The last thing any team needs to hear when heading to Maryland to face the defending Super Bowl champs and a team with a 6-1 record against them is that their starting left tackle will not be making the trip with them, but that’s just what happened to the Houston Texans yesterday evening as they began their trip to face the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday at 12 p.m. CST.
Duane Brown. an all-pro left tackle with 78 starts for the Texans, is just now missing the first game in his six-year NFL career. He was originally thought to be a game-time decision, but he did not join the Texans on the trip to Maryland. He has a turf toe which he suffered in last week’s victory over the Tennessee Titans.
He sat out five plays in that game, but eventually returned to finish the game. The injury wasn’t diagnosed as a turf toe until after the game.
With Brown sitting out, Ryan Harris will get the call. There has been some disparaging of Harris, but it’s not like he’s a rookie. He started 18 games with the Denver Broncos before signing with Houston in 2012. He also started two games for the Texans last year when Derek Newton was injured. Head coach Gary Kubiak is hopeful that Harris can handle the assignment.
Harris does have a significant challenge, and not just because he’s played most of his career at right tackle. Harris and the rest of the Texans’ offensive line is facing Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, who have a combined 152 sacks in their careers. You also can’t count out Haloti Ngata, Chris Canty or Arthur Jones, who have a combined 47.5 sacks over their careers.
Texans quarterback Matt Schaub has been sacked just four times this season, but the Ravens already have eight sacks as a team, tied for the third in the NFL. Baltimore has also allowed only 130 total rushing yards, which is seventh best in the league. Arian Foster and Ben Tate have combined for the fourth-most rushing yards so far this season though, and when the Ravens aren’t sacking quarterbacks, they’re near the bottom in passing yards allowed.
This line battle has certainly become more interesting, and will probably determine who wins this game. If Brown had played in this game, I would have given the Texans a 70 percent chance of winning this game. Now, I’d say it’s more like a 50-50 shot. Whatever happens, you don’t want to miss this game Sunday.