Texans set tone with fast starts

Associated Press Modified: September 6, 2012 at 4:01 am •  Published: September 6, 2012
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HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans want to get their season off to a fast start — and there's a good chance they will.

The Texans scored on their opening drive nine times in 2011. And whether it was the starters or backups running the offense, they also scored on their first series in each of their four preseason games.

Houston plays Miami on Sunday in the regular-season opener. Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison says the Texans want to set a quick pace against every opponent and force defenses to adjust from there.

"We want to get up and down, get ready to go and really set the tempo of the game," Dennison said. "Early on it's tempo, it's 'set the pace.'"

The Texans scored on their first series seven times last season with Matt Schaub playing quarterback, and won five of those games. Schaub was lost for the season with a broken foot in Week 10, and Houston scored on its opening possession only two more times the rest of the year, losing both games.

Schaub, receiver Andre Johnson and Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster are all back healthy after playing together only twice all of last season. Houston scored on its first drive in both of those games, including a 23-13 win at Miami in Week 2.

Coaches map out a certain number of plays to run early in each game, and Schaub said all the players have to do is execute them. Houston began last season's 17-10 win over Pittsburgh with a 19-play drive that chewed almost 11 minutes off the clock.

"(It's) just being on top of the script that we have laid out at the beginning of games," he said. "All the guys know what their assignments are, there are certain adjustments to the defensive looks, keep our third downs manageable and then converting those, and then getting in the red zone and being able to score points off that. That really sets the tone for the game, especially when you can have a long nine- or 10-play drive to start the game off, you really set the tempo."

Houston scored eight touchdowns on its nine opening drives last season.

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