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Texans focusing on overcoming injuries as they face adversity late in season

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Injuries have become one of the main story lines for the Houston Texans of late.

Of course, the headliner right now is quarterback C.J. Stroud (concussion), which has forced backups Case Keenum and Davis Mills into the spotlight at the position the past two weeks.

Keenum led the Texans to a 19-16 overtime road victory against the Titans a week ago.

On Sunday, the duo rotated during the game against the Browns. Mills was able to lead the Texans to a pair of late touchdown drives in the loss.

"It definitely changes things a little bit but it's the NFL, like you said everyone's dealing with it, we've got to find a way to execute more consistently with all 11 guys on offense for sure," Michael Deiter said. "We can do that. It's definitely not an excuse. It's a little bit of adversity, which is fine. Just makes things a little harder but isn't the end of the world. We just have to find a way to win."

On the defensive side of the ball, the team missed rookie defensive end Will Anderson Jr. for a second-straight week.

Early in the game against the Browns, the Texans faced a slew of new injuries, all on the same side of the ball.

In a matter of minutes in the opening quarter, safety Jimmie Ward (quad), defensive end Jonathan Greenard (ankle) and cornerback Steven Nelson (foot) were deemed questionable to return due to injuries.

"We lost guys in this game," Texans Head Coach DeMeco Ryans said. "Injuries suck for everybody. It happens. But at the end of the day, there is still a game to be played. The game isn't going to stop because we have injuries. For us, and my mindset of how we attack, it is whoever steps in just do your job.

"Be where you're supposed to be. Everybody being where they're supposed to be and doing what they're supposed to do still have a shot there. No matter what injury happens, still expect guys to go out there and do their best."

In the end, Ward was ruled out, which opened up that side of the field for rotation in the secondary.

The Texans rotated safeties DeAndre Houston-Carson and Adrian Amos into that spot at times to try and fill-in, while Nelson was able to return at times and Derek Stingley Jr. held down the opposite side.

"It's tough but we've been dealing with injuries all year," Stingley, who missed six games earlier this season due to injury, said. "Whoever goes in they do the best that they can do." 

Houston-Carson and Stingley both reeled in an interception apiece during the game. It was Stingley's fifth pick of the season.

Up front, the Texans also lost their sack leader in Greenard for the remainder of the game after he exited with an ankle injury. 

"It's tough but it is just a next-man mentality," defensive end Derek Barnett said. "Just trying to go in and do our jobs. Make plays and not have a drop-off. That's the mindset is next man up when one of the guys go down."

Entering the game, Greenard led the Texans with 12.5 sacks this season and also chipped in 52 tackles this year.

As the Texans lost a couple more players to injury, they were able to get leading receiver Nico Collins back on Sunday after he missed last week and most of the Jets contest with a calf injury.

With the ups and downs of players getting hurt, coming back and injuries piling up at times, Collins said the ebbs and flows are all part of the game.

"It's hard, you don't want nobody to get hurt," Collins said. "It's part of football. Players are going to get hurt, going to get a little banged up. You've got to continue to go, next man up, next person available. Play all four quarters. You're going to have nicks and bruises, it's part of the game, especially this late in the season. But we have to keep going, can't dwell on a person going down."

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