Chargers Game Preview: Texans vs. Chargers, Week 3

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Broadcast Info

  • Sunday Sept. 22, at 1:25 p.m. PT
  • ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park
  • TV: CBS - Spero Dedes (play-by-play) and Adam Archuleta (analyst)
  • Radio (English): KFI-AM 640 - Matt “Money” Smith (play-by-play), Daniel Jeremiah (analyst) and Shannon Farren (sideline)
  • Radio (Spanish): KFWB-AM 980 - Mario Solis (play-by-play) and Jorge Villanueva (analyst)
  • APP: Chargers Mobile (iOS), Yahoo Sports (Android)

For more information on how to watch the game including the mobile app and livestreaming, click here.

Fantennial Bolts Bash

Before heading to the game Sunday, come celebrate the NFL's 100th anniversary and 60 seasons of Chargers football with the Bolts at the Fantennial Bolts Bash from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at The Grove. Hosted by Matt "Money" Smith, come hang out with Chargers Legends including Hall of Famers LaDainian Tomlinson and Charlie Joiner, Wes Chandler, Antonio Cromartie, Leslie “Speedy” Duncan and Lorenzo Neal.

For more information and to RSVP, click here.

All-Time Series

Sunday’s game will mark the seventh regular season meeting between the two teams as the Chargers hold a 5-1 advantage. The Chargers won the last meeting on Nov. 27, 2016 at Houston, 21-13. Philip Rivers has thrown three or more touchdowns in all four of his games played against the Texans and a career passer rating of 120.6.

Texans' Last Time Out

The Houston Texans (1-1) beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in their last game 13-12. In the win, running back Carlos Hyde totaled 90 yards rushing. Quarterback Deshaun Watson has thrown for 427 yards and three scores while adding two more on the ground so far this season.

Injuries

For the Texans injury report, click here.

Storylines

Next Man Up

According to head coach Anthony Lynn, safeties Jaylen Watkins and possibly Nasir Adderley will see an increase in playing time after safety Adrian Phillips suffered a broken arm in the Chargers Week 2 loss against the Lions. Meanwhile, Lynn also mentioned that rookie safety Roderic Teamer, who was a full participant in preactice on Wednesday, will get "a lot of reps this week."

Phillips was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday.

“AP (Adrian Phillips) is like a coach on the field,” Lynn said. AP’s versatility is huge. He was a special teams Pro Bowler last year. He’s the captain of that secondary. He’ll be hard to replace. We have some guys that will try to fill his shoes.”

Phillips, who had seven total tackles in 57 combined snaps before being removed from Sunday’s game has seen most of the team's action at safety with Derwin James sidelined. Out of the three safeties mentioned by Lynn, Watkins is the only one who has received playing time this season, having totaled 24 snaps on defense in the team's first two games.

“This team has always had that ‘next man up’ mentality,” Lynn said. “We’re going to compete every single week. That’s one thing that we’re going to do. We’re going to try to get those guys healthy and maybe get them back later. For right now, we have enough. I like to say, "all we’ve got is all we need.'”

Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson vs. Houston Defense

With two straight 130-total yard performances from Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson leading the NFL with 8.9 yards per rushing attempt, the Chargers backfield duo has been effective through the first two weeks of the season. However, they will be up against a Texans defense which held the Jaguars to 103 yards rushing last week.

While Houston was able to control the running game last week, head coach Bill O’Brien understands that his defense will be tasked with handling a pair of Chargers running backs who bring an entirely different skillset.

“It’s just a different offense,” said O’Brien. "It’s going to take another effort of just doing our jobs and everybody playing good gap-control defense and understanding with Ekeler and the guys that they have back there, that they present a lot of problems. Obviously with Philip as their quarterback, they are a very dynamic offense. We have to do a great job of mixing things up and try to do the best we can in keeping their offense off balance.”

Defensive Dominance

The Chargers took a big step forward defensively in Week 2, limiting the Lions to 94 yards rushing. Lynn accredited this defensive improvement to the likes of defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

“I thought they played well,” Lynn said. “Joey [Bosa] and Melvin Ingram, those two stood out the most to me because when you have elite rushers on the edge, sometimes they don’t like to play that run. I saw them making extra effort to make plays in the run game. That’s being really unselfish as a pass rusher.”

The Chargers limited the Lions to 3.4 yards per carry on the afternoon and will look to contain Deshaun Watson and the Texans in a similar way.

“They have an excellent defense," Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said. "When you look at their defensive line obviously with Bosa and Ingram, (and Brandon) Mebane inside, you have a good rotation of players. Linebackers are really good, very tough, very athletic… A very very tough front to go against.”

Take an inside look as the Chargers return home to the Hoag Performance Center to begin preparations for the Houston Texans.

Watt Brothers

Chargers fullback Derek Watt will go head-to-head against his older brother, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, for the first time in their careers this Sunday.

Derek remarked that he's, "Never gone against him in a competitive atmosphere" before and that the two have been communicating throughout the week, but neither are "trying to give anything away."

"J.J. FaceTimed two days ago mainly to see my son initially," the fullback said. "Then he threw in at the end 'What's the game plan looking like this week?' I told him we aren't quite there yet, but either way, I'm not telling you and you'll find out on Sunday what the game plan is."

On this week's episode of Playmakers, Chargers team reporter Hayley Elwood spoke with Derek Watt's wife, Gabriella, on what it's been like marrying into a family with three brothers in the NFL.

The fullback has also seen an increase in playing time this season and quarterback On Wednesday, Rivers commented on how Watt has improved.

"The best way to describe it is that he's a football player." Rivers said. "He can catch it well, he blocks, he's smart, he can just do a little bit of everything. I know he'll be fired up... having your brother out there across from you is pretty special."

Clemson Connection: Mike Williams and Deshaun Watson

In their 2016 National Championship-season at Clemson, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson connected with Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams at a prolific rate. Williams caught 98 passes for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns, and Watson had 388 completions and totaled 4593 yards passing.

"He's my dog," said Williams. "I talk to him all the time. We always talk trash to each other, it's some friendly competition."

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In addition to having played three years together at Clemson, Williams and Watson practice together in the offseason. Williams remarked that this familiarity has given him knowledge of "exactly what Watson is capable of."

"He was my quarterback," said Williams. "I've caught a lot of balls from him, I've been in meetings with him (so) I've seen how smart he is."

Although the two are good friends, friendships will be set aside when the two take the field this Sunday.

"It's lit," Williams said. "I wish the best for (Watson). Not this week, though."

Texans Players to Watch

This week on Chargers Weekly, Chris Hayre talked with the Houston Chronicle's John McClain – who has covered the league for 43 years – about which Texans players Chargers fans should be watching for on Sunday:

Deshaun Watson

Last season, Watson had 26 touchdowns for a combined 4165 yards. However, he was sacked 62 times last season, more than any other NFL quarterback. Additionally, his 384 yards lost due to sacks was also the highest in the league.

If Ingram sacks Watson Sunday, he’ll pass Shawne Merriman and take sole possession of sixth place in franchise history with 44.0.

Carlos Hyde

With Texans starting running back Lamar Miller out for the season, Carlos Hyde has stepped up and produced for Houston.

“The running game is actually better now,” said head coach Anthony Lynn. “Carlos Hyde, he looks terrific. That rushing attack looks good with Duke Johnson in the backfield. It looks real good.”

After rushing for 83 yards in Week 1, Hyde ran for 90 yards against Jacksonville in Week 2. Additionally, Hyde's 5.8 rushing yards per attempt ranks seventh in the NFL while Johnson is even better, ranking tied for fifth in the NFL with 5.9 yards per rushing attempt.

Whitney Mercilus

Outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus picked up two sacks and two forced fumbles in last week's game against the Jaguars, earning him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

“Whitney’s very good on the edge of the defense," O'Brien said. “He’s got a good idea for how we need him to play and how he has to play to help us win. He sets the edge of the running game, he’s very disruptive in the passing game (and) we move him around a little bit. He’s a very smart player.”

Zach Cunningham

McClain specifically identified outside linebacker Zach Cunningham as a player to watch against the Chargers due to his career game last week where he had nine solo tackles and his first career sack.

Jahleel Addae

Texans safety Jahleel Addae spent his first six seasons with the Chargers before joining Houston via free agency this past offseason.

“Jahleel Addae has been a really good addition to our team,” said O’Brien. “He’s just a really good teammate. He helps us in a lot of different ways… he’s one of our leaders on special teams. On defense, he plays a lot of different positions. He plays safety (and) he plays down in the box. Just a great guy, a really good guy to have on the team, and I’ve enjoyed coaching him.”

Over Addae’s six seasons with the Chargers, the safety played in 80 games and had 387 combined tackles.

What are the Texans saying about the Chargers?

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