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Texans To-Do List vs. Oakland

Posted Nov 16, 2013

The Texans are focused on the following grocery list of items to get a much-needed win against the Raiders.

1. Contain Terrelle Pryor

The Oakland quarterback currently ranks first among all NFL quarterbacks with 504 rushing yards. Pryor also leads the entire league with 7.4 yards per carry, beating out Seattle’s Russell Wilson (5.6 yards/carry), and Washington’s Alfred Morris (5.2 yards/carry).

“He’s the biggest, fastest quarterback in the league,” defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. “I put him right with Cam Newton. The guy can make plays just by running the football, as good or better than any quarterback in the league. He has the longest quarterback run in the history of the National Football League against a pretty good Pittsburgh defense. He went 93 (yards) against them. He’s a quarterback so he can throw the ball, but he’s also a great runner and has great speed and has great size. He’s a real threat.”

Pryor is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game after being limited in practice this week with a knee injury. If he can’t go, backup Mike McGloin will start in his place. McGloin made his NFL debut in Week 9 against Philadelphia when he played in relief for Pryor, completing 7-of-15 passes for 87 yards and leading the Raiders on a touchdown drive.

2. Second-half scoring

The Texans have been outscored by opponents 116-26 in the second half of their seven losses. With opposing teams have been throwing more blitzes at Case Keenum after halftime, the offensive line is focused on increased pass protection. The Raiders defense is tied for second in the NFL with the most three-and-out drives, having forced opponents to 32 three-and-out possessions this season.

“They’re pretty big up front,” Duane Brown said. “Do a pretty good job of stopping the run. Blitz from everywhere, from all angles. In run game, in pass protection, we’re going to have to communicate and make sure we are all on the same page.”

The key to a better second half this week against the Raiders comes down to energy and execution, according to Brown.

“We’ve got to keep our energy level up,” Brown said. “We come out firing on all cylinders in the first half and we just have to continue to keep that pace going in the second half. And just execute better. Teams make adjustments, we make adjustments and whatever play is called up, we have to execute it better than they do.”

3. Stop the run

Oakland ranks fifth in the NFL with 143.2 rushing yards per game. Darren McFadden is ruled out of Sunday's game at Reliant Stadium with a hamstring injury but Rashad Jennings, former backup to Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville, has been successful in his place. Jennings has put up 283 yards of total offense over the past two weeks.

“To have a quarterback that can run and then have two capable running backs that can run the ball, it’s a tough challenge,” linebacker Joe Mays said. “We definitely got our work cut out for us this week.”

The linebacking corps definitely does. Mays is questionable with an oblique and a knee injury. If he can’t start, Jeff Tarpinian will be the next man up. Tarpinian was signed to the active roster on October 28 and played in Sunday’s 27-24 loss to Arizona.

4. Win the turnover battle…again.

The Texans won the turnover battle at Arizona but are still 0-2 in games with a positive turnover differential. The defense continues to focus on forcing turnovers and hopes it leads to a win on Sunday.

J.J. Watt, who had two forced fumbles and recovered both against the Cardinals, leads the Texans with 69 tackles, 6.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and four passes defensed. He becomes the only player in the NFL this season with multiple sacks, passes defensed, forced fumbles, and fumble recoveries.

“That’s all I can do, is look for other ways where I can help us win and look for other ways where I can contribute and I think as long as each player looks themselves in the mirror and can do that, then that’s when we’re playing our best football and we’re playing together as a team,” Watt said. “But all I can do is every single day go to work and all we can do as a team is every single day put our best foot forward. That’s all there is to it. Like I said, we needed to create some turnovers. This game, we got some turnovers. We just need to win, man. We need to win.”


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