Texans to Watch: Ravens Edition
Patrick D. Starr
The Houston Texans are pushing for 3-0 and this time they are traveling to Baltimore. Not only are they facing the Ravens, but there will be the Ray Lewis induction into the Ring of Honor ceremony to go along with the game. There will be plenty of emotion tied into this game and the Texans will be heading into an AFC rival's territory.
The Texans will be put to the test with a new look Ravens after losing familiar faces and one of those is our players to watch.
Texans to Watch
Like he would not be on the watch list, especially for this game in Baltimore. Reed was very close to going last Sunday against Tennessee and him working the way he did during pregame was a good sight to see. He moved with speed and worked up a good sweat like he was going to play. There was plenty of talk from those surprised that Reed did not go in week two, but it now feels like it is the right time for the return of Reed to the football field. Even if he gets on the field, expect his snaps to be limited and working primarily as the deep safety in dime situations. He might surprise by starting right away, but having him playing the deep middle will be a sight to see. Reed's presence on the field will put opposing quarterbacks on notice and only do good things for this defense moving forward.
This is only relevant if Duane Brown can't go on Sunday with his turf toe issue. With that said, Harris will become a big storyline on Sunday. He will have the task of controlling Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil off the edge and keeping them from getting to Matt Schaub. Harris is the Texans' swing tackle this season and worked at left tackle in OTAs when Brown was out with a foot issue. He is the veteran presence that the Texans want in their back up offensive tackle, but there should still be some reason for concern with a struggling offensive line in the early part of the season.
Off to a slow start during the 2013 season, Smith has the task of controlling one of the best in Haloti Ngata. Smith has to get back on track in a hurry because of the up and down play of the offensive line. Smith has struggled some in pass protection and plenty in run blocking. He is getting to the right spots but not finishing blocks is some of his early issues on the field. Maybe the knee scope at the beginning of camp could have set him back with no work during the preseason, but there is no time to rest at this point for Smith.
This is a group effort at the moment with Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus being nothing more than edge setters in the run game. Neither has shown a real edge presence in the passing game and for a team that needs a consistent pass rush, the first two games have been anything but that. Pressuring Joe Flacco only leads to good things which the Texans have learned in the past. Getting the two outside linebackers going this week would be a positive sight to see.
No one has been talking about what Martin has been doing in the return game and heading into week three of the season he is 4th in the league in kickoff returns. Martin being the primary returner has helped his confidence and it is starting to show on the offensive end for him. He made a big catch and run late in the 4th quarter against the Titans to set up the game winning field goal attempt. Seeing him turn into a "potential" threat on the field will only help this team and offense moving forward.
The talk of the team last week, but for all the wrong reasons. Bullock has struggled, to say the least, on putting the ball through the up rights. He is currently 1 for 5 with misses from 46, 50, 50, 51. The only kick he hit was the game winner against the Chargers which was 41 yards with no time left on the clock. The big positive that Bullock has brought to the team is his kickoff capability and in 9 kickoffs he has produced 8 touchbacks. The Texans will give Bullock some more time to get his act together. After sitting out his entire rookie season, this is in essence his rookie campaign. Bullock has all of the physical skills to be a successful piece of the Texans future, but the start of his career has been anything but good.