The Houston Texans are primed and ready to kick off the 2013 NFL season against the San Diego Chargers. The Texans are looking for a win and are 2-3 all time on Monday Night Football.
The Texans still have to prove that when the National lights come on they can produce. They have struggled some in the past.
Here are some things for your Gameday Prep against the Chargers.
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- The eyes will all be on third year safety Shiloh Keo on the back half of the defense. There will be plenty of negativity surrounding Keo and what he is as a player for the defense, but the game still has to be played. Keo will get the first shot to produce on Monday night and as long as he remembers his limitations he could be primed for a good game. Expect plenty of D.J. Swearinger in dime situations, but Keo and Danieal Manning should get the majority of the work on defense.
- It appears Wade Smith will be a full go on Monday after coming back from a knee scope at the beginning of training camp. He will be spelled by second year offensive lineman Ben Jones during the game, but having Smith back is a big boost for some struggles from the position during the preseason. With David Quessenberry landing on the injured reserve with a foot injury, the depth at the guard position has gotten thin for the start of the season.
- Once again, the Texans will be without the injured (concussion) Darryl Sharpton. The injury bug never escapes Sharpton. He has been dealing with this concussion since the third preseason game but he was labeled sick before the real reason came out. The Texans should dress rookie Justin Tuggle to give them four active inside linebackers for the game.
- The special teams will be under a watchful eye the entire season but they will need a big game tomorrow. With Keshawn Martin taking over the return duties for both kicks and punts, it would be a good sight to see some strong returns. The coverage game on kick offs is the biggest phase of special teams to watch as they have struggled with not giving up big returns.
- Outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus has some work to do and him missing the entire preseason does not help on what he needed to accomplish during the preseason. Hurt on the first day of pads in training camp, Mercilus has had zero work in game situations. This is for a player who needed the most work on the defense, especially after the starting position was handed to him. Mercilus has little film to go on and there is a big question mark on what he can bring to the team. He was clearly not ready for the NFL game last season and struggled in run support. He did show his speed and led all outside linebackers with 6 sacks in 2012. He has the ability to rush the passer but he has plenty to prove in a short amount of time.
- Pass rush will be key to the Texans’ defense this season, and this is not involving J.J. Watt. Watt will get his in the pass rush but finding two or more three options to heat up the quarterback will be key for the Texans to return to their old 2011 form. It is just not about sacks but moving the quarterback off his spot and causing hurries and hits. Sacks will be nice but ultimately getting the quarterback uncomfortable will be key.
- The Texans will have some new faces looking to make an impression against the Chargers. They have a rookie class mixed and matched with drafted and rookie free agents. DeAndre Hopkins, D.J. Swearinger, Sam Montgomery, Ryan Griffin, Cierre Wood, Willie Jefferson, Justin Tuggle and A.J. Bouye should all be suiting out for the game.
Also, the Texans added some free agents who will be making their Texans debut with Greg Jones, Shane Lechler and Joe Mays being this group. Kicker Randy Bullock will be making his NFL debut against the Chargers as he missed his rookie season with a groin injury.
You can follow Patrick on Twitter. He is the Editor of State of the Texans.