Perhaps no NFL team has suffered from a rash of injuries more than the Houston Texans so far this season.
The injury bug started this summer and into the season, with reigning NFL rushing champion Arian Foster being brought to a halt with a hamstring injury. Then there was the injury to All-Pros Andre Johnson (wide receiver) and Mario Williams (outside linebacker).
The Texans have nonetheless managed to hold their own and remain firmly in the hunt for the franchise’s first playoff berth. Much of that has to do with background players like receiver Jacoby Jones and second-year running back Ben Tate stepping up to make plays when the front-line players have gone down.
Not only has their play helped the Texans in the short-term, the new players are establishing themselves as weapons that could prove beneficial as the AFC South-leading Texans make a push toward the playoffs in December.
“It’s never a good thing when you have injuries because you never want to have guys miss time, but that’s the way this league work[s]. It’s a league of opportunity,” said Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. “When things happen and some guys miss some time, you hope it’s not for too long, but it does allow guys to take advantage of that opportunity. That’s what this league is about, especially when you see guys take advantage of those opportunities.”
Johnson, who has missed the Texans' last three games and will miss a fourth Sunday against Jacksonville with a hamstring injury, says he has been impressed with how players like receiver Kevin Walter, tight end Joel Dreessen, Jones and Tate have stepped up when the starters have been injured.
Tate, for instance, has three 100-yard rushing games in his first seven games as a pro (he missed all of his rookie season with an ankle injury) and currently leads the team in rushing ahead of Foster.
“To be honest, man, I really expect it out of them because you see them do it every week, especially in practice. Now they have just been given more opportunity to go out and make the plays. It doesn’t surprise me at all. I get excited to watch them play.”
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(Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images)