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Minus Shaun Cody, NT Earl Mitchell to make first start


With Shaun Cody out because of a ribs injury, the Texans will use a combination of Earl Mitchell, Jared Crick and Terrell McClain at nose tackle on Sunday night at Chicago.

Mitchell, a third-year pro who has rotated with Cody since 2010, will make his first-career start. Crick, a rookie defensive end from Nebraska, will likely be next in line for reps.

"We've worked Crick some at nose guard," defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. "He's played end the whole time. He's played well, but he hadn't played a lot of plays, so he'll get more time. Earl was splitting time. He'll just have to play more, and then we'll see what McClain can do for us."

Cody has started 52 of 56 games since joining the Texans in 2009. He has played in 50 consecutive games, tied for the sixth-longest streak among NFL defensive linemen.

"I'd just like to make sure that there is no drop-off when I'm out there on the field," said Mitchell, a Houston native from North Shore High School. "It's just a bigger responsibility and just making sure that I understand my role and understand that I'm taking care of business when I'm out there. When I have an opportunity to make plays, I definitely like to take advantage of them."

Crick, a fourth-round draft pick, has five tackles and two passes defensed in the last three games.

"Crick's really fun to watch right now practice… to watch his personality come out a little bit," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Friday. "He's got a lot of confidence in what he's doing. He does not act like a rookie anymore on the practice field. He's going to be important to what we do in the second half of the season."

The Texans signed McClain last week. A third-round draft pick out of South Florida in 2011, he started 12 games last season for the Carolina Panthers but was cut in September.

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