Skip to main content

5 Things to Watch: Texans at Oakland

*Here are Five Things to Watch when the Texans face the Raiders in Oakland on Sunday at 3:25 p.m. CT (CBS-11/KHOU).

1. Arian's Touches: Arian Foster has a unique history with the Oakland Raiders. But the way he'll be deployed this Sunday at Coliseum will be different than the way he was used in 2010 there, and the way he was utilized in the Week 1 win over Washington.

"If one of the things that's important for this team winning in a game is for him to carry the ball 25 to 30 times, 35 times, then that is what we have to do," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "If it's 10 times and maybe he catches more passes in a game, maybe that is what we have to do. We have to change up how we're using him every week."

He cracked the 100-yard mark on the ground, and carried 27 times against Washington, but Foster wasn't satisfied.

"I felt like I played OK," Foster said. "There are things that I felt like I had to do better at as well."

Keep an eye on how Foster gets the ball against the Raiders.

2. Tight End Two-Step?: Garrett Graham missed every practice last week, and was inactive against Washington because of a back injury. He returned to work on Wednesday, but rookie C.J. Fidedorowicz was out with a foot injury.

How much each gets used, in addition to second-year tight end Ryan Griffin will be something to monitor on Sunday in Oakland.

During the win over Washington, Fiedorowicz and Griffin were targeted a combined three times. Griffin had the position's lone reception, and it was good for a pickup of six yards. The ball distribution to the tight end will likely change this weekend for the Texans.

O'Brien said Graham will suit up, and Fiedorowicz is day-to-day. Griffin, according to O'Brien, has grown quite a bit as a player over the last six months.

"I have a lot of confidence in him," O'Brien said. "I've put Griff in that category of an improving player, a player that since we arrived here has improved in all areas."

3. Offensive Tempo: Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said he's "comfortable with" speeding up the tempo of the offense. O'Brien said the Texans "need to have more up-tempo".

How that translates to Sunday's matchup with the Raiders will be interesting to see, because it doesn't

just mean the Texans will go no-huddle.

"I'm not talking about necessarily going warp speed all of the time," O'Brien said. "I'm just saying we've got to get into a better rhythm, get the play in faster, get to the line of scrimmage faster, all of those things that go into tempo."

Fitzpatrick and company ran 56 plays on offense against Washington. How many they run and how quickly they do so will depend on what they see, according to the 10-year veteran.

"A lot of that is just what the situation calls for as well," Fitzpatrick said.

4. Facing an Old Friend: Few players in franchise history were as colorful as the One-Man Carnival Antonio Smith. From 2009 to 2013, the defensive end racked up 27 sacks in 79 starts, and forced seven fumbles. He also served as a captain a few of those seasons. And he was well-known for his Ninja Assassin sack celebration.

He signed with Oakland in the off-season, tallied three tackles and a tackle for loss against the Jets, and his former teammates all smiled this week when talking about the man with the self-given nickname "Tonestradamus".

"Antonio is a guy that you always love to be around," defensive end J.J. Watt said. "He's a great teammate, very loyal, humble guy, good guy, and it will be fun to see him again."

Watt won't square off against Smith, but left tackle Duane Brown likely will. The Pro Bowler said the years of practicing against Smith will make it a complex matchup.

"We both had a very good understanding of each other and what to expect in each other's tendencies," Brown said. "It's something that I'm going to have to prepare for. Conversations should be pretty good as well."

Smith spoke at length about the matchup and his former teammates in this article on, and threw in a Star Wars reference when it came to facing the Texans.

"All masters always worry about how the progress of their young Padawans is doing," Smith said. "I'm looking forward to see how they've reached masterhood since I left them."

5. Carr Starting: The Texans' defense gets to face a rookie quarterback in Derek Carr. His older brother David was the first pick in the 2002 NFL Draft and played in Houston through the 2006 season.

The younger Carr is now running the Oakland offense, and his debut at the Jets saw him get sacked twice, but complete 20-of-32 passes fro 151 yards. Watt, though, is impressed at the young signal caller's maturity.

"They have respect for him and they believe in him, so that says to me that he's done a great job preparing himself," Watt said. "He's done a great job going out to practice every day and executing and he's done a great job watching film and researching because it's not easy to play in this league."


This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content