson. “We have to go out and do our jobs. It’s not just going to be about him. It’s going to be about all of us. And all of us need to step our game up and go out there and play the way we know how to play.”

In their last 4 games, the Texans allowed 15 quarterback sacks. With Mallett now under center – a significantly less mobile quarterback than his predecessor Ryan Fitzpatrick – center Chris Myers knows his offensive line won’t have much of a margin for error.

“He’s a true pocket passer,” said Myers. “If he needs to scramble it’s not going to be the same kind of result as if Fitz does. But we understand that. And we understand there’s a certain amount of time we need to be able to keep him protected. ”

No Island For Andre

Andre Johnson seemed especially frustrated when he spoke to the media last Monday. He said today that he isn’t feeling much differently.

“I’m fine,” said Andre Johnson. “Just trying to win games. That’s it. I don’t think it’s any different from when I left. I think everybody feels the same way. We need to do what we need to do to win.”

Johnson seemed annoyed today when ESPN Radio’s David Dalati suggested that he didn’t seem encouraged last week.

“That’s what y’all read into it,” said Johnson. Y’all gotta make a story right? Okay then.”

Johnson, who’d spoken about visiting “an island” over the bye week last Monday, said he “couldn’t make it to the island.”

Joseph Clears Concussion Protocol

Cornerback Johnathan Joseph suffered a concussion during the Texans’ loss to the Eagles. Today, he told the media that he’s cleared the concussion protocol.

“It’s a 3 or 4 day process where you’ve got to go through several steps just to get cleared,” said Joseph “Obviously now I’m done with that process, glad to have it behind me.”

That is not the case for fellow corner Kareem Jackson, who sprained his MCL against the Eagles and is reportedly out 2-4 weeks.

“It’s about the next man up.” said Joseph. “Obviously losing a guy like Kareem – that can play outside and inside in the slot and has been playing great all year – it’s a blow. But at the same time we have some young guys who’ve been stepping up and making plays when their number has been called. So we expect nothing different going forward.”

D.J. Swearinger had a different response when asked about team was feeling from an injury standpoint.

“I don’t know how they’re feeling bro,” said Swearinger. “I’m not in their body.”

Players Feel For Vrabel

Early Saturday, Texans linebacker coach Mike Vrabel tweeted that burglars had broken into his house and stole the three Super Bowl rings he won as a member of the Patriots.

“It’s terrible,” said J.J. Watt. “It’s extremely unfortunate. You work so hard for something like that, especially 3 of them. It’s terribly sad and I sure hope they find those. Because we work so hard for those and he had three. So I hope he gets them back.”

“Hits close to home for myself as well,” said Chris Myers. “I’m right down the street from him so it’s one of those things that it doesn’t just affect the physical things that you have – IE his Super Bowl rings which obviously mean the world to him. But it affects the security of your family. And that’s the biggest thing that concerns me individually…To be able to have the security of your family is the number one thing you want to have when you’re not at work. And that got taken from them.”

Oh hai, Ben Tate

Former running back Ben Tate this weekend – now a member of the Browns – will likely see a lot of time against his old team. With that in mind, Texans players are expecting trash talk “Gosh, a lot of things,” said linebacker Whitney Mercilus. “Probably like some ‘Mama’ jokes maybe. I don’t know.”

It doesn’t sound like Mercilus will give that same trash talk back though. “I’m kind of a quiet player,” continued Mercilus. “I just let my pads do the talking, that’s it.”

Paul Gallant hosts the “B-Straw and Pauly G” show – Tuesdays 9-11 PM, Wednesdays 8-11 PM, and Fridays 8-11 PM – with Brien Straw. Get in contact with Paul on Twitter – @PaulyGSays – or on Facebook – Paul Gallant.

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