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O-line rallies without Duane Brown

The Texans offensive line was back at work on the practice field without their veteran leader Duane Brown.

"First and foremost, Duane being out there, he will be missed," Brandon Brooks said. "But the biggest thing about him was he was always that leader. I wouldn't say necessarily, everybody has their own deal scheme wise and what's going on, but whenever times would get tough or we weren't running the ball like we were supposed to or protecting like we were supposed to, he was that guy that was like, 'Let's go, let's pick it up. Watch me lead by example.' So that's where he'll be missed the most."

On Wednesday, while the team prepared for Saturday's playoff game against Kansas City, Brown was undergoing season-ending surgery. The surgery was successful, according to head coach Bill O'Brien.
Brooks, who spoke to the media Wednesday, said he would try to do his best filling in for his teammate, a very media-friendly spokesperson for the offensive line.

"As an O-line, each step we take forward is definitely dedicated to him," Brooks said.

Now the offensive line must move forward without the longest-tenured Texan on the field. It's a tight-knit position group, one that has weekly dinners and a group text that circulates often. When Chris Clark arrived in Houston, he noticed it right away.

"The brotherhood that we've gained since I've been here has been tremendous," Clark said. "We do a lot together so having that camaraderie is very much needed."

Clark, a seventh-year tackle acquired Aug. 31 in a trade with Denver, stepped in when Brown injured his quadriceps and left Sunday's game. With injuries early in the season, Clark also started at left tackle (Weeks 2 and 3) and had two starts at right tackle (Weeks 6 and 7).

Now he's likely the next-man up in the biggest game of the year. Clark has seen action in seven postseason games with four starts during his career with the Broncos. His five seasons in Denver (2010-14) will also certainly be an advantage against an AFC West team that he's seen several times before.

"Playing against them so much, he has a lot of experience year in and year out, playing them twice," Brooks said. "He came to us Monday when he came in and kind of gave us his speech and things to look out for. We kind of rallied around it, took it all in."

The 2015 AFC South Champion Houston Texans (9-7) will host the Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at NRG Stadium on Saturday, Jan. 9. Kickoff for the AFC Wild Card Game is set for 3:35 p.m. CT on ESPN/ABC.

Texans players celebrated winning the AFC South Championship.

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