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5 Things to Watch: Texans vs. Titans

Posted Sep 14, 2013

Drew Dougherty's '5 Things to Watch' details some of the dynamic storylines from Week 2's matchup with Tennessee.

Here are Five Things to Watch when the Texans line up against the Titans during their Week 2 matchup at Reliant Stadium.

1. Stopping Watt- In both 2012 matchups against Tennessee, defensive end J.J. Watt had his way with the Titans. He logged a pair of sacks in both wins last year and finished with a combined 11 tackles in the two games. He also batted a pair of passes in the road win last December, and forced a fumble there too.

In the offseason, Tennessee bolstered their offensive line by signing veteran guard Andy Levitre from Buffalo, and drafting Alabama guard Chance Warmack in the first round.

"They made some good moves to help bolster their offensive line," Watt said. "They’ve got some good players and it’s always a good challenge. Every week’s a good challenge.”

How the Titans' interior line handles Watt will be intriguing. He was held without a sack in the Week 1 win at San Diego, but consistently put pressure on Chargers' quarterback Philip Rivers.

2. Bow to your Sensei- Defensive end Antonio Smith makes his 2013 regular season debut after sitting out Week 1 because of a suspension.

The 'Ninja Assassin' tallied a sack and forced a fumble in both contests last season versus the Titans, and also recovered a fumble in Tennessee. His return gives the defense one more weapon.

"I really think we did miss him in some situations and going through the course of getting ready the night before the game," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "He’s always fun to be around the night before the game, the energy that he brings. I know we missed him and we’re just glad to have him back.”

Smith is excited to be back, but doesn't plan on doing anything out of the ordinary in his return.

“The only thing that I hope to bring is me," Smith said. "I don’t know 'extra' I’m going to bring. I think I bring a lot just in general.”

3. Carry On- Against the Chargers, running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate ran for a combined 112 yards on 27 carries. They also caught eight passes for 40 yards, as a tandem. How the carries are distributed is definitely something to watch.

Tate, however, saw half the carries as Foster but finished with 55 yards. At 6.1 yards per pop, he was extremely effective.

But it was Foster's first game action since the loss last January at New England. With 18 carries out of the gate, and six catches as well, Foster saw quite a bit of action in his 2013 debut. Kubiak would prefer the two to split carries more equitably.

"I’d like it to be pretty close," Kubiak said. "I think we need to be pretty close to even as we move forward. Remember, that was his first time out this year.”

Despite the different running styles, having a pair of productive backs has worked well for the Texans.

“We complement each other," Tate said. "We help make the team better. He’s a good running back. I’m a good running back. We help keep each other fresh. There’s always an upside to it all and it’s better for this team I think.”

4. Johnson awareness- Titans' running back Chris Johnson gained 70 yards on the ground, but carried the ball 25 times. He wasn't targeted in the passing game. Last year against the Texans, though, he averaged 5.1 yards per carry.

His career against the Texans has been hot and cold. In 10 games since 2008, he's cracked the 100-yard mark four times. He never gained more than 74 yards in any of the other six games. He's always, however, on the minds of the Texans' defense when facing the Titans.

"Any time he gets a hole, he can break it all the way," defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. "There are just a handful of guys that can go all the way on one play from any part of the field and he’s one of those guys.”

5. Tough Talker- Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey was impressive in Tennessee's season-opening win at Pittsburgh. He had a pair of sacks and three total tackles, and after the game said the Titans would "make sure" to put a foot up the Texans' rear.

There's never been any love lost between the franchises, with fistfights popping up every few years.

But Casey, who was drafted in 2011 out of the University of Southern California, will be a player to monitor. The interior of the Texans' offensive line, with guards Wade Smith and Brandon Brooks, and center Chris Myers, will be tested.

Twitter.com/DoughertyDrew

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