Andre Davis (Getty Images)
In the Texans matchup against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, you expect to hear the names of Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, and Mario Williams called early and often, as well as that of Chris Johnson, Albert Haynesworth, and Kyle Vanden Bosch. BattleRedNation.com is going to now focus on a few players who could make an impact that may not be so high on everyone's radar.
When the Texans are on offense:
Most teams are extremely concerned about Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson and rightfully so, but opposite Johnson are Kevin Walter and Andre Davis. Walter is a great possession guy, and Davis is a deep threat in his own right.
Rookie left tackle Duane Brown will have his hands full with Titans defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, one of the NFL’s most underrated ends. If Brown can keep Vanden Bosch away from Matt Schaub, the Texans should have some success through the air.
The entire interior of the Texans offensive line will have to be on their game as Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth is off to a dominant start again in 2008. Chris Myers, Mike Brisiel, and Chester Pitts must win in the trenches.
Everyone is now aware of the type of impact Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth can make when he's on the football field. It's obvious that Haynesworth will draw plenty of attention, and that will leave a great opportunity for fellow defensive tackle Tony Brown to be a playmaker on Sunday.
Cornerback Cortland Finnegan is a player that has legitimately been flying under the radar for a few years now. Finnegan's fine play has made the Titans transition smoothly from the Pacman Jones era and although Finnegan may not be quite as talented as Jones, he's much more dependable, and has explosive return skills in his own right.
When the Titans are on offense:
The Titans offensive line are the true stars on the offensive side of the ball, although they likely won't be featured in many commercials. Tennessee's line opens up holes for the running game, despite not much of a threat through the air, and they are one of the best units in all of football. Tennessee's line dominated Jacksonville in the season opener, then Cincinnati in week two, and they will be looking to employ a similar strategy on Sunday.
When Tennessee is forced to throw, wide receiver Justin Gage is Tennessee’s top threat at wideout. Gage tied for the team lead last season with 55 receptions, and already has seven catches. Also look for Lavelle Hawkins to get open. Hawkins doesn't have the pure deep speed of former college teammate DeShawn Jackson, but he is a more consistent receiver, and could make a difference as he’s expected to play in his first game.
Titans tight end Bo Scaife was supposed to be replaced by free agent acquisition Alge Crumpler, but Scaife is currently leading the team in receiving yards. Scaife isn’t flashy, but he’s a solid blocker and has good hands.
Mario Williams is the man on the Texans defensive line, but someone else needs to step up both in run-stopping and rushing the passer. Look for Anthony Weaver and Jeff Zgonina to get several opportunities to make plays Sunday.
Many Texans fans know the high ceiling of linebacker Zac Diles, but he’s far from a household name. Diles will play a large part in Sunday’s game as the Titans will run the ball plenty, and Diles must make stops.
Safety C.C. Brown will have to be key in run support on Sunday, as Titans speedy running back Chris Johnson can take it to the house if safeties miss on stops. Brown will likely have to make a few touchdown saving stops, and he’ll need to be up to the task.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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