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Know the Foe: Titans' Offensive Line Wants to Limit Texans' J.J. Watt

Posted Dec 27, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The sack numbers have decreased, the quarterback hits have increased, but the intensity level of Texans defensive end J.J. Watt has stayed high, despite Houston’s 13 consecutive losses.

Watt, the 2012 AP Defensive Player of the Year, has 9.5 sacks this season, about half of the whopping 20.5 he had last season. Watt has passed the 42 quarterback hits he had last season by two (an NFL-leading 44) with one game to play.

The Titans don’t want either of those numbers to increase Sunday when Tennessee (6-9) hosts Houston (2-13) at LP Field.

The Titans know the importance of keeping Texans DE J.J. Watt away from the quarterback.

“When you watch him on tape, he’s very productive,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “He’s hitting quarterbacks a lot, and the one thing is — I just got done watching the Houston-Denver game again — and he hit Manning a bunch and Manning doesn’t get hit a lot.”

Titans coach Mike Munchak said the Texans haven’t found ways to win several close games but haven’t slipped in their effort level.

“People want to say that guys don’t play hard because their record is (2-13), but every Sunday … tell me J.J. Watt’s not playing hard,” Munchak said. “Tell that to our offensive line watching them play.”

Rookie guard Chance Warmack started for the Titans in Week 2 when the AFC South rivals last met, but he’ll likely be flanked by different players this time. Rookie Brian Schwenke is expected to make his ninth start of the season at center, and third-year pro Byron Stingily is likely to make his second consecutive and fourth career start at right tackle.  

“We watched a lot of tape on their ends. We’ve got to be fundamental and can’t go in head first and try to attack them,” Stingily said. “You’ve got to be patient with them and stick to what you know and you should be alright.”

Schwenke said he and Warmack have swapped notes from what Warmack learned in the first encounter like they usually do. Schwenke said it’s important for offensive linemen to stay focused on their game and “just do what you do well” and not change their approach to counteract Watt.

“I think that’s how Watt gets a lot of guys, is he’ll get in guys’ heads before he ever plays against them and they’ll change things to try to block him and it will actually hurt them more,” Schwenke said. “I think that’s one of the biggest things, go up there and feel comfortable with what you do, and as we’re coached, we should be able to block anyone. If you execute a technique perfectly, unless he really just gives an outstanding move, you should be able to block him, but if you go out there and mess with your technique, that’s when you start to give up your edge and you could get beat easily.”

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