A Line in the Sand

Patrick Storm on Dec. 3, 2018

The Texans season has made a dramatic turn for the better over the last 9 weeks! After starting 0-3, the Texans have ripped off nine straight wins. The offense has been crafted to unite their skill sets for victory. The defense is playing at a high level, especially now that most of their key players are healthy: they’ve forced twenty takeaways to date in the season (NFL.com).

Do they have what it takes to make a run deep into the playoffs? They do, but health could be the greatest danger to their chances. Over the past three weeks, the Texans have only carried seven active offensive linemen into games, and they've needed all seven of them due to injuries. Right Guard Zach Fulton is battling a hand injury and missed the last part of yesterday’s win over the Cleveland Browns. Left Tackle Julien Davenport missed one snap after a brief visit with the trainers to re-tape his ankle. Right Tackle Kendall Lamm missed the final quarter after being placed in the NFL’s Concussion Protocol.

I spoke with Lamm after the game. When I asked him if he thinks he will play this week against Indy, he said, “I’ll be fine.”

With injuries starting to nag at the offensive line starters, do the Texans look to carry eight guys on the game day roster, or continue to roll with seven? In my opinion, they need to carry that extra guy for a few weeks, just in case. The worst case scenario is having to throw a tight end in the guard position and shuffle the line around to keep rolling; there’s no sense in risking that scenario.

The Texans have Kyle Fuller, Roderick Johnson, Chad Slade, and David Steinmetz on the practice squad should they feel the need to promote someone to the active 53-man roster. I’d have the most confidence in Fuller or Slade, because of their experience over the previous years. Fuller started two games last season while playing in nine total, and Chad Slade starting in three games while appearing in five games (Pro Football Reference). For a quick plug-in lineman, familiarity with the offense would be a big plus.

This has to be a topic of discussion in O’Brien’s meetings this week, to help keep this team rolling. He has done a fantastic job of hiding weaknesses in the line by running the ball a lot; the result is a successful ground game. O’Brien has done enough to win nine games straight, the best streak in the NFL right now. Lamar Miller has been a beneficiary of this, eclipsing 100 yards rushing in four of the last six games (NFL.com). The line, while still a question moving forward, has improved week after week. Could injuries push them back to week one? Let’s hope not, and let’s hope they can continue to improve.

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