“How five important Texans performed in their victory over the Saints”

After going through a significant reconstruction under general manager Nick Caserio, the Texans are now in their debut season under head coach DeMeco Ryans. They had seven new rookies on their roster going into the regular season, and they added a plethora of veterans through trade, free agency, and the waiver wire. After every game, we’ll evaluate the important players each week.

C.J. Stroud, QB
It appears that positive things continue to happen even in the wake of the No. 2 overall pick’s error. On the second drive against the Saints, Stroud threw his first interception of his career; however, Nico Collins forced linebacker Zack Baun to fumble the ball, which guard Tytus Howard recovered at the Texans 41. To make it 7-0, Stroud then found Noah Brown for a 34-yard pass and Dalton Schultz for a 1-yard score. However, Stroud was just 3/10 passing for 58 yards in the second half and completed 13-of-27 passing for 199 yards and a season-low 48.1 completion percentage.

Dennis Allen, the coach of the Saints, and Ryan Nielsen, the former defensive coordinator who now works in Atlanta, have now stumped him twice. Last week, Stroud was only able to complete 57.1% of his passes.

Sheldon Rankins, DT
Against his previous team, the eighth-year veteran grabbed his first sack of the year. In the second half, Rankins—who spent his first five seasons with the Saints—sacks Derek Carr, forcing him to settle for a field goal. Rankins stated he was “chomping at the bit” to eventually achieve his first sack. Coming into the weekend, he had seven quarterback hurries and one hit. Securing it against his old squad added to its “sweeter” flavour. The fact that Rankins and defensive tackle partner Maliek Collins, who shared a half-sack with Jonathan Greenard, are starting to accumulate sacks indicates that the Texans’ pass rush is becoming more robust following their lack of sacks in Atlanta the previous week.

Devin Singletary, a running back, led the Texans on Sunday with 58 yards on 12 runs. Last week, Ryan stated he anticipated Singletary to play a bigger role in the offence. His 4.8 yards per carry made a big difference in an otherwise lacking rushing attack, particularly in the red zone. Dameon Pierce gained just 1 yard on four red-zone carries, while totaling 13 carries for 34 yards (2.6 yards per carry). In addition to catching a 4-yard pass in the red zone, Singletary ran for 16 yards on five red-zone carries. After serving as Buffalo’s starting running back for four seasons, Singletary might see his role grow even more in upcoming contests.

Dalton Schultz, TE
The 2023 season has started slowly for Schultz, but in the last three games, he has now caught three touchdowns. With four catches for 61 yards and a 1-yard touchdown catch from Stroud to put the Texans ahead 7-0 on Sunday, Schultz was Houston’s second-leading receiver. In the first three games of the season, the veteran wide receiver (6-5, 244 pounds) has seven receptions for 47 yards. Schultz now has three touchdowns and 215 yards from 21 catches. Jordan Akins, a former tight end with the Texans, led the position group in 2022 with 37 receptions for 495 yards and five touchdowns.

CBC Nelson Stevens
With 16 seconds remaining in the game, Nelson made the game-winning interception on fourth-and-10. With three interceptions this season, he was tied for the most in the NFL as of Sunday afternoon. In order to match his career-high total in 2018, Nelson—who is in the latter year of his contract with the Texans—needs only one more interception. Against the Saints, the ninth-year veteran recovered from a difficult start. Two plays after dropping a likely pick-six, he was engaged in a 34-yard touchdown throw in the first quarter. In the fourth quarter, Carr threw a 51-yard pass to Rashid Shaheed, who reached over Nelson, who looked to have a chance to intercept the fluttering pass.

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