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Rookie Will Anderson Jr. Playing Crucial Role in Texans Defensive Success

The Texans may have more work to do before finding their footing offensively, but thanks to rookie edge rusher Will Anderson Jr., their defense sits in a much more comfortable spot despite the 25-9 defeat to Baltimore.
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Twenty-two days ago, the Houston Texans sat in a similar position as they do following Week 1 of the regular season: 

Mulling over a hard-fought matchup that ended in a loss. The first instance under rookie coach DeMeco Ryans was in the preseason against the Miami Dolphins when Houston fell 28-3 in true offensive-struggle fashion. 

That night, Ryans' squad officially became ready for his first year, with the loss completing the metaphorical "checklist" of items that are naturally completed during a coach's inaugural season. The difference between that night and where the Texans currently sit, however, is simply the timing. 

Houston has lost before, but now, it's started the regular season off on the wrong foot. 

That doesn't mean there weren't any positives, however.

Will Anderson Jr.

Houston rookie Will Anderson Jr. had himself a night against the Ravens. Baltimore's recently re-signed quarterback Lamar Jackson attempted to do his thing, and while he was moderately successful — his team won, after all — he wasn't a determining factor for the Ravens. 

By the end of the game, Jackson only tallied 169 yards and one interception, failing to find the end zone through the air. Anderson accounted for two quarterback hits and a sack en route to a six-tackle outing. He also became the Texans' first rookie to record a sack in a season opener — setting the tone for his season early.

Anderson's talent may have come as a surprise to those outside of the Texans' organization, but for Ryans and company, his dominance wasn't anything new. 

"Will has been who he's been all training camp [and preseason]," Ryans said of the rookie. "He continues to cause havoc in the backfield and got to the quarterback a couple of times." 

All in all, the Ravens successfully overpowered their AFC rival. Houston never found its footing offensively and just couldn't keep up, especially in the second half. 

The Texans still have ample work to do before truly making a statement, but while they would've liked to do so in Week 1, they still have 16 chances, and Ryans knows it.

"It's one game at a time," Ryans said. "This is no point in hanging our head or being sad about it. You have to make plays to win in this league." 

But hey, even if Houston as a whole didn't make the statement it had hoped for, Anderson Jr. sure did. And he'll continue to play a large role in his teams' success moving forward, especially under a coach with a defense-first mindset.