The Texans offensive line has been a work in progress each week. With injuries at guard and tackle, linemen have been shuffled around to fill in at different spots. It's been a challenge, one that position coach Mike Devlin has adapted to each week.
"First of all, real proud of how they've all adjusted," Devlin said Tuesday. "It's a unique situation, something I've never had to deal with before really. We've had a bunch of injuries and we've had to move and manipulate to try to get the best five out there that we can on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, it's been every week."
Brandon Brooks never thought he'd playing left guard instead of right guard. Derek Newton has played every position but center, lining up at left guard at Carolina, and right guard at Jacksonville and Miami. Guard Xavier Su'a-Filo been inactive for all but three games and Oday Aboushi was dealing with a toe injury for several weeks.
Even last week against Tennessee, the line started with Aboushi at left guard and Duane Brown, Ben Jones, Brandon Brooks, and Derek Newton at left tackle, center, right guard, and right tackle, respectively. After halftime, Brown didn't re-enter the game. Derek Newton took over at left tackle, Chris Clark anchored the other side at right tackle.
"In order to move multiple positions - again, this is my first run with this situation in all the times I've ever played or coached - but the fact that they can, a lot of them are in the second year in the system so they've known a little bit more, so it transfers over," Devlin said. "It's the ability to change your technique from one side to the other. It's been, knock on wood, the fact that Ben Jones has been kind of the constant, that always helps to have the center."
It's not just injuries, though. Under some circumstances, offensive linemen are moved around to take advantage of matchups, Devlin adds.
"Your tackles obviously block the best rushers that the defense has, Cincinnati coming up, those guys," Devlin said. "But then, you move them inside, injuries or whatever else, I'm saying, 'Hey Newt, we're going to put you against their best (Ndamukong) Suh or whatever.' Most defenses are three-techniques and they're ends and all that. Everyone's got good players. We were really trying to match him up in these circumstances against their best player."
The Texans head into a bye in Week 9 and face Cincinnati in a primetime Monday night matchup on Nov. 16.