Rookie Jacoby Jones makes his regular season debut on Sunday.
It's a tale of firsts for the Texans as they open up the season with the Liberty White Kickoff at Reliant Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 9 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The noise:It's the first game of the season, the first home game at Reliant Stadium and arguably the first time the Texans have entered a season with such high expectations. With the players and fans decked out in all white for the Liberty White Kickoff on Sunday, the crowd noise could be at an all-time high.
"Our atmosphere against
Kubiak hopes the crowd can match its raucous intensity from the Cowboys game.
"It was awesome," Kubiak said. "Our stadium was electric. It definitely helped us from a defensive standpoint. I'm looking forward to it being the same way here (against
The rookie:After a dazzling preseason, rookie Jacoby Jones willstep into the regular season spotlight for the first time in his career.
"When he walks out of the huddle this week, Ty Law will be staring at him," Kubiak said. "It's the real deal, but I know the kid's ready to go. I love his demeanor in meetings. He loves football and has a lot of fun here everyday, so I'm expecting him to keep making plays."
Jones scored at least one touchdown in each of the final three preseason games and should continue to be a factor as both a punt returner and wide receiver. He will push starter Kevin Walter for playing time opposite Andre Johnson and see the field regularly in three wide receiver sets.
The ever-confident Jones was unfazed by the adjustment from
College to the NFL, and now he's anxious to make the leap from the preseason to the regular season.
"I'm ready to see what it feels like," Jones said. "I take every game the same way. It's football to me. Coach (Kubiak) told me to bring my game up to 105 instead of 98, so I've got to step up some more."
The quarterback:Quarterback Matt Schaub will make his first start with the Texans after an impressive preseason in which he compiled a 113.4 quarterback rating while going 24-33 for 242 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He showed poise and decisiveness in the pocket, and has demonstrated that same calmness leading up to this Sunday.
"Hopefully it just comes second nature," Schaub said. "I've been playing the game for a while now, so I prepared in
Atlanta just as if I was going to play. The only difference now is I'll be out there the first play, so I just have to get myself prepared as best as I can this week, and come Sunday just let it come natural."
Kubiak will be satisfied if Schaub can keep performing how he has been thus far.
"I just want him to come out and play the way he's played in the preseason," Kubiak said. "He's been very composed and very smart with the ball. He's handled our guys very well. He calms them down with the way he plays. We just want him to continue to be his steady self."
The running back: It's the first time since 1999 that running back Ahman Green will start for a team other than the Green Bay Packers. And unlike Jones and Schaub, Green won't be seeing anything new on Sunday.
"(It's) business as usual, really," the nine-year veteran said. "There's nothing that's really changed except the team and the city. It's the same game of football the opening day of the season. There's nothing that's changed in the past 10 seasons for me."
Green was limited to 17 preseason carries as the Texans' coaches kept him fresh for the regular season, but fans did catch a glimpse of the four-time Pro Bowler's skill set on his tackle-breaking 46-yard dash against the Cowboys. He's excited to get things going against the Chiefs.
"I'm ready," he said. "We got through the hard stuff, which was training camp, and getting beat up and getting your body acclimated to football season. So now we're ready to get this thing started."
The defense:This will be the first test of 2007 for the Texans' defense and its strong young nucleus of DeMeco Ryans, Mario Williams and Dunta Robinson. The focus all week has been on how the Texans will defend against Larry Johnson, who had an NFL-record 416 carries last season and torched the Texans for 211 rushing yards in his last visit to Reliant Stadium.
Ryans is up to the task.
"It's the first regular season game," he said. "I'm looking forward to just getting the season started going against a good team, the Chiefs. They are going to come in running the ball. Our job is to go out and stop the run if we expect to win. It's going to be a challenge for us, but we're definitely looking forward to it."
Kubiak said it will be a test of his defense's grit.
"We're going to find out where we're at, because this team's going to run the ball if we put 10 in the box or nine in the box," he said. "They're still going to run the ball. That's what they're made of. That's a big challenge for our defense."