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VOL. 42 | NO. 37 | Friday, September 14, 2018

Texans at Titans: What to watch

By Terry McCormick

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Texans at Titans

Sunday, Sept. 16, Noon

TV: CBS (WTVF, Channel 5)

Radio: 104.5 FM

Regroup and assess the damage. The Titans lost tight end Delanie Walker to a gruesome leg ankle injury, lost quarterback Marcus Mariota to an elbow injury to his throwing arm and Taylor Lewan to a concussion. The Titans will have to try to replace Walker long term and monitor the situations on the other two this week as they prepare to face AFC South rival Houston.

Get some consistency going on offense. If Mariota can play, he probably isn’t going to be 100 percent. And if he can’t, the game plan will be tailored to backup Blaine Gabbert. Either way, the offense flashed at times Sunday, but mostly fluttered and sputtered. Maybe the preseason dreck is going to be the norm all season. The Titans might be forced to rely even more on the run game, led by Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry.

Have the defense be a strength. The defense came into the opener more banged up than the offense. Now it might be healthier as three key cogs went down. Coach Dean Pees’ group is probably going to have to carry the load for a while if the Titans are to snap back from the setbacks they were dealt in the opener.

Matchups to watch

DeShaun Watson vs. Titans defense. Watson shredded the Titans last year on his way to putting up 57 points. He wasn’t other-worldly as he was in his six games before tearing his ACL last year. But against the struggling Titans, he could find his rhythm in what suddenly has become a must-win game for both teams.

J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney & Co. vs. Titans offensive line. The Titans offensive line could be missing both tackles this week with Jack Conklin still recovering from January ACL surgery and Taylor Lewan in concussion protocol. Even if one or both are back this week, the Texans defensive front, which Mike Vrabel coached last year, presents an amazing challenge for the Titans O-line.