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Houston Texans

Five things to watch: Texans vs. Lions


Coming off their first win of the season, the Texans (1-4) are hosting a hungry Detroit Lions (0-5) team that barely lost its last game.

Here are five things to watch in the Oct. 19 game at Reliant Stadium.

1. Texans taking nothing for granted: The Lions are one of two winless teams in the NFL. Their rushing (171 ypg) and passing (250.6) defenses both rank 31st in the league. On offense, their running game ranks 30th with 77.8 yards per game. Still, the Texans are not taking the Lions lightly.

"We understand how they're going to come out and fight to get that first win," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "We're not going to take them lightly at all. I think about our game last year against Atlanta and coming out against those guys. They hadn't been doing well, but they found a way to get it done against us. So I think a lot of guys remember that last year and are going to take this very seriously."

The Lions barely lost their game last Sunday to the Vikings, falling 12-10 partly because of a last-second pass interference penalty.

"This is a team looking to fight and claw their way for their first win," center Chris Myers said. "They fought their hearts out last week and then came up short. They did everything in every way to win that game last week and fell a little bit short. But we have to treat every week the same. We have a good team coming in here."

The Lions' roster has a different look this week. The team traded Pro Bowl wide receiver Roy Williams to the Dallas Cowboys for first-, third- and sixth-round draft picks in 2009, and put quarterback Jon Kitna on injured reserve.

Dan Orlovsky, who threw for 150 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota, will start for Kitna. The Texans plan to keep the pressure on Orlovsky and hound the Lions' remaining star receiver, Calvin Johnson, who has caught 23 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns so far this season.

"We're going to try to confuse (Orlovsky), try to get after him a lot just because he's a guy that hasn't had a lot of reps in there," Ryans said. "When you have a fresh guy in like that, you have to try to throw different things at him and try to confuse him and try to make it as hard as possible for him."

{QUOTE}2. Dunta returns: After spending almost a year recovering from serious knee and hamstring injuries, Dunta Robinson will return to the field on Sunday. The cornerback, who was named a team captain for the game, looked better in each practice this week. Robinson made plays on the ball and hit people with his D-Rob swagger.

"We thought the times we were working him out, watching him work out as he was going through his rehab process, we felt like a few weeks ago that he was showing signs that he was ready to play," coach Gary Kubiak said. "But we didn't quite know until we got him in a competitive environment, put his pads on. If anything, it looks like he's raised his level."

Before suffering his injury last November, Robinson was considered, pound-for-pound, one of the hardest hitting corners in the league. Although he will be eased into the rotation and primarily used in nickel packages, Robinson plans to be back to his big-hitting ways from the get-go.

"I expected to come back, and I didn't expect things to go as smoothly as they did," Robinson said. "I didn't expect to feel as good as I did or cover the receivers as well as I did. All these things, I didn't expect. I'm glad to see things going well."

Robinson has been considered the heart and soul of the Texans' defense, and the players have been anxious for his return.

"Everything he's been through to make it back and be ready to go in this game, it's special with that injury he had," Kubiak said. "These players are really pulling for him. He's brought a lot of energy to our football team in practice this week."

3. Game plan #2: The Lions aren't a better team without Williams and Kitna, but the loss of both players forced the Texans to game plan for a different team than they saw on film.

The Lions entered the season planning to run the ball more, using a zone scheme similar to that of the Texans, to open up the field for Williams and Calvin Johnson.

With Williams gone, running backs Rudi Johnson and rookie Kevin Smith could get more carries. The Lions average only 77.8 yards per game on the ground, which ranks 30th in the league. Those numbers may not scare the Texans, but Houston may put eight men in the box to keep Johnson and Smith from getting anywhere.

Of course, Detroit will take its shots downfield to Calvin Johnson, but now the secondary won't have to split the field and worry about covering two threatening receivers.

"We definitely know that (Calvin) Johnson is going to be their guy," safety Will Demps said. "So now we know to kind of target him and take him out of his game and make sure that the other guys have to beat us."

Also in the game plan is keeping the pressure on Orlovsky, who struggled with his mobility against the Vikings. Orlovsky had only five second half appearances in his pro career before making his first start at Minnesota, and he showed his inexperience by running out of the back of the end zone for a safety.

"We'll try to throw a lot of different looks at him, just try to get to him," Robinson said. "That's the main thing. A young quarterback, you want to pressure the guy as much as you can, hit him as much as you can. That's what we'll try to do."

Mario Williams just might be licking his chops.

4. Another big day for 'Dre?: Andre Johnson set franchise records when he caught 10 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins last week.

He could be in for another big day against on Sunday. Detroit's passing defense gives up 250.6 yards per game. The Lions also are highly susceptible to getting beat on long-yardage plays.

The Lions lost to Minnesota in part because they allowed an 86-yard touchdown pass. Their secondary is a very veteran group that does not possess the speed to keep up with Johnson, who is averaging 97.6 yards per game.

'Dre just might be licking his chops, too.

5. Duane's day gets a little lighter: In his first five starts at left tackle, rookie Duane Brown has shown improvements in executing his assignments in the Texans' zone blocking scheme, but the road hasn't been easy.

In the season opener at Pittsburgh, he faced one of the most complicated 3-4 blitz packages in the league. In his next start, he had to fend off Tennessee's Kyle Vanden Bosch. After that, it was a physical Jacksonville defensive line, the Colts' Dwight Freeney and Miami's Joey Porter.

"He's (Brown) catching some different players," Kubiak said. "Freeney's a spinning top, so to speak, not as big a player. Porter's a real technician. He's been doing it a long time. He showed Duane a lot of different looks as far as how he wanted to rush the passer and what he wanted to do. He's seen a lot of good players and different type of players.

"He gets a little tired at times. Naturally, when you're playing a bunch of plays, some of his sets would get a little sloppy. It's just reassuring to him that he has to be automatic all the time in everything that he's doing.

"For the most part, he's doing a really good job. He just needs to continue to battle because it's never going to be easy when you're over there."

The battle may never be easy, but it could lighten up for Brown on Sunday. The rookie will face right end Dewayne White, a sixth-year pro with 17 tackles and three sacks this season. While White certainly has the ability to get to the quarterback, he could be a little less threatening that Porter or Freeney.

Regardless, Brown won't be taking the day off.

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