|The Texans will focus on stopping Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew on Sunday. (US Presswire)|
With RB Rashad Jennings dealing with a knee injury, Jones-Drew will start this week despite ending his 38-day holdout Sept. 2. Jones-Drew rushed for 77 yards on 19 carries in the Jaguars' opener against Minnesota.
“Anytime you play against a great back, we've always pointed him out,” Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. “Everybody knows where he is. You have one eye on him all the time. The linebackers, secondary, everybody has one eye on him and where he's going with the football. On him, you especially have to gang tackle because he'll break tackles.”
Jones-Drew will be running behind an offensive line that Phillips said doesn't get enough attention. As CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco pointed out, LT Eugene Monroe had his way with Vikings DE Jared Allen last week. But the Jaguars are banged up with T Cameron Bradfield, G Eben Britton and G Uche Nwaneri dealing with injuries.
“I'm not sure that their offensive line gets as much credit as they should,” Phillips said. “They have a powerful running attack with a great back, but they are strong, powerful, big guys that move the pile and so forth. That'll be a challenge for us.”
Houston's run defense was a little suspect against the Dolphins, especially in the first half. Miami RB Reggie Bush ran for 69 yards on 14 carries. The Texans will have to be on their game to bottle up Jones-Drew on Sunday.
“The biggest thing with this guy is you better make sure he is down when he gets in those piles and guys are not standing around but think the play is over and all of a sudden here he comes out of a pile and makes a big play on you,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak told reporters. “He makes you tackle him as probably as well as any back in football.”
- RB Arian Foster was back Thursday after having to leave practice early Wednesday due to an illness. Kubiak said that LB Bryan Braman participated in half of Thursday's practice before having to leave due to the sore hamstring that kept him out of last week's game.
- DE Antonio Smith missed practice Thursday with a sore ankle. Kubiak said he isn't concerned yet about Smith's status for Sunday. “It feels a lot better [Thursday],” Smith told reporters. “[Wednesday], no bueno. But [Thursday], it felt a lot better.”
- Jaguars rookie WR Justin Blackmon had three catches for 24 yards in his debut last week. “I've been really impressed with how strong his hands are and how he runs after the catch,” Phillips said. “He's got that elusiveness and that strength after the catch that he can make a big play, even on a shorter gain. He can go up and get the ball on the longer passes. So, he's everything they thought he was I'm sure.”
Follow Texans blogger Sean Bielawski on Twitter, @CBSTexans.