Ryan Mallett is ready for his first career start in the NFL.
So is his head coach.
"I'm excited for him," Bill O'Brien said on Monday. "I think this is his opportunity to go out there and lead this team, and he's excited."
Mallett spent the bye weekend studying film and lifting weights at NRG Stadium. It was a working vacation of sorts, as the fourth-year pro will start a non-preseason game for the first time since the 2012 Sugar Bowl. In that contest, he was under center for Arkansas against Ohio State. This time though, he'll face another team from Ohio in the Cleveland Browns, who enter the game with an AFC North-best 6-3 record.
"He's going to have to do a great job this week of preparing on the practice field and the film room," O'Brien said. "And then when the game starts, how does it go then?"
He'll face a defense that showcases one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL in Joe Haden. Mallett said he doesn't know what exactly the Browns will do to try and stop him, but that he'll be ready.
"We've got to prepared for everything," Mallett said. "Whatever they throw at us, we're going to have to communicate and get handled."
Wide receiver Andre Johnson spoke Monday about Mallett's first start, and was quick to point out that the former Razorback is not going alone.
"We all have to play a part in it," Johnson said. "It's not just him. Whoever is at quarterback, it doesn't matter. We all have to go out and do our jobs."
Multiple times this autumn O'Brien has said Mallett's been meticulous in his preparation. His teammates have noticed. Even the ones on the other side of the ball.
"Coming in, being a backup, you never know when it's going to be your call to come in and be the starter, so you have to prepare like you're the starter at all times," cornerback Johnathan Joseph said. "I think he's done a great job the first 9-10 weeks of the season of doing that, preparing himself each and every week as if he's going to be the guy to get the call to start."
Mallett and the Texans have Tuesday off and will return to practice on Wednedsay. They'll leave for Cleveland on Saturday, and kickoff is at noon CT on Sunday.