Houston Texans: Duane Brown

Let's call this an occasional look at the Houston Texans' process of putting together the team they'll take to training camp. There are many steps left in this, but the Texans have made several moves since my last glance at their roster.

We'll start with offense today, and look at defense tomorrow afternoon.

Quarterback: Ryan Fitzpatrick, T.J. Yates, Case Keenum
Analysis: Fitzpatrick is the grizzled veteran of this group, signed in free agency to either hold the Texans over this season or mentor the rookie who they want to become the future of their franchise. They've said they'll add a quarterback or two in the draft, and coach Bill O'Brien indicated three weeks ago that Yates and Keenum would likely go into training camp with the Texans. Yates wants a real shot at being a starter, and I can't blame him. Last week, Yates said he hadn't yet gotten a sense of his role from the new staff.

Running back: Arian Foster, Andre Brown, Jonathan Grimes, Ray Graham, Dennis Johnson, Toben Opurum, Chad Spann
Analysis: Foster is the (now healthy) starter and he said he will participate in organized team activities. Brown offers a good veteran presence and is by all accounts a great guy. But the Texans will need him to stay healthy as he's had injury problems throughout his career. As I said on my video earlier today, the Texans will draft another player, somewhere in the mid-rounds, that could grow into Foster's backup.

Receiver: Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, DeVier Posey, Keshawn Martin, Mike Thomas, Alan Bonner, Alec Lemon
Analysis: This group doesn't need much work, though O'Brien mentioned the need for a slot receiver during a recent town hall. I'd love to see Posey incorporated more into the Texans' next offense.

Tight ends: Garrett Graham, Zach Potter, Ryan Griffin, Brad Smelley, Phillip Supernaw
Analysis: Griffin and Graham both return from last year's roster, with Graham suddenly something of an elder statesman in this group. Since the Texans have 11 draft picks, and could accumulate more before it's over, there could be another tight end added to the mix, but there doesn't have to be.

Offensive line: Duane Brown, Chris Myers, Derek Newton, Brandon Brooks, Ben Jones, Brennan Williams, Cody White, Alex Kupper, David Quessenberry
Analysis: Don't have to worry about left tackle, center or right guard right now. Brown, Myers and Brooks have those positions locked down. Left guard Wade Smith hasn't been (and probably won't be) re-signed and right tackle, which featured Newton as the starter and Ryan Harris on some plays, was a position of concern last season for the Texans. Quessenberry had a lot of people excited before he went on injured reserve with a broken foot last summer. He played tackle at San Jose State, but can play guard as well and could be a good fit at left guard. The Texans are reportedly visiting with Auburn tackle Greg Robinson next week. While that's likely a contingency plan if they trade down, it wouldn't be outrageous to think Robinson could come to the Texans and play right tackle to start his career.
Consider these progress reports more than anything else.

Earlier today we reviewed where the Texans' roster stood defensively. Now we'll move onto offense, again with the understanding that this isn't what the roster will look like six months from now. There will be draft picks, free agents of the rookie and veteran kind and shuffling based on those moves.

It's valuable to look at where things stand now as a means of imagining how far the roster has to go.

With that we continue.

Quarterback: For all the talk of upheaval at this position, the three on the roster right now are the same three who were there when the season ended. Matt Schaub, Case Keenum and T.J. Yates are all still Houston Texans. That is likely to change dramatically by the time the season starts, because even if the Texans don't draft a quarterback first overall, they'll take one at some point.

Running back: Arian Foster remains as the starter, which means the Texans are in pretty good shape here if he returns healthy from his back surgery. There was that Instagram video in which Foster did a back flip ... but no one was hitting him then. Dennis Johnson, Jonathan Grimes, Ray Graham, Toben Opurum and Chad Spann join him on the roster, giving the Texans a lot of options as they try to figure out who they'll keep as their backup, with Ben Tate gone, and who they'll keep as their third running back. Johnson showed promise last season. A draft pick could be part of the mix, too.

Receivers: Andre Johnson comes back for his 12th season after a frustrating 2013 campaign. DeAndre Hopkins and DeVier Posey will play important roles in the Texans' offense next season. As Posey worked to get fully healthy, many thought he should have seen the field more. Keshawn Martin is still on the roster in his third season. Young veteran Mike Thomas signed a futures contract the day after the Texans' season ended. He started his career in Jacksonville and caught that Hail Mary pass Glover Quin knocked down in 2010. Alan Bonner and Alec Lemon, both rookies who wound up on injured reserve last season, are also on the roster right now.

Tight end: Garrett Graham re-signed Thursday with a three-year deal worth $11.25 million and will be the Texans' starter. Houston signed Zach Potter in February and have Ryan Griffin and Phillip Supernaw in the mix. This group is a little bit raw, but solid.

Offensive line: You can rest easy about center, left tackle and right guard as Chris Myers, Duane Brown and Brandon Brooks return. Elsewhere, be fidgety. Right tackle and left guard are still concerns. Though last year's starting right tackle Derek Newton is back, this could be a position addressed in the draft, possibly even with the first overall pick. Left guard Wade Smith is a free agent, but there's a chance he could return to Houston. Without him, I could see Ben Jones starting there or a scenario where the promising sixth-round pick David Quessenberry moves from tackle to guard. Brennan Williams, Cody White and Alex Kupper also return. Williams had a significant knee injury that landed him on injured reserve last year.
Until his staff is complete, Texans head coach Bill O'Brien won't announce any member of it officially, despite the fact that many of them have already been working for weeks and are in Mobile, Ala., scouting players at the Senior Bowl.

One of the vacancies is offensive line coach. The Texans are hoping to land former Titans coach Mike Munchak, a Hall of Fame player as an Oilers lineman. That gives him instant credibility for a line that will need a little bit of tweaking before next season.

That's where we pick up our "What went wrong?" series. We've already examined safeties, running backs, inside linebackers, receivers, outside linebackers, tight ends and defensive linemen.

Key Players: LT Duane Brown, LG Wade Smith, C Chris Myers, RG Brandon Brooks, RT Derek Newton, T Ryan Harris, G Ben Jones

What went wrong?: There will be a large swath of Texans fans who don't want to hear this, but this unit got beat up verbally more than they should have been last season. Yes, there were protection breakdowns; no, the run blocking wasn't perfect every time. But they were seriously hampered by two things: an inexperienced quarterback who lacked an effective mental clock and ridiculous injuries to running backs, who are a big part of pass protection.

Case Keenum averaged 3.7 seconds from the time the ball was snapped to the time he was sacked, according to ESPN Stats & Info. While I didn't crunch this year's numbers, that figure would have been in the top third of the league when it came to most time between snap and sack last season, per numbers examined by Pro Football Focus.

The one position that was a major problem was right tackle, where Newton struggled in pass blocking. The Texans might have had more leeway there had third-round pick Brennan Williams been healthy. Williams spent the whole season on injured reserve.

Reason for hope?: If the Texans can land Munchak, his influence will be good for this group. Smith becomes a free agent in March, so that could be a position that changes. I'm not sure Smith was ever healthy this season, though he insisted he was. Myers and Brown had solid seasons and Brooks steadily improved and showed he can be a strong piece for the future of this line.

Andre Johnson skipping Pro Bowl

January, 17, 2014
Jan 17
This year Andre Johnson was selected to his seventh Pro Bowl.

He won't be going.

The Philadelphia Eagles announced to reporters that receiver DeSean Jackson will replace Johnson in Hawaii this year.

The reason for Johnson passing isn't quite clear, but he's been to several. He missed the Pro Bowl following the 2010 season, but went last year along with eight of his teammates.

Johnson didn't get any All-Pro votes, but received the Pro Bowl selection after his fourth season with at least 1,400 yards (1,407 this year) and his seventh season with at least 1,000 yards.

The Eagles and Texans both gained a Pro Bowler because of a defection by the other. When Eagles offensive tackle Jason Peters bowed out, Texans left tackle Duane Brown replaced him.

Duane Brown headed back to Hawaii

January, 10, 2014
Jan 10
The Houston Texans will send at least three players to the Pro Bowl this season.

Today the team announced Duane Brown was added to the Pro Bowl roster when Philadelphia tackle Jason Peters backed out. He was originally a first alternate.

Brown earned his first Pro Bowl selection last season when he was also an All-Pro. This year he'll join defensive end J.J. Watt and receiver Andre Johnson in Hawaii.

The Pro Bowl is no longer split by conference. Teams will be selected in a draft from the total pool by Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders.

Two more players could still make it as alternates: cornerback Johnathan Joseph and center Chris Myers.

Barnwell: Texans vacancy most attractive

December, 31, 2013
As the Texans work to make Bill O'Brien their next head coach, Bill Barnwell of Grantland.com assesses the best available head coaching jobs.

There's been discussion about whether the Lions job or the Texans job is the best. Barnwell goes with Houston:
"The Texans were the worst team in football, but they've got the first pick in the draft, at least two of the 50 best players in the league (Duane Brown and J.J. Watt), and enough of a defensive core to suggest that their turnaround could be a quick one. They've also been relatively patient with their coaches, as owner Bob McNair will be hiring just his third head coach in the franchise's 13-year existence."

Barnwell does think the Lions have the most talented roster among the teams with coaching vacancies. He doesn't necessarily think that's a positive, though. Having so many positions set means that the new coach won't be able to impact the roster as he sees fit.

He ranks Tampa Bay third, Washington fourth, Minnesota fifth and Cleveland last.

Upon Further Review: Texans Week 15

December, 16, 2013
Reviewing four hot issues from the Houston Texans' 25-3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts:

Brown vs. officials: Texans left tackle Duane Brown didn't agree with two calls that went against him. On one, the official agreed. After calling him for a taunting penalty following Robert Mathis' strip/sack/safety, the official who did so apologized to Brown. "Another guy that came and jumped on me after the play, and then he came and slapped the ball out of my hand," Brown said. "He slapped the ball into my face. So I tossed it at him. I didn’t cock back and beam it at him, I just tossed it at him. Flag." Brown disagreed with a holding call he was tabbed with, too. "Me and Wade (Smith) had a double-team. Wade got a pretty good shot on the guy. ... I tripped over a foot and fell. Actually disengaged a guy to catch myself. ... The guy fell to the ground on top of me. They said I pulled him to the ground. It happens. I wish it didn’t happen. It’s part of the game."

Case Keenum will start the rest of the season: It's not about right now anymore. The Texans want to see what Keenum has, even after his worst outing so far. They want to give him every opportunity to succeed or fail so they go into the offseason knowing exactly what's before them. Without examining the film, Texans interim head coach Wade Phillips couldn't offer a clear explanation of why Keenum struggled so mightily on Sunday. Asked if he believes in Keenum still, Phillips replied: "Well, certainly, we have so far. It's eight starts in a row." Phillips also said plainly that Keenum will continue to start.

Posey injured: DeVier Posey suffered a high ankle sprain on Sunday. Phillips termed that the most serious injury to come out of the game. Posey was never targeted in the game.

Johnson one shy: It's been a season in which Texans receiver Andre Johnson has climbed through lists of receiving records. Johnson's long and illustrious career with the Texans hasn't included very many wins, but it has included a great many outstanding performances. Sunday wasn't one of Johnson's best, especially against the Colts. He caught four passes on 10 targets, two of them drops. He caught passes for a total of 18 yards and no touchdowns. Johnson entered the game with 95 catches. He left it one shy of reaching 100 catches in a season for the fifth time in his career.

Texans hit a franchise low

November, 24, 2013
videoHOUSTON -- The Houston Texans have the worst record in the NFL.

"It’s just unbelievable looking at the team that we have," left tackle Duane Brown said. "Just the kind of season we imagined having coming into this year. Sitting here 11 games in, we’re bottom of the list, that’s unbelievable. Just horrible."

"Do we?" inside linebacker Brooks Reed said. He was told they're tied at the bottom.

"Tied," he said. "I mean, the point is, we're not playing well as a group."

"That’s shocking to hear," cornerback Johnathan Joseph told me. "Sh--, I thought it was other teams worse than us to be honest. I don’t know."

Does it make it worse that this loss was to the Jaguars?

"Yeah it makes it worse," Joseph said. "Losing to Jacksonville’s gotta hurt. I’m not taking anything away from Jacksonville, just with their recent history and stuff like that. I just think top to bottom we have the talent in this locker room to win this ballgame today. But for whatever reason it didn’t happen."

The Texans reached a franchise low in Sunday's 13-6 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, previously the team with the worst record in the NFL. That 2-14 season doesn't qualify because the expectations weren't nearly this high.

This season probably marks a low point in the history of Houston professional sports, becoming the most disappointing NFL team this city's ever had. Sure, the Houston Oilers went from 12-4 to 2-14 in 1994, but they traded Warren Moon before the 1994 season and were decimated by free agency and the start of the salary cap.

This Texans team returned most of the same pieces, especially most of its best pieces. Injuries have hurt, sure, but injuries hurt last season, too. The Texans 12-4 record showed cracks, but the team didn't crumble against less talented teams with the consistency it has this season.

On Sunday the Texans lost to a Jaguars team in rebuilding mode, one that wasn't expecting to win many games. Despite their nine losses, there's an energy in their building, one that comes from an energetic coaching staff and an organization with excitement about the future.

The Texans' 2-9 is more disappointing than that. This season is sucking the energy out of a franchise that came in expecting to be great.

"To be honest with you, it is hard to keep that intensity at a high level when you are going through something like this," running back Ben Tate said. "We are all human beings. So maybe we do need to raise our intensity a little bit."

Duane Brown fined $10,000

October, 9, 2013
HOUSTON -- In a news-filled day here in Houston, here's another bit.

Houston Texans left tackle Duane Brown was fined $10,000 for a hit that resulted in a personal foul penalty during the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers.

The play happened after a fumble by running back Ben Tate. San Francisco cornerback Tarell Brown returned the fumble 16 yards before being pushed out of bounds by quarterback T.J. Yates.

Brown plans to appeal the fine.

Sunday's game was Brown's first after missing two games with a bad case of turf toe. He suffered the injury against the Tennessee Titans in Week 2.

Upon Further Review: Texans Week 5

October, 7, 2013
A review of four hot issues from the Houston Texans' 34-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers:

[+] EnlargeArian Foster
Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY SportsThe performance of RB Arian Foster was one of the few bright spots for Houston on Sunday night.
Special teams struggled: The Texans didn't get much from their special-teams units once again. It started with a missed 45-yard field goal by Randy Bullock that could have cut the 49ers' lead to 7-3. Instead, San Francisco maintained a shutout until the third quarter. Returner Keshawn Martin made some questionable decisions on when to bring the ball out of the end zone, seemingly pressing to make a big play. The Texans allowed a kickoff return of 29 yards and two punt returns for a combined 28 yards. Martin also suffered a shoulder injury for which he was scheduled to have an MRI on Monday.

More on the injury front: Left tackle Duane Brown seemed to have come out of the game in good shape injury-wise after working through a case of turf toe that he suffered against the Tennessee Titans. But safety Ed Reed came up hobbling after stopping a sliding Colin Kaepernick. Reed said after the game that he tweaked his knee on the end of the play, not the hip on which he had arthroscopic surgery in April. Reed also said he wasn't concerned about the injury and it did not need further tests Monday.

Run defense: I'll repeat my thought from Sunday night that you cannot blame the loss on the Texans defense. It is worth noting, though, that the rushing defense was gashed by San Francisco. The Texans gave up 177 rushing yards, 81 of them to Frank Gore, an underrated talent who has worked through injuries for a lot of his career. (Side note: Gore was one of the former University of Miami teammates that Reed talked about wanting to reunite with in free agency. Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne and Gore.) The 49ers averaged 4.9 yards per carry and Kaepernick only ran the ball once. That's 0.7 yards per carry more than the Texans went into the game giving up. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the 49ers gained 118 of their 177 rushing yards before contact.

On the other hand: It was for naught, but given the situation Arian Foster might have played his best game of the season. Before the game, a group of 49ers fans heckled him by saying he wouldn't have a 100-yard performance. Foster almost got there, rushing for 98 yards. But he did it on only 21 attempts for a 4.7 average, a mark well above his 3.8 yards per carry entering Sunday night.
Arian Foster and Frank GoreGetty ImagesTwo of the NFL's top rushers, Arian Foster and Frank Gore, will try to carry their teams Sunday night.

The Houston Texans are not pleased with themselves, and neither is their Week 5 opponent, the San Francisco 49ers.

After starting off Week 4 the right way with a big win at St. Louis, the 49ers bitterly watched the Texans blow a huge fourth-quarter lead at home in an eventual overtime loss to Seattle, allowing the Seahawks to maintain their two-game lead over the 49ers in the NFC West.

San Francisco will try not to fall further behind when it welcomes the shell-shocked Texans to Candlestick Park on Sunday night. Texans reporter Tania Ganguli and I discuss the matchup.

Ganguli: What changed for the 49ers between Weeks 3 and 4? Is it as simple as playing a weaker opponent, or did they rediscover their identity?

Williamson: Easier competition may have had something to do with it. Against Seattle and Indianapolis, the 49ers were outscored by a combined 56-10. Against the Rams, the 49ers had their way in a 35-11 victory. I truly think the 49ers’ struggles this season have been more because of themselves than their opponent. The trouble in Weeks 2 and 3 started on offense. The 49ers badly miss injured receivers Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham; they don’t have much beyond Anquan Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis, who has been injured. Fortunately, the rushing game got going in Week 4. If the 49ers can keep the run game hot and if quarterback Colin Kaepernick can get the ball to Boldin and Davis, the 49ers will be fine. That will take pressure off a good defense that wasn’t the main problem against the Seahawks or the Colts.

Tania, do you believe the Texans are up to the task of staying with the 49ers, especially after the heartbreak of the Seattle loss?

Ganguli: They were angry about that loss, especially J.J. Watt, who held a menacing news conference (menacing in general, not menacing toward reporters) after the game. They have taken steps to regroup mentally, holding a players-only meeting that allowed for venting, but I think their ability to bounce back will depend on being able to fix some of the problems they had in their first game. Those problems go well beyond quarterback Matt Schaub, who made the most costly and talked-about error this past Sunday in throwing a pick-six late in the fourth quarter. The Texans gave up a crucial fumble, dropped a couple of passes and committed a 15-yard penalty that helped set up the game-winning field goal. You’re right that the Texans’ defense hasn’t been the team's biggest problem this season, but Houston has given up drives of 99 and 98 yards this season, and it would like to change that.

How has losing Aldon Smith affected San Francisco’s defense?

Williamson: It would be inaccurate and na´ve to think the 49ers don’t miss Smith. He will be away from the team for about a month as he seeks treatment for alcohol abuse. Smith had 4.5 sacks in the first three games this season, and he has an NFL-high 38 sacks since 2011. Last week, the 49ers dominated the Rams’ offense without Smith and star inside linebacker Patrick Willis, who was out with a groin injury, and recorded five sacks. Rookie Corey Lemonier and special-teamer Dan Skuta both played well in place of Smith, and linebackers NaVorro Bowman and Ahmad Brooks led the way with big games. Still, Smith is such a presence. The 49ers will be hard-pressed to have sustained dominance without him.

Tania, do you think the Texans can take advantage of Smith's absence?

Ganguli: The Texans have had their own issues in the trenches lately. Left tackle Duane Brown has missed the past two games with turf toe and is still considered day-to-day. Left guard Wade Smith rotated with second-year guard Ben Jones last weekend. Coach Gary Kubiak said that was to preserve Smith for the long term; Smith had knee surgery during the preseason and returned from it after three weeks. Meanwhile, right tackle Derek Newton, another young player, has really struggled. In fact, Brown’s replacement, Ryan Harris, has played far better than Newton, Houston's regular starter on the other side. Now right guard Brandon Brooks is hurt with a toe injury that’s got his foot booted. The most consistent player, in terms of health and production, on the offensive line has been center Chris Myers, but Schaub has faced a lot of pressure this season.

Speaking of Schaub, he had a rough weekend against the best secondary in the NFL. What challenges will he face against the 49ers?

Williamson: I think Schaub’s struggles start with him, and I think the 49ers will try to pressure him quickly to see if he crumbles again. You know better than I do, but from seeing replays, Schaub looked broken after the Richard Sherman pick-six. The 49ers are well aware that Schaub has thrown interceptions that have been returned for touchdowns in the past three games, and they will be looking to add to the list. A player to watch is rookie safety Eric Reid. He has proven to be a ballhawk already. I could see him benefiting from Schaub’s issues.

This is a huge key to the game, Tania. Do you think Schaub can bounce back and be effective?

Ganguli: That will be the most important factor in this game. While I don’t blame the entire collapse on Schaub, you’re absolutely right that he looked broken after Sherman’s interception. By contrast, in Week 2, Schaub threw a late pick-six against Tennessee that put the Texans in an eight-point hole, but he recovered quickly enough to lead a game-tying drive that forced overtime. He didn’t bounce back as well against the Seahawks. He made a few nice throws, including a 17-yard pass to Andre Johnson, but overall, looked rattled. If he can’t recover, the Texans have no chance. But if he can rediscover the guy who led that comeback effort you and I watched live against San Diego in Week 1, I think the Texans are in good shape.


RTC: Duane Brown expects to play

October, 3, 2013
Reading the coverage of the Houston Texans...

Quarterback Matt Schaub is tuning out criticism, writes the Houston Chronicle's John McClain. During his press conference yesterday, Schaub also said he did not close his Twitter account because of anything other than the fact that he doesn't use it often. His tone indicated an annoyance at the hubbub surrounding that move. I came away from his press conference feeling that he hasn't been able to completely ignore the uproar about him lately, as he tries to assert often, but that he'd like to move on from it.

McClain's notebook also examines Gary Kubiak's reaction to the Texans' players-only meeting and notes that left tackle Duane Brown said Wednesday that he expects to play this weekend in San Francisco.

Arian Foster wouldn't talk about the players-only meeting he called on Monday. Other players, though, offered a window into what was said, writes CSNHouston.com's Dave Zangaro.

Brian Cushing participated in the Texans' "jog-through" practice yesterday as he worked through the league's concussion protocol. He's expected to pass the final stage on Friday, writes Deepi Sidhu of HoustonTexans.com.
HOUSTON -- What Texans coach Gary Kubiak says about injuries is usually a bit different than what appears on the injury report when the Texans have a light practice. That's because according to league policy, if a team does a walk-through, or what Kubiak called a jog-through, it must estimate how much that player would have participated in a full practice.

On Wednesday afternoon, he said Duane Brown (toe) and Brian Cushing (concussion) participated in practice, while Greg Jones, Johnathan Joseph, Owen Daniels and Andre Johnson were rested. Tim Dobbins (hip) and Brandon Brooks (toe) did not practice due to injury.

The official injury report released this evening listed J.J. Watt and Cushing among those who did not practice -- Watt for that Frankenstein gash on his nose that required six stitches during the game, and also because of a groin injury. Darryl Sharpton (foot/hip) and Wade Smith (knee) were also held out.

Kubiak couched his injury announcements during his press conference by saying Wednesday's practice was not very rigorous.

"We might have had 10 or 11 guys who wouldn't have participated had we done something different, so we needed the reps," Kubiak said. "We slowed it down a little bit to make sure we got the teaching. We're back to work."


Andre Johnson feels like he'll play

September, 26, 2013
HOUSTON -- Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson was limited in practice on Thursday, coach Gary Kubiak said, but he's feeling good about his chances.

"Right now, I feel like I'll play," Johnson said.

Johnson clarified that while he got kneed in the shin in Baltimore, he didn't have any bone damage. Rather, he suffered a deep bruise to the muscle around there. The injury occurred in the second quarter of the Texans' 30-9 loss. Johnson tried to return after halftime, but he was not effective enough to finish the game.

Limited participation is a step up from where Johnson was Wednesday, when he did not practice at all.

The Texans were also missing both starting cornerbacks in practice: Johnathan Joseph (foot) and Kareem Jackson (sick). Left tackle Duane Brown was limited and said after practice that he doesn't want to aggravate his turf-toe injury.
BALTIMORE -- There would never be a good time for the Texans to lose left tackle Duane Brown, who stayed home in Houston this weekend with a turf toe injury.

But this week is especially inopportune.

The Ravens' official website used the word "terrorizes" to describe what Baltimore's pass rush did to poor Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden last weekend.

With dominant defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs healthy and the additions of outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil and defensive end Chris Canty, the Ravens pass rush was expected to be formidable. Baltimore sacked Weeden five times had a total of 12 quarterback hits, and Weeden left the game late with a thumb injury. So far, the Ravens have eight sacks and 19 quarterback hits through the first two games of the season.

"Against the Browns, we were rotating so much that towards the end of the game, I was chasing [Jason] Campbell and was able to get there because I was fresh and was rotating throughout that game," Ngata told reporters in Baltimore on Wednesday. "I can feel it already [benefiting us], and it’s great being able to be on the sideline and know those guys can get the job done as well.”

The Texans didn't give Brown much, if any, help when he faced Dwight Freeney and the Chargers in Week 1.

But they'll need extra blockers to help backup tackle Ryan Harris, who will have the added difficulty that comes with switching from right to left tackle. He practices on both sides, but game speed is a different matter for flipping your mindset. It will help to have depth at tight end and have Garrett Graham, who was questionable with a hip injury on the depth chart, healthy. It also helps to have fullback Greg Jones, who can block defensive ends one on one.