Late For Work 10/10: Texans’ Injuries Pile Up; Schaub ‘Choked’

AFC North race gets tighter; best/worst cases vs. Texans; Bisciotti remembers Al Davis.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Monday, October 10th, 2011 at 9:24 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Texans’ Injuries Pile Up; Williams Tears Pectoral Muscle

Two more key Texans players could miss Sunday’s matchup against the Ravens.

All Pro wide receiver Andre Johnson is already expected to be absent with an injured hamstring, and now it looks like they’ve lost outside linebacker Mario Williams and fullback James Casey for “a significant period of time,” reports the Houston Chronicle.

Williams and Casey suffered torn pectoral muscles, and the extent of damage will be assessed today when they undergo MRIs. ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting Williams will be out “indefinitely” if not for the remainder of the season.

One play after recording his fifth sack of the season in the first quarter, Williams sustain his injury and came running off the field hardly moving his arms. He never returned.

Both Williams and Johnson are what the Chronicle called “possibly irreplaceable players” that are “arguably the best on the roster on either side of the ball.”

If Williams does not play, the Ravens may have a better chance of keeping quarterback Joe Flacco upright and give him time to find receivers. The Texans’ top pass rusher didn’t record a sack or tackle in last year’s battle with the Ravens, but Flacco was sacked five times.

Without Houston’s go-to star on offense, the Oakland Raiders altered the Texans’ identity.

Houston’s offensive line couldn’t control the line of scrimmage and the Raiders didn’t respect the passing game with Johnson out. Oakland stacked the box to stop last year’s rushing leader Arian Foster.

“The running game is the lifeblood of the offense,” wrote the Chronicle’s John McClain.  ”With Foster getting stuffed for too many 2-yard gains because the Raiders refused to let him cut back and explode through the hole, Schaub was forced to pass.

“They were staying in the box,” Foster told reporters. “When you have eight guys in the box, nine sometimes, it’s hard to impose your will on them.”

Oakland Player Says Schaub ‘Choked’

One of the most thrilling endings to a Ravens contest last season was when cornerback Josh Wilson intercepted quarterback Schaub’s pass and returned it 12 yards for a touchdown in overtime.

Cameras showed Schaub shaking his head in disbelief.

One week before he travels to Baltimore for a rematch, Schaub suffered a similar ending in the Texans’ 25-20 loss to Oakland.

Schaub was orchestrating a come-from-behind drive when he threw an interception on the last play of the game.

“Only a couple ticks remained on the clock Sunday when Schaub had to make a fateful decision: Attempt to scramble for the winning touchdown as the final gun went off, which he didn’t think he could do, or sneak a needle-threading pass into the hands of the covered Jacoby Jones, which he failed to do,” wrote the Chronicle’s Dale Robertson.

“Raiders safety Michael Huff stepped in front of Jones and made an easy pick. Game over.”

Despite finishing with 416 yards, Schaub had taken a beating most of the afternoon, which seemed to take a toll on his accuracy. He had 27 incompletions.

Fans and media in Houston are already questioning Schaub’s decision to pass instead of running when a path to the end zone appeared to be open. It won’t help when Texans fans hear about Oakland’s assessment of the play.

“Old boy choked,” Raiders defensive tackle Tommy Kelly chortled. “All he had to do was run it in. He choked, simple as that.”

Best/Worst-Case Scenarios vs. Texans

The Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg projected the best and worst-case scenarios for each of the Ravens’ remaining games of the season.

With Houston coming up, let’s see what Van Valkenburg envisions for Sunday’s contest.

Best-case scenario: “We already know Andre Johnson will miss this game with an injury, which takes away the biggest advantage Houston might have had against the Ravens’ shaky secondary. Free to continue with their blitz-happy ways, the Ravens shut down Arian Foster and batter Matt Schaub, forcing a pair of turnovers. In doing so, they keep the pressure off an offensive unit that’s still finding its way, and Baltimore wins, 28-14, in front of a rabid crowd singing along to Seven Nation Army.

Worst-case scenario: “Anticipating a series of blitzes, the Texans put Schaub in the shotgun and call a series of quick routes and quick throws. Jimmy Smith isn’t healthy yet, and Ravens linebackers can’t run with Foster, leading to a shootout. Flacco continues to look like a man casting a thousand-yard stare, and the Ravens are upset, 31-24.”

Bisciotti Remembers First Encounter With Al Davis

Injuries or not, the Texans were going to have a hard time beating an emotionally charged Raiders team after owner Al Davis died Saturday at the age of 82.

In fact, as Huff ended the game with his interception, Oakland Head Coach Hue Jackson dropped to his knees, covered his face and cried as his team celebrated the bittersweet victory.

Teams around the league held a moment of silence for Davis before their respective kickoffs.

Steve Bisciotti recalled his first encounter with Davis when he became the owner of the Ravens in 2000.

As Bisciotti, 39 at the time, was leaving an owners meeting, he encountered Davis who was wearing a typical all-white outfit with silver-and-black trimmed glasses.

“Al is this magnetic personality, just so brilliant in everything about football and I immediately thought to myself, I want to really pick his brain, try to learn from him,” Bisciotti told Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole. “So I introduce myself and say, ‘Al, I would really love to come out to California and sit down with you sometime, just talk about football.’ I told him I had some meetings out in California, so I’d like to come over and see him. I really didn’t have any meetings out there, but I figured it was a good excuse.

“I remember it so distinctly because we were standing in this hall just outside the meeting room. Down at the far end was all the media, and we were just stopped there for a second. Al looked at me, smiled and said, ‘No, kid, you don’t want to be associated with me.’ 

“I said, ‘No, Al, I really mean it.’ He just looked at me, put his hand on my arm to make the point even stronger and said, ‘No, I really mean it.’ Then he just walked down the hall and disappeared into this group of reporters. I just stood there with my mouth open thinking, ‘What just happened here?’ It took me awhile, but I realized, in his own way, Al was protecting me. At the time, he was doing something to cause trouble in the league, suing the league, causing some controversy. He was telling me, ‘You don’t want to be associated with me from the start.’ ”

AFC North Race Gets Tighter

The Ravens got much-needed rest yesterday.

But as they sat back to watch the rest of the NFL, they saw their own division race get even tighter.

The Steelers (3-2) came up with a big win against the Tennessee Titans, 38-17. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) continued to perform above analysts’ expectations by beating the Jacksonville Jaguars, 30-20.

“The AFC North has become the model division when it comes to parity in the NFL,” wrote ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. “No other division has three teams with winning records, and the AFC North is the only division without a one-win team or a winless one.”

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