The 2018 Texans offensive line was assembled with four new starters in the lineup, the exception being center Nick Martin.
On Sunday, the o-line was shuffled again as both tackle positions were occupied by different starters. Second year-offensive lineman Julién Davenport moved over to the right side as rookie Martinas Rankin was called up to fill in at left tackle when Seantrel Henderson suffered a season-ending ankle injury against the Patriots.
Through two games, the offensive line has had its challenges but also shown some signs of growth:
-Rankin holding it down at LT
Rankin missed the entire offseason with an injury and came off PUP just five days before his preseason debut against the Los Angeles Rams. He spent the offseason and most of training camp working on his knowledge of the game while rehabbing. Since his return, his play has been solid.
"There were times yesterday where he really did a good job," head coach Bill O'Brien said Monday. "He was blocking on an island, blocking (Derrick) Morgan, (Brian) Orakpo and he really did a nice job. Then there's other times where it's got to get better, and he knows that. He's a really mature guy. It's hard to play left tackle in this league. He'll continue to improve. He's a very hardworking guy."
-Run Blocking has been outstanding
While the Texans find themselves with an 0-2 record after two close losses, the offensive line has paved the way for the most rushing yards in the NFL (315) with second-best average gain per play (5.3). Lamar Miller, Alfred Blue and Deshaun Watson have rushed collectively for over 100 yards each week.
-Pass protection needs work
Watson was sacked four times in Sunday's loss and pressured multiple times. He also completed 22-of-32 passes for 310 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a 107.6 passer rating.
"It's definitely true that the run blocking, obviously, has been better," O'Brien said. "I think that there's somethings we can do schematically to help the pass blocking, but we have to improve in the pass blocking area, not just one-on-one, but some of the different things teams are doing against us. Our guys will work hard. We've got a good group up there and they'll work hard to get better. But, that's definitely an area we have to improve, pass protection."**_
-Blitz pickup needs to happen faster_**
Deshaun Watson faced multiple blitzes in Sunday's 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans. In that situation, Watson sees blitz and then is supposed to communicate to center Nick Martin.
"He works with Nick on that to really shore it up quickly and help ID so they're on the same page, but it's Deshaun who gets us to the people that he wants to get to," O'Brien said. "Blitz was, three or four times, definitely was a little bit of an issue. I think that's another area where we really have to improve because we have answers for that. We've got to really coach it better because the answers were there if you really study the film, the answers were there, but we've got to get these guys to recognize it faster."
-Clean up the penalties
The offensive line had its share of holding and false starts, but overall the Texans drew the yellow flags too many times in Sunday's loss. Houston racked up 11 penalties for 88 yards on offense, defense and special teams combined.
"We have to eliminate those things," O'Brien said. "We have to coach it better, we've got to practice better. That's probably the biggest thing that we can need to improve on, that we have too many mistakes in all three phases. It starts with me, like it always does. We're going to work hard starting today to try to get that better."
Check out photos of the Houston Texans taking on the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium for Week 2 of the NFL season.