Bright futures for rookies Pitre, Harris, Hansen | Daily Brew

Around the time of year that NFL rookies start to hit the dreaded "rookie wall," a trio of Houston Texans defensive players are hitting their stride.

"We see them getting better," Head Coach Lovie Smith said. "They've been getting better, but still those young player mistakes have continued to happen. But you have to go through the process a little bit too and get to the end of the game and see how they handle it there at the end when the pressure is really on."

During Saturday's 19-14 win at Tennessee, three defensive rookies came up with takeaways: LB Christian Harris, LB Jake Hansen and DB Jalen Pitre.

Pitre came up with the Hail Mary interception, his fourth pick of the season, to seal the Texans' victory. The Texans starting safety led the team in tackles for the fifth time this season with nine tackles (seven solo). Pitre is now one-of-three rookies to have tallied at least 125 tackles and four interceptions during their rookie season, a stat dating back to 1991.

The rookie linebackers each recorded career firsts: first interception for Harris and first forced fumble for Hansen. Early in the fourth quarter, Hansen forced a fumble on RB Derrick Henry, recovered by Texans DL Jonathan Greenard. Later in the game, Harris picked off Titans QB Malik Willis, adding a 21-yard return.

Harris, who missed the first six games while on IR, has since started the last nine games, recording double-digit tackles in Week 15 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Hansen, an undrafted free agent, made the 53-man roster but was inactive for the first four games of the season. Hansen recorded his first career fumble recovery just a week earlier against the Chiefs.

"The pressure was on, and the rookie Jake (Hansen) got the ball out," Smith said. "The pressure's on, and the rookie Christian Harris. That was a tough (interception). Especially when you can't feel your fingers to be able to catch that. If he had caught it cleanly, he might have scored with it. Then of course (Jalen) Pitre. That's the growth of them making plays to finish out a game. Again, all of their futures are bright."

This marked the third time in franchise history two rookies, Pitre and Harris, each posted an interception in same game. The last time was Week 5 of the 2010 season vs. the New York Giants when CB Kareem Jackson and CB Sherrick McManis each recorded a pick. In 2009, LB Brian Cushing and Brice McCain recorded interceptions in Week 12 vs. Indianapolis.

The Texans will host the Jacksonville Jaguars on Jan. 1. Kickoff from NRG Stadium is set for noon CT on CBS and SportsRadio 610.

Tap to browse tickets for the Houston Texans final home game vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars here.

Browse photos from the Texans, Titans Week 16 matchup.

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