Multiple Key Starters Set To Miss Jags Game | Impact & Analysis
The Texans will be without multiple key players including Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil.
At least four Texans starters won’t play against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
Texans safety Jalen Pitre will miss his second consecutive game due to a bruised lung.
The team captain is slated to return to practice next week in advance of a potential return to the lineup for a home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pitre is a team captain who led the Texans with 147 tackles and five interceptions as a rookie last season. The Texans are exercising caution with the Stafford graduate, a second-round draft pick and former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year at Baylor.
“Yeah, encouraging with Jalen, feeling really good,” Texans coach DeMeco Ryans said. “Jalen is in good spirits. It’s great having him out. It’s great energy in the meetings and practice. Jalen has been a great leader for us, even though he hasn’t been out there physically on gameday, but he’s been leading throughout the week.
“That’s why Jalen is a special young man, and I’m happy to coach him because he brings everything that you want from a leader to the team. So, encouraged with him and encouraged with his process and on his way back. I think he will be good to go here pretty soon.”
Pitre is among four starters ruled out for this game, including linebacker Denzel Perryman. Perryman is dealing with hand and wrist injuries and isn’t practicing. There is a chance he could play in the next week or so with a cast on his hand.
Texans cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. is out for six to eight weeks with a hamstring injury and will be placed on injured reserve, per a league source.
“Derek has done a great job,” Ryans said. “He’s done a great job all year for us.”
Stingley’s primary replacement is veteran corner Shaq Griffin, who will start against his former team.
“I expect all of our guys, whoever is out there, we just expect our guys to do their job,” Ryans said. “Play with passion, play with intensity and play together.”
Texans nickel Tavierre Thomas could return in the next week or two from a broken hand that required surgery, per a league source. He will be replaced by Grayland Arnold at nickel with Alex Austin practicing at nickel this week, too.
Pro Bowl left offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis after missing Sunday’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts with a knee injury. He has been limited for two consecutive days of practice. He is listed as questionable on the injury report. If Tunsil can’t go, Josh Jones would play left tackle again. The Texans are expecting Tunsil to play.
“It was good seeing Laremy back out at practice today,” Ryans said earlier this week. “We’ll see how he continues to progress throughout the week.”
On Friday, Ryans was noncommittal on Tunsil.
“We’ll see how Laremy does,” the first-year coach said. He went through practice this week, but we’ll see how it goes.”
Having Tunsil back is a major boost to the Texans’ offense, especially rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud who has been an NFL-high sacked 11 times and hit 19 times overall. The Texans struggled in pass protection without Tunsil against the Colts on Sunday as Stroud was sacked six times and hit 10 times while passing for 384 yards. And Tunsil, the highest paid offensive lineman in the game again after negotiating a three-year, $75 million contract extension this offseason, was the highest-rated pass protector in the league last season.
Plus, veteran safety Jimmie Ward practiced for the second day in a row since injuring his hip in the preseason against the New Orleans Saints and missing the first two games of the season.
The following players were upgraded to full participation: wide receiver Tank Dell (thigh), offensive tackle George Fant (ankle, knee), defensive end Jonathan Greenard (knee), quarterback C.J. Stroud (right shoulder), who indicated he feels fine and wide receiver Robert Woods.
“I feel good,” Stroud said. “Football is a physical sport and that’s what I signed up for, but my body is fine. I’ll be all right.”
The Texans are managing Stroud’s throws in practice as he has been dealing with soreness over the past week.
“Anytime you have a starting quarterback that’s going to play all year, you always have an arm management program, and it’s kind of what best fits the individual,” Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik said. “And it may be some days he’s limited on throws.
“It may be some days he’s not limited on throws, but he’s limited on other stuff that’s not team period-related, and that is kind of a week to week thing. And it’s an individual thing as we go through the year, so he’s always going to be on an arm maintenance program. Every quarterback is. It’s just what we’re doing that specific week.”
Stroud had an AC joint sprain as a redshirt freshman against the University of Minnesota. He played one week later.
“I did a lot of the same things I kind of did for this injury that I had now, just to get back feeling right,” Stroud said. “When you’re playing, your adrenaline usually takes away the pain, so that helped a lot. I feel almost 100 percent.”
Ryans attributed the extremely high amount of injuries to the normal rigors of the game.
The Texans have placed wide receiver Noah Brown (groin), offensive guard Kenyon Green (torn labrum), fullback Troy Hairston (back), offensive tackle Tytus Howard (hand surgery), punter Cameron Johnston (groin), wide receiver Jesse Matthews (torn anterior cruciate ligament), center Scott Quessenberry (torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments), defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway (calf), offensive tackle D.J. Scaife (knee), center Juice Scruggs (hamstring) and offensive tackle Kilian Zierer (ankle) on injured reserve.
“Playing football for a long time, coaching for a while, there are a lot of things that happen on the field that you just can’t control, and that’s the nature of the game that we play football,”Ryans said. So, to try to pinpoint not getting us injured, that’s hard to do. You can’t justify how things happen. It’s football. Guys are making violent cuts, moving, reacting every play, so you can’t determine movements, that’s the name of our game: unpredicted movements.
“So, guys are stronger, faster now, and guys unfortunately get hurt, and that’s not new to the NFL. It’s happened since the game began. It’s a physical game, it’s a violent game, and it’s unfortunate that guys get injured at times. If we could control injuries, I promise you all across the NFL, there would not be an injury if anyone’s controlling it, but as you see, all over the NFL, it happens. And the main thing is, everybody needs to focus on that person and what they’re going through with those injuries. How hard is it on that guy?”
(Photo Courtesy: Houston Texans)
htown.football is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.