Less than 24 hours after facing the Titans and just over 72 hours away from playing their next opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles, on Thursday Night Football, Head Coach Lovie Smith addressed the media. Here are three takeaways from Monday's press conference:
1. Turning the page to the Eagles
The Texans will quickly turn the page from their 17-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans and begin preparing for the undefeated Eagles on a short week.
"When you have disappointment like that, the good part is that you get to play a game sooner than normal so this Thursday game can be a blessing in disguise a little bit," Smith said.
That being said, the Eagles offense poses a big challenge for the Texans. According to this nugget from the NFL's press release:
Entering Week 9, Hurts leads all NFC quarterbacks in combined passing and rushing yards per game (300.3) and is one of three NFC quarterbacks (JIMMY GAROPPOLO and GENO SMITH) with a passer rating of 100-or-higher (105.1). The Eagles lead the NFL with 14 rushing touchdowns this season, including six from Hurts and five from running back Miles Sanders.
"Jalen Hurts, I would say he's an outstanding passer, outstanding thrower on what we're seeing from him, running game to back that up," Smith said. "I'm talking about the athlete at the quarterback position brings another dimension of them taking off and running the football. A part of why they're one of the best rushing teams is based on what they do running the ball at the quarterback position too. Miles Sanders, just an excellent player. What's his weight? Smaller guy, almost 210, 220-pound guy, good size, can make you miss in the open field, can catch the ball out of the backfield. Whenever you have an athlete like that, they can do multiple things and you put the quarterback into the mix, that's really hard."
2. Rookie impact
With injuries on defense, rookie defensive linemen Kurt Hinish and Thomas Booker made their first career NFL starts on Sunday. While it wasn't always perfect, Smith expects the rookies to continue to improve with increased playing time.
"We're going to play the guys that we think give us the best chance," Smith said. "If we take somebody out, we think we need to look at someone else and the rookies, well that's who we have right now. Those guys had their moments too but when the Malik Collins, Michael Dwumfours, some of the guys that normally play, Jonathan Greenards, aren't out there, it's the next guy's time to step up and sometimes the play isn't always exactly the way we want it to be but it will get better as they keep playing."
In total, the Texans started a franchise-record eight rookies against the Titans, surpassing the previous high of six rookies which, was done three different times in 2002.
3. Starting lineup changes/non-changes
DL Maliek Collins (chest) and WR Nico Collins (groin) were ruled out for Sunday's game following injuries suffered in Week 7 at Las Vegas. With a short week, here is what Smith had to say about their possible return for Thursday night.
"It would help if there was more time but we won't put any of the guys out there until they are ready to go," Smith said. "We'll see how it goes. I know their rehab is going along, coming along well."
During Sunday's game, DB Eric Murray entered the game in the second half for starter Jonathan Owens. Murray finished tied for the second-most tackles with six (five solo) and Smith said the seventh-year veteran "played an outstanding game."
"Some days, you know, we got a baseball team playing," Smith said. "Sometimes you got to bring in a relief hitter. I think you need to do that in football sometimes too and that's what we did with that. Jonathan is still our starter and all that, but that move we made yesterday, Eric came in and tackled well."
The Texans will host the Eagles on Thursday Night Football. Browse tickets.
Kickoff is set for 7:15 p.m. CT and will be streaming on Amazon Prime Video.