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).

Quick Slants Podcast: Antonio Brown’s betrayal; Matt Light; eyeing up Pittsburgh

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Quick Slants Podcast: Antonio Brown’s betrayal; Matt Light; eyeing up Pittsburgh

Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry discuss the aftermath of Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live video. Curran interview Matt Light ahead of the AFC Championship. They dissect the press conferences of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and look at how to beat the Steelers.

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2:29 Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live aftermath

13:14 Stopping Le’Veon Bell

27:16 heywassyonumba? with Patrick Chung and Kyle Van Noy

32:30 Injury report updates for AFC Championship

36:51 Brady and Belichick’s press conferences

44:50 Matt Light interview

Belichick asked if playing at home helps: 'Go ask Dallas and Kansas City'

Belichick asked if playing at home helps: 'Go ask Dallas and Kansas City'

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick knows that how you play, not where, is what matters most. 

That's why when he was asked on Wednesday about the advantage the Patriots will have by playing at Gillette Stadium in the AFC title game, he wasn't willing to go all-in on how a comfortable environment will positively impact his team.

"I don’t know," he said. "Go ask Dallas and Kansas City."

The Patriots apparently thought enough of home-field advantage that they played their starters throughout their regular-season finale win in Miami, exposing their best players to potential injury in order to maintain their positive momentum while simultaneously ensuring a better road to the Super Bowl. 

The Patriots fans in attendance on Sunday will help when the Patriots take on the Steelers, Belichick acknowledged. But there's much more to it than that. 

"Yeah, of course," he said, "but the game is won by the players on the field. That’s who wins football games – the players. And they’ll decide it Sunday night."

And if you needed any further proof, just ask the Cowboys and Chiefs how helpful their home crowds were in the Divisional Round.