Found August 20, 2013 on Fox Sports:
The 2013 NFL regular season is right around the corner. With that being said, it's time to launch our team previews. contributor Taylor Jones will answer important questions for every franchise. HOUSTON TEXANS 2012 Record: 12-4. Lost in the divisional round of the playoffs to New England. Which player is poised for a breakout season? Second-year player Whitney Mercilus is playing a position that has been very good to former Texans in the past. In 2011, this same outside linebacker position was held by Mario Williams for five games in which he totaled five sacks before suffering a season-ending injury. Brooks Reed stepped in and finished with six sacks while starting the final 11 games as a rookie. Last year, Connor Barwin and Mercilus split time at the position accounting for a combined nine sacks. Now with Barwin in Philadelphia, it will be Mercilus' starting job for the entire season. Mercilus is a pass rusher that has a knack for the big play. During his senior season at Illinois, he broke the Big 10 record for forced fumbles in a season -- a trend that has continued in the NFL. In just four career starts, he has forced two fumbles. The Texans defense was ninth in the NFL in takeaways in 2011, an already respectable ranking, but that is sure to improve with Mercilus rushing off the edge for a full 16 games. What must the team accomplish to consider the season a success? (Make the playoffs? Reach the Super Bowl?) When Peyton Manning and the Colts decided to part ways, everyone naturally in the Texans organization had to smile. The Texans had never won a game in Indianapolis and had a career record of 4-18 against the Colts with Manning as the quarterback. With him gone, it is supposed to be the Texans time to shine, but Andrew Luck isn't making that any easier. The Texans edged out the Colts by a game last season to win the division but were still unable to beat them in Lucas Oil Stadium. The window for the Texans is closing fast in the AFC South, so they need to take advantage of it while they can. For this year to be a success, the Texans must repeat as AFC South champions as well as finally get a win on the road against Indianapolis. What is the team's biggest asset? J.J. Watt was the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2012 and he could have easily been the league's Most Valuable Player if not for a freakishly strong season by Adrian Peterson. A defensive player hasn't won the NFL MVP since Lawrence Taylor in 1986. During that season, Taylor finished with 20.5 sacks, the same total that Watt turned in along with 16 passes deflected and four forced fumbles. Additionally, Watt was credited with 44.5 quarterback knockdowns, significantly more than Cameron Wake, who finished with the second most knockdowns. Watt is the most disruptive force in the NFL right now and what's even more impressive is that his position as a 5-technique in Wade Phillips' defense is really designed to assume blocks so that the outside linebacker can have a better chance of getting to the quarterback. Watt is redefining the position. Which rookie stands the best chance to succeed? Someone needs to play well opposite Andre Johnson, who has had the fifth most receiving yards in NFL history over his first 10 seasons. In those 10 seasons, Johnson has failed to reach the 1,000-yard receiving mark just three times -- once as a rookie and the two other seasons he missed a combined 10 games due to injury. Last year, Johnson's 1,598 receiving yards were a career best, but the bad news for the Texans is that no other receiver on the roster was within 1,000 yards of that total. Kevin Walter was the closest with just 518 yards. That leaves a lot of room for a rookie to come in and have an immediate impact and that appears to be exactly what Deandre Hopkins is doing. In his first game in a Texans uniform, Hopkins had four catches for 52 yards, including a circus catch in which he leaped over a defender to score a 34-yard touchdown. In a 2013 rookie class loaded with talent at the wide receiver position, Hopkins was the second receiver selected, behind Tavon Austin and before Cordarrelle Patterson. Hopkins was arguably the most consistent of the bunch and has similar upside to Roddy White in Atlanta. With Johnson still commanding a ton of attention, look for Hopkins to close the wide gap in production between the Houston receivers. What is the team's biggest addition/loss from the previous season? If healthy, Ed Reed will be a solid signing for a team that finished 16th in passing defense. Yes, Reed will make eye-popping plays, but it is actually Brian Cushing's return that will be the most important. The 2009 Rookie of the Year missed all but five games last season after tearing his ACL. The Texans were undefeated in those five games and only gave up an impressive 14.6 points per game during that span. In the final 13 games, including the two playoff games, the Texans gave up more than 24 points per game without Cushing. Cushing has led the team in tackles in two of his four seasons, while he missed significant time in the two seasons he wasn't the leading tackler. In 2011, his last full healthy season, his 114 tackles were 37 more than the next best tackler on the team. That is a lot of productivity to be sitting on the sideline nursing a knee injury. The Texans defense was good without him, but they are dominant with him.

Texans hope Arian Foster, Ed Reed are healthy for season opener

Coaches look to the preseason to do three things– fine tune what works, figure out what doesn’t and find out who can fill the holes on the roster. They also hope that one thing will not happen—injuries, but for the Houston Texans the aches and pains have been piling up 

Texans hold on to edge Dolphins 24-17 in Cushing’s return

  Texans ILB Brian Cushing is back, and ready to make up for lost time. After opening the preseason with a win over the Vikings last week the Houston Texans played the Miami Dolphins in week 2. This would be a good test for the Texans offensively and defensively with many of their starters playing this week. RB Arian Foster was still out with soreness in his back, but other than...

Foster to miss Monday practice

Houston Texans running back Arian Foster will not be at practice on Monday because of lower back soreness, coach Gary Kubiak said. The running back situation is a little worrisome for the Texans as Foster, who rushed for 1,424 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, is still being hampered by lower back soreness. ''The team met with the doctors that have been treating Arian...

Arian Foster Received Back Injections and Could Miss Week One

Arian Foster has been on the shelf so long, Doomsday Preppers are stocking up on him for the Armageddon.  The calf strain was one thing, but this back issue is a whole other problem.  Kubiak has come out and reveled that Foster received injections before the preseason game with the Vikings.   Kubiak: “They tell me these injections take time.  We are taking our time.”   The...

Antonio Smith Suspended

Per @AdamSchefter, the league will suspend Antonio Smith for both preseason games left and 1 regular season game. #Texans — Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) August 20, 2013   Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith has been suspended according to Adam Schefter. He will be suspended for the remainder of the preseason and the open of the regular season on Monday night against...

SOTT Post Game with Garrett Graham

Houston Texans tight end Garrett Graham took some time out to talk about the preseason win over the Miami Dolphins.   You can follow Patrick on Twitter.  He is the Editor of State of the Texans.    

Texans' Ed Reed may be ahead of schedule

Since the Houston Texans signed safety Ed Reed earlier this offseason, it seems like all they've received is bad news regarding the veteran and his ailing hip. While that's mostly been the case, the Texans did receive a bit of good news yesterday, when a specialist told the team that Reed could be ahead of schedule in his rehab from hip surgery, according to Deepi Sidhu...

Texans DE Antonio Smith Suspended 1 Game For Swinging Helmet At Richie Incognito

CBS 3 in Houston is reporting that Texans defensive end Antonio Smith has been suspended for the first game of the regular season after swinging at, and hitting Dolphins lineman Richie Incognito with his own helmet. Smith will miss Houston’s remaining two preseason games also. The two men already have history, as Smith was fined $21,000 last season for kicking Incognito, a...

2013 Houston Texans Preview

I look at this Houston Texans team and think, why can't they make the Super Bowl? The biggest knock on them is that they don't have a top-tier quarterback in Matt Schaub. But if last year's Super Bowl proved anything, it's that you don't need one to get there (Houston actually has some similarities with Baltimore and San Francisco given the team's solid defense...

The Rundown: Miami Edition

The Houston Texans wrapped up their second preseason game with a 24-17 win over the Miami Dolphins. The stats and record did not count, but the plays on the field did and they will help shape the roster as the preseason moves on. There were plenty of storylines and none bigger than the backup quarterback situation. Some familiar faces showed up for the Texans and there were some...

Houston Texans Fan Picks Nose, Almost Eats Booger

This Houston Texans fan was caught by cameras picking her nose during a preseason game against the Miami Dolphins.  After the nose pick, the fan makes a move towards her lip/mouth like she was about to eat the booger. Doesn’t that dude see that out of his peripheral? I can’t type anymore about this because I think I’m about to vomit. Gross. The post Houston Texans Fan Picks...

Antonio Smith Nearly Decapitates Richie Incognito

You heard it correctly. Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith can be seen here ripping off the helmet of Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito and swinging it at his head. The NFL moved swiftly, suspending Smith for the final two preseason games and the first regular season game. The helmet seems to just have missed Incognito’s face, making contact with his pads just below...

NFL Suspensions: They Continue to Be a Joke

The NFL announced Tuesday that Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith is suspended for the remainder of the preseason and the first regular season game for the incident during Saturday’s preseason game.On a pass rush, Smith ripped off Dolphins’ offensive guard Richie Incognito’s helmet and then hit him in the face with it.ESPN originally reported that Smith would only be suspended...
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