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NFL Playoffs League - FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Texans face Titans, go for franchise-record 8th straight win

Fri Nov 23 3:38pm ET
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer

Players: Demaryius Thomas, Andrew Luck, Blaine Gabbert, Marcus Mariota, Will Fuller, Deshaun Watson

In this Nov. 11, 2018, file photo, Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota throws a pass against the New England Patriots during the first half of an NFL football game in Nashville, Tenn. The Titans play the Houston Texans, who have won seven games in a row, Monday night. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski, File)


In this Oct. 14, 2018, file photo, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) scrambles during the second half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, in Houston. Allen returns after missing four games with a sprained right throwing elbow when the Bills host the Jaguars on Sunday, Nov. 25. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith, File)


In this Nov. 18, 2018, file photo, Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson looks around the field before the team's NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md. The Texans will be going for their eighth win in a row when they host the Tennessee Titans on Monday night. "We understand that it's going to be tough each and every week, and we understand that all 31 other teams don't really care what we've done in the past," Watson said. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)


HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans have matched a franchise record for most consecutive wins and are the first team since the 1925 New York Giants to win seven straight games after opening a season 0-3.

Despite this impressive streak, they're far from satisfied and know they'll have to continue to improve to get their eighth win in a row when they host the Tennessee Titans on Monday night.

''We understand that it's going to be tough each and every week, and we understand that all 31 other teams don't really care what we've done in the past,'' Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson said. ''It's about what we do this week. We don't believe in the hype. We just grind and go out there and prepare and try to play our hardest to get a win.''

Coach Bill O'Brien agreed with Watson and said he stresses to his players that things could go downhill quickly if they focus on what they've already done instead of worrying about their next opponent.

''You're always looking to improve. No doubt about it,'' he said. ''I think that's what the league's all about. Who can get better the fastest, who can be the team that improves the fastest as the year goes on? I think every game there's going to be chances for improvement, and we definitely have to improve.''

The Texans, who lost to Tennessee in Week 2, have a two-game lead in the AFC South over the Titans and Colts, who are both 5-5.

Houston beat the Redskins 23-21 last week for its second straight two-point win after downing the Broncos 19-17 on Nov. 4 before its bye. The Titans have had an up-and-down two weeks after beating New England 34-10 on Nov. 11 before Indianapolis routed them 38-10 last week.

''The Houston Texans are a true example of handling adversity and moving forward. They lost 3 in a row early on, everybody thought their season was over and all of a sudden they're on top of the division and might be fighting for a bye depending on where they're going,'' Tennessee linebacker Brian Orakpo said. ''They're on our schedule now. We lost one, chance to redeem ourselves.''

Some things to know about Tennessee's Monday night visit to Houston:

PROTECT THE QB

Marcus Mariota was sacked four times in the first half alone before being knocked out of the game last week just before halftime with a stinger. Now the Titans face the Texans with Houston defensive end Jadeveon Clowney healthy instead of watching from the sideline as Clowney did in Week 2 when these teams met.

Mariota and the Titans hope the quarterback will be available Monday night, though he's waiting for a nerve in his throwing arm to settle down.

If Mariota doesn't start, that would mean Blaine Gabbert gets his third start this season and second against the Texans.

GETTING INVOLED

Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas hasn't made much of an impact since being traded to the Texans from Denver on Oct. 30 after Will Fuller suffered a season-ending knee injury. The nine-year veteran had three receptions for 61 yards in his debut, but didn't have a catch on two targets on Sunday. O'Brien took the blame for his limited work.

''It's not Demaryius,'' O'Brien said. ''I have to do a better job of getting him more involved. He's working hard, he's a good pro and we need to do a better job of getting him the ball a little more.''

PEES BACK

Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees rejoined the team Tuesday after leaving the team's last game with a medical issue. Coach Mike Vrabel is trying to limit the 69-year-old coach's hours at the team headquarters in Pees' return to work.

Having Pees available and calling blitzes and coverages from the coach's box in Houston could provide a nice boost to a defense that was dissected by Andrew Luck last week. The Titans allowed a season-high 38 points, dropping from the NFL's top scoring defense to second overall.

Orakpo said hearing Pees had been taken to a hospital shook the Titans.

''Man, that was definitely a scary scene to be a part of,'' Orakpo said.

WATT AND CLOWNEY

Clowney and J.J. Watt have combined to be one of the league's most feared defensive duos this season. Clowney has 12 tackles for losses, 14 quarterback hits, 6 1/2 sacks and two fumble recoveries, including one for a touchdown. Watt has 10 sacks, 12 tackles for losses, 17 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles and has swatted down two passes.

Vrabel is very familiar with Clowney and Watt after working as an assistant with the Texans from 2014-17. But he rarely had both players on the field at the same time when he coached in Houston because of various injuries to the two players. He was asked if he's happy to see that they're finally both healthy and playing so well this season.

''I think 14 games out of the year, I'd probably feel pretty good for them, but there will be two of them when I don't,'' Vrabel said. ''They're good people. I thought I had a good relationship with both of those guys.''

Player Notes
Michael Roberts Jun 14 2:53am ET

Updating a previous report, the Detroit Lions traded TE Michael Roberts to the New England Patriots in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2020.

Andre Roberts Jun 13 11:53pm ET

Buffalo Bills WR Andre Roberts may see work in the passing game as the No. 5 receiver in addition to playing on special teams, according to Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News.

Matt Barkley Jun 13 10:53pm ET

Buffalo Bills QB Matt Barkley has the 'safest' role on the roster as QB Josh Allen's backup, in the opinion of Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News.

Cameron Meredith Jun 13 10:33pm ET

New Orleans Saints WR Cameron Meredith (knee) said sitting out OTAs and minicamp is 'mostly a matter of being smart' in order to ensure a healthy training camp.

Geronimo Allison Jun 13 10:13pm ET

Green Bay Packers WR Geronimo Allison is 'likely slated as the slot man' in three-receiver sets, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.

Fantasy Spin: Allison had a productive start to last season before suffering an injury, and while Marquez Valdes-Scantling may have the inside track on the No. 2 receiver job, the Green Bay passing attack could support three viable fantasy options. Consider Allison a WR4 with upside.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling Jun 13 10:03pm ET

Green Bay Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling has been lining up across from WR Davante Adams in all packages during minicamp.

Fantasy Spin: It sounds like Valdes-Scantling has the inside track to the No. 2 receiver job. It remains to be seen if he will take the role and run with it, but the upside that comes with being one of Aaron Rodgers' top targets makes him a WR4 candidate.

Robby Anderson Jun 13 9:23pm ET

New York Jets WR Robby Anderson (undisclosed) did not practice Thursday, June 13, because of an undisclosed injury.

Fantasy Spin: The nature of Anderson's injury remains unclear, but unless it lingers into training camp, fantasy owners shouldn't be too concerned. Anderson started to connect with Sam Darnold on some big plays late last season, and he's a WR3 candidate in 2019 as the top option in the passing attack.

Leonard Fournette Jun 13 9:03pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette will be a big part of the passing game with QB Nick Foles in 2019, according to ESPN's Michael DiRocco.

Fantasy Spin: Fournette has just 48 career catches for 487 yards and two touchdowns over the first two seasons of his career. Foles most memorably hooked up with RB Corey Clement four times for 100 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl LII. Fournette could be a huge steal if he continues to go in the third round of PPR drafts.

Marlon Mack Jun 13 8:23pm ET

Indianapolis Colts RB Marlon Mack is being viewed by head coach Frank Reich as the team's workhorse in the backfield, according to Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star.

Fantasy Spin: Mack rushed for 908 yards and nine touchdowns last season while adding 103 yards and one touchdown as a receiver. Nyheim Hines should handle the majority of third-down duties in 2019, but Mack could still return plenty of value as a high-end RB2.

LeSean McCoy Jun 13 7:43pm ET

Buffalo Bills RB LeSean McCoy expects to maintain a large role in the offense in his age-31 season in 2019. 'I'm a type of guy, I thrive off of having a big name. So when guys come to my team, they're curious to see, 'How is LeSean McCoy? Is he still a good player?' I mean, I'm a dominant player. I think that speaks for itself. But I'll be in the same role as last year. And I look forward to putting some numbers up and bouncing back from that last season,' McCoy said Tuesday, June 12.

Fantasy Spin: McCoy totaled just 752 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns last season. Both numbers were career worsts as he played in 14 games but made just 13 starts. He remains No. 1 on the Bills' depth chart, but he'll be competing against veteran RB Frank Gore and third-round rookie Devin Singletary. He's fallen into RB4 territory but could prove to be a steal at a mid-round price.

Darius Slay Jun 13 6:43pm ET

Detroit Lions CB Darius Slay hasn't committed to reporting to next month's training camp without a new contract. 'Will I be there?' Slay said in an episode of The Pride Podcast released Thursday, June 13. 'We'll see. Time will tell.' Slay is set to carry a cap hit of $12.55 million in 2019 on the second-to-last year of a four-year, $48-million deal signed in 2016.

Dallas Goedert Jun 13 6:33pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles TE Dallas Goedert has looked ready to make a second-year leap into stardom in 2019, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Fantasy Spin: Goedert, who caught 33 passes for 334 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie after being chosen 49th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, will remain behind Zach Ertz on the Eagles' depth chart as a sophomore. He could prove to be a viable TE2 in deeper leagues and would be an instant must-add should Ertz miss any time.

David Moore Jun 13 6:23pm ET

Seattle Seahawks WR David Moore has made a huge leap this offseason in his knowledge of the position and in his ability to play multiple spots, according to head coach Pete Carroll on Thursday, June 13.

Fantasy Spin: Moore caught just 26 of 53 targets last season but turned those into 445 yards and five touchdowns. He projects behind Tyler Lockett and rookie D.K. Metcalf on the depth chart, but he's worth a late-round pick as a WR5 as the Seahawks begin life without Doug Baldwin.

Theo Riddick Jun 13 5:53pm ET

Detroit Lions RB Theo Riddick is not guaranteed to make the team out of training camp, in the opinion of the Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett.

Kerryon Johnson Jun 13 5:53pm ET

Detroit Lions RB Kerryon Johnson finished with 32 catches in 10 games as a rookie in 2018, and the Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett could see him doubling that production in 2019 if the team decides they don't need to take Johnson off the field on third down.

Demarcus Lawrence Jun 13 5:53pm ET

Dallas Cowboys CB Byron Jones (hip) and DE DeMarcus Lawrence (shoulder) are expected to begin training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

DeSean Jackson Jun 13 5:43pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson has reportedly built a strong connection and sense of timing with QB Carson Wentz throughout the spring, according to Mike Kaye of NJ.com.

Lamar Jackson Jun 13 5:43pm ET

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson indicated he may work with noted 'quarterback guru' Tom House over the summer and confirmed he will throw to his teammates in either Baltimore or somewhere in Florida in July.

Travin Dural Jun 13 4:53pm ET

New Orleans Saints WR Travin Dural was waived Thursday, June 13.

C.J. Prosise Jun 13 4:43pm ET

Seattle Seahawks RB C.J. Prosise (hamstring) reportedly left practice with a tight hamstring Thursday, June 13, according to head coach Pete Carroll.