Houston Texans: 5 Players Who Will Shine in Week 1

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Who Shines in Week 1?

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Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

We have come to it at last: The 2013 NFL season.

No longer do we have to talk about who should or should not make the final 53-man roster or if this player should or should not have been cut. Suffering through talk of who the backup quarterback will be has hopefully been expired and we can now watch the premiere players of the 2013 Houston Texans play a full game that counts.

It has been a long offseason in Houston that has had the bad taste from the last quarter of the 2012 campaign left in the mouths of fans. It is still difficult to believe that a team that started a dominating 11-1 last season, limped into the playoffs and were smoked (twice) by the same team within a month's time. But that's the way the NFL works sometimes.

Hoping to leave last year behind, Matt Schaub has faced incredulous criticism and the blame for all things last season. With the team adding some weapons and an actual legitimate compliment next to his favorite target, Andre Johnson, he has more talent on this side of the ball than ever before.

There are questions on the offensive line and in the secondary, but Houston has one of the best rosters in the league on paper. If they're going to put it all together in 2013, that road starts in San Diego.

The last time these two teams played, Phillip Rivers embarrassed then rookie Kareem Jackson so bad that fans were ready to cut him at halftime. Things are quite different now and Jackson is considered one of the best No. 2 corners in the league.

With this game, Houston begins its march as an AFC Super Bowl contender. Here are five players who will help them get off on the right foot on Monday night.

Mike Kerns is a Houston Texans writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on TwitterFacebook and on Google. You can also listen to his Texans Luv Ya Steel Blue podcast on iTunes.

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J.J. Watt

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I'll go ahead and get this one out of the way because it's a no-brainer pick. No one expects J.J. Watt to have the season he had last year, but he doesn't need to do so to still be the best defensive player in football. Going up against the rebuilding San Diego offensive line just doesn't seem fair.

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Owen Daniels

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Owen Daniels seems to be the forgotten man on the Houston offense. Not from production, but from the new wideout on the roster and the good play of his budding replacement, Garrett Graham. But if this indeed does become Daniels' farewell tour with the Texans, he'll get it started off with a bang with so much attention being placed on DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson.

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Whitney Mercilus

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With the extra attention being paid to Watt, Whitney Mercilus has his breakout game in his first as an NFL starter. Most fans in Houston are down on him since he missed the entire preseason with an injury, and he will make some errors in stopping the run. But he more than makes up with it in his hurries on Phillip Rivers, causing some errant throws that lead to turnovers.

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Ben Tate

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Gary Kubiak stays true to his word and lightens the work load for Arian Foster this week as he eases him back in the lineup. In his stead, Ben Tate has a good day running the ball and will find the end zone more than once. It has never been about talent for Tate, as he's good enough to be a top runner in the league. It's just staying on the field and he makes it through this one intact.

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Matt Schaub

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Yes, even though his critics won't want to give him any credit and would rather talk about an incomplete pass he threw in the second quarter over his good play, Matt Schaub gets off to a great start to the 2013 season. With the most-loaded roster he's had on the offensive side of the ball, there are no more excuses for him this year. He takes a step into forgetting the latter half of 2012 in the season opener.


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