PHOTOS: Texans 2014 road stadiums
READ: Top five most intriguing players
READ: Texans to square off against Cowboys
READ: Schedule by the numbers
Vandermeer's View: Tougher schedule than you think
This season, the Texans will play against many familiar faces as a result of a 14-game losing streak that became the catalyst to major changes within the organization. From Matt Schaub to Gary Kubiak, circle the following games on the Texans schedule as ones deemed the biggest faceoffs and reunions of the 2014 season.
1. Week 2: At Oakland
Facing the Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum might just be one of the most intriguing games of the Texans 2014 schedule. Two former Texan starters will be waiting in Oakland, Matt Schaub and Antonio Smith.
After seven seasons, two division titles, two Pro Bowl appearances, and 88 starts, Matt Schaub will square off against
Schaub, who remains the all-time leading passer in franchise history, ended his career with Houston following a March trade with Oakland for a sixth-round draft pick. Last season, Schaub started eight games before being benched, throwing for more interceptions (14) than touchdowns (10) in the team’s 2-14 finish.
“Both parties came to the conclusion it was time for a fresh start,” head coach Bill O’Brien said on March 30.
Smith tested the free agent market after five lucrative seasons in Houston. A fan favorite, the Ninja will reinvent himself as a Raider and face a new starting quarterback for the Texans in 2014.
2. Week 9: PHILADELPHIA
Philadelphia seems to be a veritable hot spot for Texans free agents and veterans. This offseason, the Eagles signed linebacker Bryan Braman to a two-year contract and also added offensive line depth with free agent Andrew Gardner. Braman and Gardner will join six former Texans players on the squad: DeMeco Ryans, James Casey, Connor Barwin, Roc Carmichael, Donnie Jones, and Jeff Maehl.
3. Week 11: At Cleveland
Former second-round draft pick Ben Tate finally has a chance to be the featured back in Cleveland after backing up
After playing through four broken ribs in 2013, Tate landed on injured reserve during the final two weeks of the season but not before finishing the year as the Texan leading rusher. Tate started six games for the injured Foster, saw action in 14 games, and rushed for a team-high 771 yards, averaging 4.3 yards per carry, and scoring four touchdowns.
4. Week 12: CINCINNATI
The Texans will host the Bengals for the first time since their 19-13 victory in the January 2013 Wild Card game at Reliant Stadium, soon to be NRG Stadium. In the dismantling of last year’s coaching staff, defensive backs coach Vance Joseph landed in Cincinnati and soon signed his former starting safety, Danieal Manning, in free agency.
5. Week 16: BALTIMORE
Gary Kubiak returns to Houston for the first time since being dismissed on December 6. The Texans will face several former coaches in the second-to-last game of the 2014 season. Kubiak took over as the Ravens offensive coordinator when Jim Caldwell accepted the head coaching job for Detroit. Kubiak brought along former offensive coordinator Rick Dennison as his quarterbacks coach and Brian Pariani, his tight ends coach.
The Ravens also signed Owen Daniels in free agency. In his eight-year NFL career, Daniels will suit up in a uniform other than a Texans one. The 98th overall pick of the 2006 NFL Draft remains the Texans all-time leader in receptions (385) and receiving yards (4,617) at tight end, becoming just the second player in team history to surpass 4,000 receiving yards. Daniels joins a cast of other former Texans with Jacoby Jones, Justin Forsett, and Cierre Wood.