The Houston Texans have an identity in 2016.
They'll take advantage of their opportunities on offense, but will rely heavily on their defense – a defense that heading into Monday night's game at Estadio Azteca is ranked No. 4 in the NFL.
Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel's group has thrived in defending the pass – they're allowing just 195.2 yards per game through the air – but the big fellas along the defensive front also know how to make life difficult for the opposition, as they've tallied 19 total sacks at this point in the regular season.
And while their talented, third-year defensive end Jadeveon Clowney garners a lot of headlines, tackle Austin Howard knows that the Silver and Black have to be aware of everyone the Texans will implore to get after quarterback Derek Carr.
"We've been preparing for the entire group," Howard said Saturday. "We haven't focused on one individual specifically. We're preparing for the entire defensive front. They have a lot of good athletes out there. Their guys prepare with passion, and we have to be prepared to carry what we've been doing through the practice into the game."
While Clowney hasn't enjoyed a ton of statistical success in the early goings of his career, the former South Carolina Gamecock certainly has the ability to make a defensive imprint on the game, and is one of the more talented young pass rushers in the NFL.
However, going up against supremely-talented rushers is nothing new for Howard and the rest of the offensive line, as they square off against Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin and the rest of the Raiders defensive front every day in practice.
"We have a great group of defensive linemen on this team, whether it's Khalil [Mack] or Bruce [Irvin],"
Howard explained. "We have a great group of secondary guys too. Obviously on top of that, [offensive line] Coach [Mike] Tice, [offensive coordinator] Coach [Bill] Musgrave, put us on the correct path in order for us to have success on Sundays, so we stay within our preparation from the week, and hopefully carry it through it Sunday."
Howard and the rest of the Raiders offensive line will get their chance to match up against Clowney and the Texans Monday Night in Mexico City, and while Head Coach Jack Del Rio has said time and again this week that the team is approaching the game just like any other, No. 77 is looking forward to the experience of playing a game abroad.
"It's a good experience," Howard said of playing at Estadio Azteca. "We're excited to see Mexico and [to] be able to play in front of those fans. It's a soccer stadium – it's a huge soccer stadium, and we know how lively, and awesome, and exciting those game get, so we're absolutely excited to be a part of that. We're hoping to come away with a win."
The Raiders will fly to Mexico City Sunday afternoon, and kickoff against the Texans is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. PT.
WR – Amari Cooper – Back – Limited – Questionable
C – Rodney Hudson – Knee – Limited – Questionable
DT – Stacy McGee – Ankle – Limited – Questionable
RB – Latavius Murray – Ankle – Limited – Questionable
G/T – Kelechi Osemele – Knee – Limited – Questionable
CB – Sean Smith – Shoulder – Limited – Questionable
-A little rough weather didn't stop the Silver and Black from getting their work in Saturday afternoon. Although it was raining and windy for parts of Saturday's practice, the team was still able to get through the on-field portion of practice in what equated to a Fast Saturday.
-Mario Edwards Jr. Watch 2016 continued Saturday, but alas, No. 97 remained off the practice field yet again.
-The Raiders injury report has remained consistent all week, and the six players that were listed Thursday and Friday, were all deemed questionable for the Monday night tilt following Saturday's practice.
As we mentioned earlier, the weather wasn't ideal Saturday at the team's Alameda, Calif., facility, but Head Coach Del Rio doesn't mind getting in some work when the weather is nasty:
"I love to work in conditions. You never know when a storm might blow in. You end up playing in the wind or rain or whatever. Now we don't get much snow around here, so we'll have to work on that one live on the spot if we get some of those games later in the year."
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