Skip to main content

Run game to be tested


The Texans' run offense has been getting stuffed with Ahman Green sidelined. Jacksonville's defense has been mangling running games all season.

"It doesn't sound like a good mix," Texans running back Samkon Gado said.

The Texans hope to get Green back in action Sunday when they must try to jump-start their running game against the Jaguars' monster defensive tackles John Henderson and Marcus Stroud, among the NFL's biggest and strongest tandems.

Green's return couldn't come at a more critical time.

"This is an excellent opportunity for us to turn that around and run the ball against a very good defense," Gado said. "If we can do that, our chances look very good."

The Texans prospered on the ground early this season until Green injured his knee. Gado and Ron Dayne have been trying to pick up the slack, but they haven't found the right combination or rhythm yet.

The Texans managed only 74 rushing yards in Sunday's 22-19 victory over Miami and they don't expect continued success with that formula.

"We got away with winning and not running the ball well last week," Gado said. "It's not going to happen this week. If we want to have any chance of winning the game, somehow we're going to need to get the running game going."

Henderson has 23 sacks in his five-year NFL career and Stroud has 21.5.

{QUOTE}The Jaguars held Kansas City to 10 rushing yards on Sunday.

"Stroud and Henderson and those guys down there, those guys are massive. I don't think it's just their run defense," Gado said. "Their defense is very stout to see what they did to (Chiefs running back) Larry Johnson.

"If you don't bring your A-game, I mean, we're not going to do anything. Just because we beat them twice last year, that means absolutely squat this year."

Left tackle Ephraim Salaam played for the Jaguars before signing with the Texans. He'll see some old friends when the two teams meet. He doesn't look forward to the game.

"You better hide your lunch because they'll eat it," Salaam said.

The Texans are hopeful that Green will return against the Jaguars. Even Green's return won't guarantee a big rushing day for the Texans.

Jacksonville's run defense ranks 15th in the NFL, allowing 105.3 yards per game. The Texans are 25th in run offense, gaining 85.8 yards per game.

"Every day is a test day for me," Green said. "I can't wait to get back out there. It's (knee) well enough to play. It feels good and pretty much I'll take it one day at a time."

Green described his time on the sidelines as torture.

"It's going to mean a lot (to play)," he said. "I'll be able to go out and help the team, whether I'm running the ball, catching the ball, picking up the blitz. Just being on the field will give our offense a little more respect."

Green said he expects to be full speed when he gets back on the field.

"You knock off the rust in practice because if I don't, Jacksonville will," he said. "They are young and experienced and hard-hitting. Stroud and Henderson make it hard for guys to run the ball against them. That's what we've got to get ready for."

The Texans own a 6-4 series lead over the Jaguars, including winning both games last season. This time, the Jaguars have a hard defense to challenge.

Their defense leads the NFL with 41 points allowed. They've won three games in a row after a season-opening loss to Tennessee.

"They play with a mean streak," guard Fred Weary said. "They have a lot of swagger about them. Each year, that's all you hear is how good their defensive front is and how well they play.

"They've got two big guys in there for one reason and that's to stop the run. They've been real productive at doing that and we've got our work cut out for us this week."

Guard Chester Pitts has been going against the Jaguars since his rookie season. It doesn't get any easier.

"Our run game is something we have to focus on," Pitts said. "It's tough to have to go and play against such a good defense. We have to find a way to focus on it and get something going against it.

"Their defense has played extremely well. The opening game they lost to Tennessee, after that, whatever was going on they found a way to get it right and it's been that way the last three weeks."

Losing twice to the Texans last year won't make the Jaguars any more hospitable.

"That's going to be on their minds," Weary said. "That's something they carried all through the offseason and they are prepared to come back and do it to us like we did it to them last year."

Green's return will be big for the Texans' offense.

"It's going to be great to have a leader like him back in there and hopefully we can get that running game kick started," tight end Owen Daniels said. "Everybody needs to pick up their game in blocking and reading the runs the right way."

Dayne and Green made a good 1-2 punch early in the season. Dayne is looking forward to a return to that combination.

"It's good," he said. "Anytime we can get anyone back to help us is a good situation. You come in and wear them down with his speed and he's physical too and then I come in more just being physical. It wears on a defense."

If Dayne is upset by criticism of the running game, he doesn't show it.

Besides, he has a point.

"You can't get upset with the questions, especially when we're not running the ball that well," Dayne said. "So, we've just got to keep working on it and keep getting better."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky. Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro sports.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content