Following the Houston Texans' 38-20 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, Lovie Smith met with media. Here are three things from the head coach's Monday press conference:
1. Mounting injuries
The Texans suffered mounting injuries in Sunday's loss. Nico Collins left the game with a groin injury and did not return. The second-year wide receiver had three catches for 33 yards yesterday and currently leads the Texans with 305 receiving yards.
"Nico's (Collins) position of course, he has become more and more of what we are doing offensively," Smith said. "That production has been important for some of the growth we've made offensively."
DL Maliek Collins exited the game early with a chest injury and did not return. Late in the fourth quarter, both OL Kenyon Green and OL Tytus Howard were shaken up on plays.
"For Maliek (Collins), he's our three-technique," Smith said. "Everything starts up front at the defensive line. The engine of the defensive line is the three-technique position. Playing without him, I think he only had 10 plays yesterday, it hurt us a lot. You can trace some of the problems we had yesterday to a player like that not being out there."
With an official injury report not out until Wednesday, Smith declined to speculate on the status of the injured players until then.
2. Earning more playing time
RB Dare Ogunbowale saw his first snaps of the year on offense when he entered the game on the Texans' final offensive series. In his eight snaps, Ogunbowale racked up 54 yards receiving on five receptions, averaging 10.8 yards per catch, and had one carry for eight yards. Smith liked the production he saw from the fourth-year running back.
After spending the first five games of the season on IR, Christian Harris made his NFL debut. Smith alluded to possibly increasing the rookie linebacker's role moving forward among a deep linebackers group.
"Who are our best options that we feel like we can be successful with defensively? If we think he's one of them, we'll find ways for him to get on the field," Smith said about Harris. "I would say Christian Harris is one of those guys and we found a way to start the process yesterday. He didn't do anything yesterday that said we should give him less. To me, he did things that said give him more."
3. Optimism on offense
Davis Mills showed improvement in his 17th career NFL start. He completed 28-of-41 attempts for 302 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for a passing rating of 95.8, the second passer rating of at least 95.0 this season and his fifth career game with at least 300 passing yards. Smith discussed what he liked from the quarterback's performance in Week 7.
"He made some tough throws yesterday," Smith said. "I liked his pocket presence, checking the ball down. Just keeping us in the game, what an NFL quarterback should do. I like the way he led us on the offensive side. We didn't play a complete game. Most quarterbacks in the NFL don't. We have some issues we need to clean up, but the quarterback position is not it."
As a unit, Houston's offense converted 9-of-15 third downs (60 percent), a marked improvement from averaging 29.23 percent heading into Sunday's game.
"Yesterday, we were able to sustain and drive, third downs were part of it," Smith said. "All throughout, I thought we were in pretty good control. You get to third down and that's playmaker time too. Nico (Collins), Brandin (Cooks), guys have stepped up, Jordan Akins too. Our tight end (position) has really gotten involved and making plays for that also."
The Texans will host the Tennessee Titans in Week 8. Kickoff from NRG Stadium is set for 3:05 p.m. CT on CBS and SportsRadio 610.