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Five things to watch: Texans at Titans


Here are five key storylines to watch when the Texans take on Tennessee in Week 2 at LP Field in Nashville. Kickoff is at noon CT on Sunday.

Getting physical: To win in Week 2, the Texans know they'll have to play a more physical game than they did against the Jets.

"They're one of the most physical teams in the AFC, definitely in our division," tight end Owen Daniels said. "I think we proved last year that we can go toe-to-toe with them. So we get our chance this week, and we're excited about it."

The Texans beat the Titans in a 13-12 slugfest at Reliant Stadium in Week 15 last season. They controlled the clock for 36 minutes and won the turnover battle 2-1 in that game.

Running back Chris Brown, who had three carries for 15 yards in Week 1, played with the Titans for five seasons from 2003-07.

"They definitely have a mentality: They're a physical team," Brown said. "They go out there and give you everything they've got."

All eyes on Slaton:No running back in the league gained 100 yards against the Titans last season except for Steve Slaton, and he did it twice. In both games, Slaton broke free for a big gain – a 50-yard run at Tennessee, a 34-yard run at home – on what initially appeared to be a dead play.

The Titans allowed only 36 rushing yards to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 and will be intent on tackling better and finishing plays in their third try against Slaton.

"He's that type of back where he's explosive," Titans defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said in a conference call on Wednesday. "You have to get 11 hats at the ball at all times because he's shifty, explosive and he's strong."

Slaton had 24 carries for 100 yards in the Texans' 13-12 victory at Reliant Stadium in December. That followed his 116-yard, one-touchdown effort on the road in Week 3, Slaton's first-career start.

"Steve has played well down there," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "He got a big run that was probably going to be a two yard loss if it wasn't just for great effort, him coming out and making a big play. But we have to be committed enough to give him a chance to make those plays. He's obviously very important to what we're doing."

No more Haynesworth:With All-Pro defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, the Titans were able to generate consistent pressure with their front four without having to bring constant pressure from linebackers or safeties.

Haynesworth, a 6-4, 350-pound thorn in the Texans' side for years, is now playing for the Washington Redskins. But the Titans are still stout up front without him. They replaced Haynesworth in the starting lineup with Jason Jones, a 2008 second-round draft pick who had five sacks as a rookie. Jones had one of the Titans' four sacks against Pittsburgh, all of which were accounted for by the defensive line.

In addition to Jones and starter Tony Brown, the Titans have defensive tackles Jovan Haye, Kevin Vickerson and rookie Sen'Derrick Marks to go along with their talented defensive ends.

"I think they're playing better (without Haynesworth)," Kubiak said. "I'm looking at an eight-guy rotation that is playing as good as any group I've seen. I think (Titans defensive line coach Jim) Washburn does as good a job as there is in the National Football League with the defensive line. The team I watched against Pittsburgh was very good."

Avoiding 0-2:Both teams are looking to avoid an 0-2 start this week. The Texans started 0-4 last year, burying themselves in a hole from which they couldn't emerge even with an 8-4 finish. The Titans will play three of their next four games on the road at the Jets, Jaguars and Patriots, and their one home game in that span is against the Colts.

By game time, the Titans will have had 10 days to stew over their 13-10 overtime loss to the Steelers. They also haven't forgotten last year's loss at Reliant Stadium, a game in which Andre Johnson torched Tennessee for 207 yards.

"We've got a game on Sunday where two teams are looking for a win, so we're going to have go in there and play our butts off," Johnson said. "We know they're a physical team and they're going to have to come after us, so we have to get after them."

Ins and outs:Safety Eugene Wilson (knee) is probable for Sunday's game after fully participating in practice all week. Receiver Kevin Walter (hamstring), cornerback Jacques Reeves (fibula) and fullback Vonta Leach (knee) are listed as questionable.
Leach did not practice until Friday, and even if he plays, Kubiak said that rookie James Casey would play "a great deal" in the game after taking most of the fullback reps in practice this week.

Defensive tackle Shaun Cody (knee), cornerback Antwaun Molden (quad) and receiver André Davis (concussion) were ruled out by Kubiak on Friday. Veteran Jeff Zgonina is the likely bet to start in Cody's place. The Texans also will welcome back defensive tackle DelJuan Robinson, who missed Week 1 with a calf injury.

Titans tight end Bo Scaife, who led Tennessee with 56 receptions last season, is doubtful this week with a knee injury suffered in Week 1 against the Steelers.

For the full official injury report, click **here**.

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