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O'Brien: Xavier Su'a-Filo a much-improved player

When training camp was underway, left guard Xavier Su'a-Filo had the most experience of the Texans offensive linemen when it came to Bill O'Brien's offense. Through nine games, he's shown even more progress.

"He's one of the more improved guys on our team," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "Very good run blocker, comes off the ball and strikes you. Then in the passing game, he's really worked hard on his pass protection and it's gotten better. Sometimes he's singled up against some really good defensive tackles and he's held his own, and that's not easy."

Su'a-Filo, now in his third season, is the one constant on an offensive line that has dealt with injuries at every position. Veteran right tackle Derek Newton was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Oct. 26. Greg Mancz has started at center for rookie Nick Martin, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in training camp. Left tackle Duane Brown returned to the starting lineup in Week 5. The combination of Brown and Su'a-Filo have been an effective one on the left side of the offensive line. In the last four games, the Texans have rushed for an average of 146 yards per game.

"I think he's taken a big step," Brown said. "I think he's playing with a lot more confidence. I think he's a lot more physical this year. It's been a beauty to watch and a beauty to be a part of playing next to him. Especially in the run game, he's blowing guys off of the ball. Like I said, just playing with more confidence. It's been great to see."

The (6-3) Texans will next head to Mexico City to face the (7-2) Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT from Estadio Azteca. The game will be broadcast on ESPN and SportsRadio 610.

Check out the best shot from Wednesdays practice as the Texans prepare for the Raiders on Monday Night Football.

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