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'08 Game Preview: Jaguars


As the Texans gear up for training camp, excitement for the 2008 season continues to build. Here is an in-depth look at each of the team's regular season games with some insights from SportsRadio 610's Marc Vandermeer.

Teams: Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars (Sunday, Sept. 28)

Game Preview: The week after squaring off against Tennessee on the road, the Texans have to turn around and head to Jacksonville to face in the Jaguars in Week 4. The Jags are coming off an 11-5 season and spent the offseason making aggressive moves to bolster their defense. Jacksonville is flat-out good, and this could be one of Houston's toughest games of the year.

{QUOTE}The Jags will be pressuring quarterback Matt Schaub from all sides. They drafted two defensive ends in Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves to add to an already stacked defensive line that features defensive tackle John Henderson and defensive ends Paul Spicer and Reggie Hayward. Last season in Jacksonville, Henderson made it virtually impossible for the Texans to run the ball with the team notching just 61 yards rushing in a 37-17 road loss. Cornerback Drayton Florence joins the Jags in the backfield and will be all over Houston's receiving corps.

The Texans' offensive line is going to face a daunting task in protecting Schaub and giving him enough time to make big plays through the air. Playmaking receivers like Andre Johnson and André Davis will need to come up with long-yardage catches to get the offense going, because relying on the run against Jacksonville won't get many points on the board.

On defense, the Texans will have to contend with the Jags' two-headed monster in Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor, who combined for 215 yards rushing when the teams met in Jacksonville last year. Containing those two means the Texans' front seven has to play big. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who has led the team in tackles for the last two seasons, will need to cover a lot of ground and be a tackling machine. Defensive tackles Amobi Okoye and Travis Johnson, who are pass-rushing tackles, will have to help plug the middle and stop the run. Defensive end Mario Williams and outside linebacker Rosevelt Colvin will be called upon to pressure quarterback David Garrard, forcing him to throw into coverage and make costly turnovers. The Jaguars added wide receivers Jerry Porter and Troy Williamson to provide more explosiveness to their offense. With Garrard coming off a season where he threw for 2,509 yards and 18 touchdowns, the Texans' defense will have to contend with an arsenal of offensive weapons in Jacksonville.

"I think the Texans' defense is going to be better this year," Vandermeer said. "There hasn't been one headline-grabbing acquisition after another, but what you have here is Rosevelt Colvin added as the pass-rushing specialist, and who knows what else he ends up doing. You have Antwaun Molden in the backfield. I think he's going to play a great deal this year - maybe not early, but later.

"Mario is better. You have Tim Bulman added as a pass rusher, probably in the interior with Colvin coming in. The defense will be that much better, but can you stop the run? They were getting gashed in the second half last year. It's not going to matter because you're on your heels all day playing against that Jacksonville running game. You have to force turnovers and find a way to make the Jags make mistakes. They (Texans) have been able to do that in this series."

Key Matchups: The Texans' front seven stopping running backs Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor. Quarterback Matt Schaub making plays against cornerback Drayton Florence and Jacksonville's secondary.

Vandermeer's pick: "I'd have to favor Jacksonville on the road. If I had to pick now and bet the house, of course you're going to pick Jacksonville on the road. But weird things happen in this series. I always go back to '04 when the Jags had every opportunity to make the playoffs and the Texans derailed them with a team that was sub-.500."

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