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Houston Texans

Texans vs. Colts | 5 Things to Watch


The Texans (0-1) host Indianapolis (0-1) in a Week 2 AFC South matchup. Houston won the final meeting of the season between the two franchises in Week 18 last year, after opening 2022 with a tie at home in Week 1 against the Colts. Here are five things to watch when they kick off at noon CT inside NRG Stadium.

1) Play faster – Head Coach DeMeco Ryans and the rest of the staff and players have all echoed the same message this week: the tempo needs to quicken on offense. Houston wasn't happy with the pace in last Sunday's loss at Baltimore, and Ryans is confident that tempo will improve and lead to better results for the Texans.

"The biggest improvement that I would like to see from the offense is their tempo, just in and out of the huddle," Ryans said. "Just getting the play calls, getting in and out of the huddle faster and just playing faster. That's what I expect to see this week."

Quarterback C.J. Stroud explained how "practicing better" in that area could go a long way towards playing quicker on Sundays.

"I have to control what I can control and be as best as I can getting guys in and out of the huddle," Stroud said. "We're going to learn from that, so just practicing better and getting better on my part is what I've got to do."

The Texans mustered just a trio of Ka'imi Fairbairn field goals in the 25-9 defeat to the Ravens. Picking up the pace offensively would help the Texans finish with 6's instead of 3's, which is what wide receiver Robert Woods emphasized as an area in which the Texans must improve.

"Finish in the end zone," Woods said. "Obviously, we want to have good drives and longer possessions, but we had 2 or 3 field goals last week. We have to finish with touchdowns and not field goals."

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2) Protection up front – The Texans offensive line on paper in May looked a lot different than it did going into Week 1, and it was even more different by the time the team left the field at M&T Bank Stadium following Sunday's loss.

Because of a knee injury, left tackle Laremy Tunsil didn't practice on Wednesday or Friday, and was limited on Thursday. Rookie Jarrett Patterson started his first NFL game at Baltimore. Right tackle George Fant exited Sunday's game with a shoulder injury, but was a full participant in Thursday's practice.

The line is banged up, but offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik remains confident in the protection up front.

"We've got a pretty good feel of who is going to be where and what we're going to do and how we're going to do it," Slowik said. "Structurally, it helps what we're going against."

Stroud was sacked five times versus the Ravens, and hit another five times as well.

3) Volume up – The Texans open up the Ryans Era at NRG Stadium, and the head coach is hoping for the type of noise his defenses had behind them when he last suited up for Houston. Ryans captained the 2011 Texans to an AFC South Division title and a Wild Card win at home over the Bengals that season. The crowds at home games that season were some of the loudest in franchise history, and he's hoping for something similar in the future, as soon as this Sunday.

"When it comes to playing at home, you want it to be a true home field advantage," Ryans said. "I remember playing here when we were rolling in 2011 – our defense was rolling – and it was a credit to the fans and them being here, being in the stands, being loud, especially on third down, causing havoc and confusing for our opponent. We need that on this Sunday."

A slew of players are new to the Texans, and many of them are curious what it's like playing in this venue with a full-throated crowd behind them. Tight end Dalton Schultz joined the club as a free agent this offseason, and wants it loud when the defense is on the field.

"I'm looking forward to seeing what the energy is like in NRG," Schultz said. "We had a preseason game here, but your home opener has a little bit more juice to it. So I'm excited to see how the energy is on game day."

4) Affect Anthony Richardson – Like the Texans, Indianapolis is also led by a rookie quarterback. Anthony Richardson was the fourth overall pick in this year's NFL Draft, and he tossed a touchdown pass and ran for another score in last week's loss to the Jaguars. He's an impressive talent, and Texans defensive coordinator Matt Burke compared Richardson to a quarterback in Buffalo.

"He's a big body," Burke said. "Josh Allen kind of has some of those characteristics too. And then obviously all of the arm talent. He can make all those throws. He's got a cannon so it's definitely a challenge for us this week."

Richardson ran 10 times against Jacksonville and picked up 40 yards and completed 24-of-37 passes for 223 yards, with a touchdown and a pick.

"He's huge," defensive end Will Anderson, Jr. said of Richardson. "He's almost the same size as us. It'll be a great challenge for us up front. Containing him, keeping him in the pocket and not letting him run all over the place, it's going to be really fun."

5) Eyes on Anderson – Anderson's debut was an impressive one. The rookie logged a sack, a tackle for loss, and credited him with six total pressures and six stops. It was a completely unsurprising performance, according to Burke, who said Anderson's practiced and prepared that way during the week since he arrived in early May. But Sunday against Richardson will be a test similar to the one he faced last week with Lamar Jackson in Baltimore.

"You have to be really precise in your rushes," Burke said. "You can be a step off and they're going to make you pay or you're going to get out of your gap just a nudge or not quite as deep as you need to be in your rush and all of a sudden, something's out of the gate, so I think it's always a battle to be perfect in the precision and how we're rushing, especially quarterbacks that can beat you with their legs, so I think there's some growth there from that point of view."

For Anderson, it was nice getting off to a good start as a pro, but he admitted there's still work that needs to be done.

"We got to clean up some mistakes up front," Anderson said. "We just got to keep rushing together, keep listening to the game plan that the coaches have for us. I think we did a really good job of trying to execute the game plan. Like I said, just a little more detail, precision and things like that."

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