By Paul Gallant, SportsRadio 610By Paul Gallant


HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – In six days, Bill O’Brien, the Texans, and new starting quarterback Ryan Mallett will take on the 6-3 Cleveland Browns. At his press conference today, O’Brien explained that he’s looking forward to seeing the four year veteran get his first NFL start.

“I’m excited for him,” said O’Brien. “I think this is his opportunity to go out there and lead this team. And he’s excited. He was here all weekend. Spent a lot of time on his own game and getting ready for Cleveland. He’s very, very excited, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Mallett, who isn’t exactly fleet of foot, may have issues behind an offensive line that has allowed 15 sacks in the last 4 games. However, Bill O’Brien feels Mallett gets rid of the ball quickly.

“We’ll have to see how he is in the game,” said O’Brien. “But in practice since the day he arrived here, there’s been a lot of improvement with that from his days – when I was with him in New England obviously he was only a rookie – to where he is now in practice.”

With the bye week coming half way through the season, the Texans coaching staff used the time to evaluate themselves as a team.

“We’re a team that plays very hard for 60 minutes,” said O’Brien. “We’ve got to be able to run the ball on offense. We’ve got to be able to stop the run on defense. We’ve got to be able to create some explosive plays and stop explosive plays on defense. So we looked at all that, and we looked at our tendencies in those different areas, third down, red area, and we tried to work on those things.”

When they return to practice Wednesday, O’Brien plans to shift the focus to entirely on Cleveland.

“Cleveland is a really good football team,” said O’Brien. “They’re very well coached. Quarterback Brian Hoyer is playing well. They run the ball. They’ve done a good job getting the ball downfield. [Offensive coordinator] Kyle Shanahan’s doing a great job there…It’s a big challenge for us.”

O’Brien was extremely complimentary of Cleveland’s defense, powered by one of the NFL’s best secondaries.

“Joe Haden is one of the best cornerbacks in the league,” said O’Brien. “[Safety] Donte Whitner has been in this league for a long time. I’m familiar with him from his days in Buffalo. Tough, tough guy. Great tackler. Competitive in coverage. Great ball skills. They all have good ball skills back there. It’s a very challenging secondary to go against.”

On the injury front, O’Brien said cornerback Johnathan Joseph “looks like he’ll be ready to go” on Sunday. As for Kareem Jackson – who reportedly sprained his MCL against the Eagles – O’Brien said he probably wouldn’t play against the Cleveland. As for the other injured Texans – including Arian Foster (groin), the head coach reported them as “day to day”.

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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