The Dolphins are considered huge underdogs in their opener against the Texans on Sunday. Houston, a team which nearly made it to the Super Bowl last season, boasts a group of veteran stars on offense who are looking to make a statement to kick off the year.
“There’s a lot of excitement around town and in this locker room and in this building,” said Texans starting quarterback Matt Schaub in a conference call on Wednesday. “Once camp got going, it was all about the work and the task at hand of getting better to improve our team and get ourselves as good as we can be heading into the regular season.”
Schaub, who is entering his ninth season in the league, threw for 2,479 yards with 15 touchdowns and just six interceptions last year. Although he was ranked the 6th best passer in 2011 based on his quarterback rating (96.8), the 31-year-old Pro Bowler credits his success to several of his talented teammates, whom the Dolphins will have to contend with this weekend.
“We have a lot of weapons, there’s no doubt about that,” Schaub said. “With the offensive line we have in place and Arian Foster behind me, Ben Tate behind me, and with Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, Kevin Walter and the group of young receivers that we have, there’s a ton of talent that we have across the board.”
Texans wide out Andre Johnson is sure to cause problems for Miami’s young secondary, as he did last season when Miami fell to Houston in Week 2. It was Johnson’s 23-yard touchdown grab in the fourth quarter which helped the Texans pull away en route to their 23-13 victory.
Johnson may be limited though, as Houston coach Gary Kubiak is looking to take precautionary measures since the 4-time All Pro has been nursing sore ribs since August 27th.
“You’re going to have little things which nag an aggravate you,” Schaub said referring to Johnson. “It’s just a matter of working through it and playing through it and Dre’s used to that.” “It’s nothing that’s going to hamper him.”
Houston is stacked on defense as well. Most of their starters from last season are back, and considering they ranked 2nd in total defense, behind only the Steelers, Miami’s young offense must have a breakout game if they hope to come away with the win.
In addition to having the edge on both sides of the ball, the Texans certainly have the home-field advantage. They lost just two regular-season games in Reliant Stadium last season, and both of those defeats came without Schaub, as he missed the latter part of the year after breaking his right foot in Week 10.
The Houston Texans play host to the Dolphins on Sunday at 1 p.m. eastern.
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Jeremiah Thermidor is a freelance writer covering all things Miami Dolphins. His work can be found on Examiner.com.