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Takeaways Welcome Sight For Texans In Preseason Opener

Houston was last in forced turnovers in 2020

Forcing more turnovers is 2021 a definite focus for the Houston Texas under new defensive coordinator Lovie Smith. After finishing dead last in that category a season ago, any improvement would be a welcome sight.

The early returns were promising, as the Texans came up with three takeaways in a 26-7 win to open the preseason Saturday night at Green Bay.

“Lovie’s defense is built on basically creating turnovers, getting turnovers,” first-year Houston coach David Culley said. “We were able to get a few of those tonight. We were close to getting a few more.”

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The three against the Packers would have accounted for a third of the turnovers Houston tallied all of last season. The Texans had just nine in 2020 – the only team in the league in single digits. Houston finished last year minus-9 in turnovers (18-9), which was 28th in the league.

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Defensive lineman Jaleel Johnson recovered two fumbles, the first caused on a strip sack by linebacker Jonathan Greenard. Cornerback Tremon Smith picked off a pass late in the fourth quarter.

“That’s the goal every game,” linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill said. “We have a standard of trying to get at least three. I think we got three tonight, so it’s a great night.”

In addition to getting the ball back for the offense, the Texans defense allowed only one score, 242 total yards (49 rushing, 193 passing) and 13 first downs. The Packers were 3-for-11 on third-down attempts and 0-for-2 on fourth down. Houston compiled 2.0 sacks and two quarterback hits as a team.

“Overall defensively, I think they played team defense tonight,” Culley said.

Yes, it’s the preseason and starters were out on both sides, but just the appearance of getting to the football and making plays is a positive for Smith’s unit. The Texans have no where to go but in when it comes to causing turnovers in 2021.

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