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Texans defense preparing for Mariota

The Texans defense is familiar with mobile quarterbacks like Marcus Mariota.

After all, they spent the entire offseason practicing against one in starter Deshaun Watson. But, is that good preparation for facing the run-pass option in games?

“To a degree,” defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel said. “The thing that we don’t have to do is we don’t have to game plan for Deshaun because it’s practice. If we run up the field past him and he pulls it down and runs for a couple of yards, it doesn’t hurt as much. During the regular season, a mobile quarterback, you have to plan for him. So, we have to have a good plan to handle (Marcus) Mariota.”

On Sunday, Houston will face Mariota for just the fourth time in franchise history. In their last meeting, Mariota was 15-of-23 for 150 yards and one touchdown but also rushed for 23 yards and a score in the Titans’ Week 13 win at home.

“He’s probably the fastest back in the league,” Jadeveon Clowney said. “The guy’s fast. You’ve got to keep him in the pocket, make him throw out of the pocket. You don’t want him running out. We don’t want him running around because he can hurt us with his legs.”

In the Titans regular season opener at Miami, Mariota suffered an elbow injury and left in the third quarter. He was replaced by backup Blaine Gabbert who was 11-of-22 for 117 yards in Tennessee’s 27-20 loss to the Dolphins. Mariota returned to practice this week and is likely to start in Week 2.

“He does a lot of great things for his team,” Tyrann Mathieu said. “They’re going to try to get him in space, get the ball out of his hands quick, make his reads easy so we just got to play a sound game, not only up front but on the back end especially with him using his legs to kind of create extra time.”

The Texans will travel to Nashville to face the Titans on Sunday. Kickoff is set for 12 noon CT on CBS and SportsRadio 610.

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