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Houston Texans

Notes and Quotes: Hellos and goodbyes to familiar faces

So, actually, he sang himself happy birthday in the meeting room because the rookies have to sing it. He’s a rookie too, so he sang himself happy birthday. WR Nico Collins on how the team celebrated Davis Mills' birthday this week

The Houston Texans travel to Arizona to take on the 6-0 Cardinals. The Texans will face J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins for the first time as opponents as Houston looks to get back to the win column after losing five in a row. David Johnson faces his former team for the first time, but the three players are just a few of the connections in the Week 7 game.

Here are the top stories and quotes from the week:

The Texans made a fairly long list of roster moves this week. Among the most notable, releasing 10-year veteran Whitney Mercilus.

"Well, it was a mutual thing," Head Coach David Culley said. "That position he plays, we've got as much depth there as any position on our team. We've got some young guys there. Ross (Blacklock) is coming back, and basically, it became being able to see those guys, and those guys have done well. Those young guys are starting to play, and it gives us a chance to be able to look at them and also give him a chance to be able to continue on and play and find a team that fits him and move on with his career."

Along with Mercilus' release, the Texans activated DL Ross Blacklock from the Reserve/COVID-19 list after he missed three games.

"Our two starters are Jacob Martin and Jonathan Greenard, who's playing excellent football, I might add, right now," Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith said. "Of course, other guys that play, Jordan Jenkins and Chuck (Charles) Omenihu."

Smith said that Greenard is both "a legitimate rusher on the outside" as well as has "good size to play the run." The second-year DL had two sacks against the Colts last week but still left "at least one sack" on the field, according to Smith.

Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly will have to prepare against J.J. Watt for the first time in his coaching career. Kelly saw first-hand how Watt can be disruptive to the game.

"You still see all the things he did when he was here," Kelly said. "He's playing at a high level. They are moving him around. He's playing inside. He's playing outside. Looks like he's kind of picking his spots to the particular matchup he may want, but he's playing at a high level. So, it's going to be a concern, obviously. We got to do a great job making sure we know where he is and taking care of him and not let him wreck the game."

Rookie DL Roy Lopez returns to his home state of Arizona, where he has watched QB Kyler Murray. On Sunday, he'll face him in person.

"Being from Arizona, I've seen Kyler play," Lopez said. "He's a great quarterback. He's mobile. He's got a great arm. Obviously, he's a ballplayer. Defensively we just got to keep that in mind and play our keys. Every single down is a new down. Just keep attacking."

With Tyrod Taylor still on the Reserve/Injured list, Davis Mills will get his fifth start on Sunday. Mills has not thrown a touchdown pass in the last two road games but discussed what he learned after watching his film against the Colts last week.

"Patience is one," Mills said. "One of them, two is not having to call shot plays to take shots down the field. I feel like there are organic we can find it within our offense to make big plays, try to take advantage of those. As my job kind of lead the offense the best I can and make sure we're in the right spot to go out there and play against the defense."

The Texans also released return specialist Andre Roberts. Special Teams Coordinator Frank Ross listed a number of players that could step up in the return game.

"Just coming into the season, it's quote on quote, 'Nice to have depth in the returner room,' guys that will fill in those roles," Special Teams Coordinator Frank Ross said. "Desmond (King II) could be a guy. Tremon (Smith) could be a guy. There are other players on our roster who have done it. Danny Amendola, Scottie Phillips was a returner here a year ago. So, there are players here that we do have to use in those roles."

King returned kicks in the preseason and was named Second-Team All-Pro Punt Returner in 2018. He has also been playing outside cornerback this year and discussed the challenges of containing Hopkins.

"Just making sure that you are playing him, playing the ball," King said. "He's a receiver that when the ball is thrown his way, nine times out of 10, he's going to come down with it. As long as we are in the area and competing all the way until the ball is thrown to the ball is down and whistle blown. That's all that we can do."

During his rookie campaign in 2018, DB Tremon Smith fielded kickoff returns for 886 yards (26.8 average) while playing for the Kansas City Chiefs. He describes his style as "aggressive, just fast and physical."

DB Terrence Brooks was placed on Injured Reserve after spending Sunday night in Indianapolis for medical observation. Brooks suffered a lung contusion on the first touchdown play against the Colts.

The Texans added depth to their offensive line by signing Jimmy Morrissey as Justin Britt works his way back from a knee issue.

"Yeah, he's coming in, and you can tell he's diligent, works hard, and it's important to him," Kelly said. "He's been in here late working with Koogs (Robert Kugler) and Camp (James Campen), making sure he's getting caught up. At certain times like this, you're learning plays more so than learning the playbook but making sure that he's putting himself in a position to be able to go out there and function if needed. So, he's done a great job. Looking forward to continuing to work with him."

The Texans will play the Cardinals on Sunday at State Farm Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3:25 p.m. CT on CBS and SportsRadio 610.

The next time you can see the Texans at NRG Stadium will be on October 31 as they host the Los Angeles Rams in Week 8. Kickoff is set for noon CT. Click here for tickets.

Check out the best photos from the Houston Texans practice on Week 7.

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