Texans battling litany of injuries

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Texans battling litany of injuries

They are 11-1 and holding down the top spot in the AFC, but the Houston Texans will enter Gillette Stadium on Monday with their fingers crossed.

Injuries all along the Houston defense -- especially in the secondary -- make a showdown with the explosive Patriots a daunting challenge.

This week, the Texans lost slot corner Brice Brown in a game against Tennessee to a broken foot. Meanwhile, corners Johnathan Joseph and Alan Ball have each missed the Texans past two games. Linebackers Brian Cushing and Brooks Reed also missed Sunday. Cushing is done for the year; Reed may need another week or two before he returns.

The secondary is the big concern, though. A concern the Texans are reportedly addressing Tuesday by signing defensive back Stanford Routt.

Second-year cornerbacks Brandon Harris and Roc Carmichael filled in last week for Houston in their 24-10 win.
We know were going to play a great player and one of the top passing games in the business for a long, long time, coach Gary Kubiak told the Houston media this week. Its a challenge.Our season is going to be about some of these young guys stepping up. Im excited for them. I liked what I saw from Brandon and Roc. Theyre going to have to rise to the occasion, and we can sure help them if we can rush the passer like we did (in Tennesee).Two Texans linemen missed lat week with concussions -- right tackle Derek Newton and right guard Antoine Caldwell missed the Tennessee game as well.

This is no pity party for Houston. The Patriots have plenty of injury issues to deal with themselves, especially along the offensive line and at wide receiver.

But the potency of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' 3-4 set is compromised on the back end.

In the past three games, the Texans have allowed 372, 410 and 265 yards passing to the Jaguars, Lions and Titans. In the first eight games of the year, Houston allowed more than 300 yards passing just twice (328 to Green Bay and 316 to Denver).

McDaniels: 'Wouldn't surprise me' if Belichick coached into his 70s

McDaniels: 'Wouldn't surprise me' if Belichick coached into his 70s

When will Bill Belichick retire? The Patriots coach is 64 years old, and he's been on record saying that he won't be coaching into his 70s like former Bills head coach Marv Levy. But it sure seems like Belichick has plenty of energy to stay at the job for some time, and the results, you may have noticed, have been pretty good. 

MORE FROM McDANIELS: 'Don't know' who'll play quarterback Sunday

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels joined WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show on Monday morning, and he was asked about how much longer his boss might work. Would McDaniels be surprised if Belichick coached into his 70s despite what he said on NFL Network's A Football Life documentary back in 2009?

"It wouldn't surprise me," McDaniels said. "I know Bill loves football. His drive and his passion for the game and to try to do everything we can to prepare our team to win each week, I haven't seen one change in it. It's a great privilege to coach for him. He certainly kind of sets the tone for us. I don't see any difference in that since when I first started here. I look forward to coaching for him for as long as he'll let me."

Some have speculated that McDaniels could be the next head coach of the Patriots whenever Belichick decides to hang up his whistle. The 40-year-old has been up for head coaching positions since he's returned for his second stint in New England, but he's still with the organization that gave him his first NFL job in 2001. 

McDaniels, who left to be the head coach of the Broncos in 2009 and 2010, was asked if he values the offensive coordinator job with the Patriots more than a head coaching opportunity that might not be the perfect fit.

"I love where I'm at," McDaniels said. "I've said before I think we all have aspirations to grow and get better and improve and potentially move up and what have you. Who knows? Maybe that day happens, maybe it doesn't. But I know this: I'm really thankful to have the opprtunity that I have to coach the players we have here and to work underneath Bill and Robert [Kraft] and the Kraft family. It's a privilege here. I feel like I have one of the best jobs in the world. Just thankful that I have an opportunity to come here and do it each week."

McDaniels: Don't know who'll play QB for Patriots against Bills

McDaniels: Don't know who'll play QB for Patriots against Bills

The two quarterbacks on the Patriots roster are both dealing with injuries at the moment, and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels says he's not sure which will be starting against the Bills on Sunday.

"I don't know that," he told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show on Monday morning. "I haven't seen them in a few days. Hopefully all those guys are continuing to get better. We'll see them tomorrow. Hopefully they're all ready to go. That would be the goal. That would be the hope . . . But as of right now I don't know that."

Garoppolo's shoulder injury, suffered against the Dolphins in Week 2, was significant enough to keep him out of Thursday night's win over the Texans. In his place, rookie third-rounder Jacoby Brissett got the start, but he injured his thumb during the game. He played through the injury, which Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran has reported is "minor."

Asked if receiver Julian Edelman would be the next in line if both of those players were unavailable, McDaniels explained that the Patriots may have used a variety of looks had they been in that kind of emergency situation.

"We have to have somebody ready to go," McDaniels said. "Julian's certainly been in that position before. There's always a couple other things you can do. There's a lot of schemes that are available to people if that situation were to ever come up , , , It might not have been one thing. It might've been multiple different things that we try at that point. We had more than one guy that was ready to go if that situation came up."

Bills coach Rex Ryan said on Sunday that he didn't care who was playing behind center for the Patriots, even if it was coach Bill Belichick. The Bills would be coming after him.

"I have a lot of respect for Rex," McDaniels said. "What he says is usually the truth. They'll blitz. They'll bring a lot of packages each week to try to disrupt the quarterback, whichever team he's playing . . . He always keeps you on your toes, makes it difficult."