Respect your opponents. Don't fear them, but respect them.
That's been the Oakland Raiders mantra each week of the 2016 regular season regardless of who or where they're playing, and heading into the team's Monday Night Football bout with the Houston Texans at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, that message remains consistent.
Although the Texans are 6-3 and standing alone atop the AFC South, they've most certainly had their fair share of struggles on the offensive side of the football, in particular throwing the ball.
Through nine games, the Texans rank No. 30 in total offense, and are dead last in passing offense (187.3 yards per game), but although Brock Osweiler and the Texans receivers haven't found a plethora of statistical success thus far, cornerback David Amerson knows that they still present a big challenge to the Raiders secondary.
"I think as a [defensive back] you always have to be expecting pass, because it doesn't take much for a pass to go 80 yards, and then all of a sudden it's a big problem," said Amerson. "You don't have time to be thinking, 'oh, they're going to run the ball here.' Every play you have to play pass, and then react to the run. That's how you kind of have to see things as a [defensive back]."
"You just have to play really sound ball," added defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. "Coverage has to be well. Nothing changes on our part. We have to do the things that we do well; communicate well and tackle well. Get the ball out. Nothing changes for us. We just have to worry about us. What they're going to do, they're going to do."
And one of those things that the Texans are going to do is feed wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The dynamic wideout leads the Texans with 45 receptions and 482 receiving yards, and he is a player that possesses homerun ability, regardless of the game situation.
The fourth-year wide receiver is a Pro Bowler with 22 touchdowns already to his name, and Amerson will be playing close attention to Hopkins' whereabouts come Monday night.
"He's a good route runner,"Amerson said of the Hopkins. "I've been playing against him for a while, and he can get physical with you. He has great hands. He makes the amazing catches and things like. He gets targeted a lot, and he kind of has a basketball swagger, [how] he goes up and gets the ball, with his long arms and things like that. He has, I guess, a good catch radius."
As Amerson eluded, one thing that No. 29 does have playing to his advantage is a familiarity with Hopkins, as the pair has squared off several times already throughout their young careers.
"You just kind of know what to expect," Amerson said. "There's not a lot of, 'oh, I didn't know he had that, or 'oh, I didn't know he could do that.' You kind of know what he's got. You kind of know what you have to take away or have you have to defend this particular person."
WR – Amari Cooper – Back – Limited
C – Rodney Hudson – Knee – Limited
DT – Stacy McGee – Ankle – Limited
RB – Latavius Murray – Ankle – Limited
G/T – Kelechi Osemele – Knee – Limited
CB – Sean Smith – Shoulder – Limited
-For the second day in a row, the Raiders enjoyed full participation in practice, with the same six players from Wednesday still practicing in a limited capacity. Sorry though Raider Nation, still no sighting of defensive end Mario Edwards who remains listed on the Reserve/Injured list.
-Breast Cancer Awareness month might be in the rearview mirror, but Justin "Jelly" Ellis is still representing; the big defensive tackle was seen sporting pink cleats during Thursday's on-field session.
-Marquette King has made quite the name for himself over the past few weeks for his in-game dance moves, but how do you get good at anything? Practice. The KickSquad President spent a few minutes perfecting his craft during the stretching portion of practice while Future's "Tony Montana" played in the background.
While the bye week did come at a good time for the Silver and Black, defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. is certainly happy to get back to work:
"We're excited to get back to playing ball. We had the week off. We got some good coach time. We got some good time to get away from ball a little bit. Now we're really back into the details and the coaching and understanding where we are. At this point in the season, understanding how we got to this point, really want to take the rest , each game, one game at a time and really do the things that we do well consistently."
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