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Haynesworth the bully in this street fight


Albert Haynesworth (No. 92) is a lot to handle, but the Texans look forward to the challenge of stopping the Pro Bowl defensive tackle.

The Texans' offensive line is getting ready for a street fight on Sunday, and Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth might be the biggest bully they'll face.

The Titans haven't been too kind to the Texans in their series. The Titans have won seven in a row from the Texans and have an 11-2 overall record against the team that replaced them in Houston.

"I think going into a game like this you've got to get ready for a street fight and that's how it's going to be," right tackle Eric Winston said. "Tennessee plays as physical as any, like Pittsburgh, Baltimore. Just be ready to be sore on Monday and be ready to keep swinging for four quarters.

"We know it and we've got to go in with the idea if we get hit in the mouth in the first round, don't worry, there's plenty more rounds in this thing."

Winston isn't insinuating the Titans play beyond the rules. He just knows from experience it's going to be a rugged day at the office and especially because of the presence of Haynesworth, an all-pro the past two seasons. This year, he's had 70 tackles and 8.5 sacks, plus 19 quarterback pressures and four forced fumbles.

"It's not a dirty thing," Winston said. "They're not dirty players at all. That's just the mindset they bring and that's the way they look at it. They keep swinging and swinging. That's what we've got to do. Someone is going to fall, but you have to be there at the end and keep swinging."

Haynesworth was too much homework for rookie starting left tackle Duane Brown in their first meeting in September. Brown hopes he's learned something about facing the super-sized Haynesworth.

"I feel a little more prepared," Brown said. "He's definitely the strongest player I've faced this season. He's just a great athlete. A guy that size, he can move extremely well for a person of his stature. He can transition his speed and power very quickly. It's hard to block guys like that, but you know what you're going to get."

Brown has been studying harder for the return matchup.

{QUOTE}"From watching film, he's played at defensive end more than the first time we played them, I guess just to give the offense another look," Brown said. "I've had to study him more than usual. I've just got to be ready. He's going to bring power. You have to be able to sit in there and match up with him man-to-man."

While Haynesworth might be the focal point of the Titans' defensive line, he's not the only problem.

"It all starts with their front four and the pressure they're able to apply and their ability to stop the run and not blitz so much," quarterback Matt Schaub said. "They force teams to throw the football and that's when their secondary makes the interceptions and big plays. We just have to stay balanced and committed to what we want to do."

The Titans beat the Texans 31-12 in September and picked off three of Schaub's passes to help their cause. Schaub hopes for better this time around.

"We didn't convert opportunities down there," Schaub said. "We didn't make plays we are making now. Some of those tough plays, we're making them now, converting in the red zone, all those things, And our defense is playing tremendously well right now."

Still, there his Haynesworth, who's made 54 tackles and provided two sacks in his career against the Texans.

"He's a guy who takes up a lot of space in the middle," Schaub said. "He demands two people and when they have the front four they have, it's hard to give too much attention to one guy because there's other guys left on islands on their side of the line. As a group, they're very tough to handle."

The Texans were lurching from the gate with an 0-4 star when they lost to the Titans early in the season. This time, they have won three in a row for a 6-7 record and a chance for a winning season or at least to match last year's 8-8 finish.

"We feel a lot better," Brown said. "We had the potential to beat them the first game. We just weren't finishing games then. We've done better at that now and started to jell more. We know what we're capable of. We just have things we need to polish like turnovers and scoring in the red zone. If we can do that, we have a good chance of beating this team."

It will be a game of strength on strength. The Texans rank No. 3 in the NFL in total offense, averaging 381.5 yards per game. Tennessee's defense is third overall, allowing 273.8 yards per game. The Titans have 35 sacks this season.

"They've found a way to get those players to play exactly how they wanted in that system," Winston said. "They always act like they know where they're supposed to be and they're usually there. We're going to have to displace them, move them around a little bit to get some running lanes open and hold up on passing plays and give Schaub time. We're going to have to do some special work out there to get it done."

Fullback Vonta Leach, also knows as "The Hammer" and "The Coke Machine," expects to have a few collisions with Haynesworth and the Titans' defensive front.

"He's a high-motor guy, he's intense," Leach said of Haynesworth. "We've got to have our hands full with him. They are a good defensive team. Their whole team thrives off their defense.

"Definitely, in a street fight he's the biggest bully out there. Definitely, we need to contain him."

EDITOR'S NOTE:Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky. Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro sports.

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