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Previewing the Jets’ opposition: Houston Texans

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New York Jets v Houston Texans Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite an 0-3 start the Texans hold a two-game lead in the AFC South. However, they head to town looking to bounce back after the Colts snapped their impressive nine-game winning streak.

Quarterbacks

Making his return from an ACL tear that cut short a spectacular rookie season, Deshaun Watson has had an excellent year, as he’s posted a quarterback rating of over 100. Watson is also a threat with his legs, having racked up over 400 yards and two scores on the ground.

The back-up is veteran Brandon Weeden, although Joe Webb - listed as the number three - is also usually active as he can also provide cover at wide receiver.

Offensive Line

The Texans’ plans for their offensive line were thrown into chaos when opening day starter Seantrel Henderson broke his ankle in week one. Starting left tackle Julie’n Henderson - a mid round pick from last season - initially moved to right tackle to replace him, but then eventually moved back to the left.

Davenport has really struggled, as he’s been called for 15 penalties and given up 10 sacks and over 50 pressures in pass protection.

Otherwise, this group has struggled in the running game as a unit, but they’ve done a good job of limiting interior pressure.

Guards Senio Kelemete and Zach Fulton were added via free agency in the offseason, while former second-round pick Nick Martin anchors the line. Fulton was out last week and Greg Mancz - who has made four starts this year - was in at right guard in his place. Fulton is listed as questionable for Saturday.

Rookie Martinas Rankin has made three starts and played snaps at three different positions on the line. However, he’s struggled so far.

Running Backs

Lamar Miller has had a good year as the lead back, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. He needs 91 yards for the third thousand yard season of his career.

Reserve Alfred Blue hasn’t had the same kind of impact, as he’s only averaging 3.5 yards per carry. Third-stringer D’Onta Foreman hasn’t even been active yet this year.

Pass catchers

DeAndre Hopkins continues to establish himself as a candidate to be considered the top wide receiver in the NFL. He has 84 catches for over 1100 and nine touchdowns so far this season.

With Will Fuller already on injured reserve, the next most productive receiver on the team has been rookie Keke Coutee, who has 28 catches and is effective out of the slot. However, he’s listed as questionable for Saturday’s game.

The Texans responded to the Fuller injury by trading for veteran DeMaryius Thomas, but he’s still finding his feet in their offense.

Webb filled in last week, but DeAndre Carter is a candidate to get more work if Coutee is out.

Veteran Ryan Griffin is listed as the starter at tight end, but rookies Jordan Thomas and Jordan Akins have also got plenty of work. They have each caught at least 15 passes on the year.

Defensive Line

As ever, the Texans’ defense centers around JJ Watt who, despite being overshadowed by Aaron Donald’s exploits with the Rams, is having another sensational season with 12.5 sacks and five forced fumbles. While the Texans play a base 3-4 defense, they’ll usually put Watt on the edge of a four man line in passing situations.

The Texans have filled out their defensive line with a lot of low-priced talent. The other two starters are nose tackle Brandon Dunn and defensive end DJ Reader, who are both good against the run.

Off the bench, Angelo Blackson and Christian Covington get plenty of rotational reps. Covington has contributed 3.5 sacks so far this year.

Linebackers

Outside linebackers Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney produce plenty of pressure off the edge. Clowney has seven sacks but also 10 penalties including eight neutral zone infractions. Rookie Duke Ejiofor hasn’t made much of an impact in reserve.

The inside linebackers are Benardrick McKinney and Zach Cunningham who are both solid against the run. Dylan Cole is the primary back-up.

Defensive Backs

The Texans have been better against the run than the pass but have an opportunistic secondary. In total, they have intercepted 13 passes and returned three for touchdowns. TY Hilton torched the secondary for 199 yards in the loss last week, but he did the damage against a variety of defenders rather than just picking on one match-up.

Rookie safety Justin Reid leads the team with three interceptions. The other starter at safety is the impressive Tyrann Matheiu, who was an off season target for the Jets. Matheiu has also registered three sacks.

At cornerback, Jonathan Joseph is now in his eighth season with the Texans and Kareem Jackson is in his ninth, but the pair are still doing a good job in coverage. Jackson is tied with Matheiu for the team lead in tackles, as he’s also contributed a lot in run support.

Veteran reserves Aaron Colvin and Shareece Wright get plenty of reps at cornerback while Mike Tyson is the third safety.

Special Teams

Houston’s kicker is Kaimi Fairbairn, who has missed five field goals this year but has been perfect from inside 40 yards. He’s made four game winners so far this year.

Their punter is Trevor Daniel, who has one of the league’s lowest averages, but is one of just a handful of punters to have put more than half of his punts inside the 20.

In the return game, the Texans recently cut Tyler Ervin, so Carter has taken over that role, while in coverage, reserve linebacker Peter Kalambayi leads in special teams tackles.