Texans-Colts: Matchups to Watch

Can the Colts contain Houston's DE Mario Williams? Can the Texans' secondary keep Peyton Manning under control? Is Dallas Clark set for another big game against Houston? Get all the key matchups and strategy for Sunday's early-season showdown here!

Colts LT vs. Texans DRE Mario Williams: It's a tossup right now as to who will start at left offensive tackle for Indianapolis. Last year's starter, Charlie Johnson, has been sidelined with a foot injury during training camp and the preseason. His replacement, Tony Ugoh, was waived on Wednesday after suffering a toe injury. Undrafted rookie Jeff Linkenbach may end up getting the nod.

Texans CBs Glover Quin/Kareem Jackson vs. Colts QB Peyton Manning: Manning loves to take advantage of inexperienced defensive backs. Quin is in his second year while Jackson is a rookie. Indianapolis is deep at the receiver position this season, so the Colts quarterback will most likely test the Texans cornerbacks early and often.

Texans WR Andre Johnson vs. Colts CBs Jerraud Powers/Kelvin Hayden: Johnson had a combined 10 catches for 170 yards in two games against Indianapolis last year. The key is keeping him out of the end zone once again. He did not score in either game a year ago.

Texans LT Duane Brown vs. Colts RDE Dwight Freeney: This is the third season they've gone against each other. Brown says he has a harder time at Lucas Oil Stadium because he can't hear the snap count as well, and Freeney comes flying off the ball. Brown is quick for his size, but once Freeney gets into him, he plays such good technique that he can get inside him or outside him.

Texans SS Bernard Pollard vs. Colts TE Dallas Clark: Clark burned the Texans for 14 catches in one game. They had outside linebacker Brian Cushing trying to cover him. No way. They should put Pollard or an extra corner on him. Pollard likes to play around the line of scrimmage, but he's physical and he runs pretty well.

Texans CB Kareem Jackson vs. WR Reggie Wayne: Jackson is a rookie, a first-round pick, and he knows Peyton Manning will come after him with all of his receivers at one time or another. It makes sense to put a veteran like Wayne on an inexperienced corner like Jackson. Wayne has made a lot of big plays against the Texans through the years.

COLTS GAME PLAN: Protect the quarterback. Try to run the football. Put pressure on the Texans' offense.

The Colts have had their share of injuries to starters on the offensive line, so the first goal of the day will be to give the quarterback enough time to work his magic downfield.

Indianapolis' running game doesn't have to dominate Sunday, but a consistent run game will help set up the Colts' passing attack.

Defensively, Indianapolis has had success in the past at forcing key turnovers against the Texans. Putting pressure on the Houston quarterback and keeping him contained will be crucial. Also, the Colts must slow down the Texans' rushing attack.

TEXANS GAME PLAN: The Texans would like to use the running game and the short passing game to control the ball and keep Peyton Manning and the rest of the Colts' offense on the bench. Even though they have an explosive offense, they don't want to get into a shootout with the Colts.


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