Injuries take toll on Texans' offensive lineBrown shelved with bad thumb; OT Adams leaves after hurting kneeBy Aaron Wilson National Football PostSeptember 20, 2015Texans tackle Duane Brown, center, stands on the sidelines Sunday during the first quarter. With Brown out, the Texans had to mix and match the offensive line.CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Duane Brown shook his head in frustration, frowning on the sideline as an aggressive Carolina Panthers defense rendered the Texans' offense a one-dimensional outfit.The reaction was understandable considering how the state of the winless Texans' injury-riddled offensive line and a beleaguered running game are approaching a crisis situation.During the Texans' 24-17 defeat Sunday at Bank of America Stadium, starting right offensive tackle Jeff Adams was carted off the field with an injury serious enough that his right knee was immediately immobilized. The team was concerned his season might be over.And with the line playing without Brown due to a right thumb injury that might keep him out again next week against Tampa Bay, the Texans' running game was stonewalled at every turn.The rushing offense reached another low point as it was unable to gain traction against the Panthers. Carolina was playing without injured star middle linebacker Luke Kuechly due to a concussion and standout defensive tackle Star Lotulelei because of a foot injury, but it didn't matter.Brown saw an offense crying out for increased rushing production and attempts to keep the Panthers' aggressive defense honest.Running game suffers"We have to get our running game going," Brown said. "We became one-dimensional against a defense like that. It's tough to put that much pressure on the receiving corps and the quarterback. I thought we did a decent job in pass protection, but we have to be able to run the ball and be a balanced offense to make them respect it more."The Texans ran the football a dozen times on first down Sunday but gained just 29 yards on those plays. Thirteen of those yards came on a run by backup Chris Polk, who led the Texans with 38 yards on 14 carries. Several times, the backs were hit just after the handoff."Sometimes, we're getting hit as soon as they got the ball," running back Jonathan Grimes said. "There's things we can correct."Grimes caught six passes for 40 yards but rushed twice for 7 yards, while starter Alfred Blue rushed for only 6 yards on five carries, averaging 1.2 yards per run."They stacked the box," Blue said. "Kuechly was out, but it was still tough out there. Their linebackers come downhill and take their shots. They were the better team."The Panthers shifted before the snap to hide their intentions to make it difficult to get a read on how many defenders were lining up in the tackle box."They disguised well," center Ben Jones said. "They could be bringing five or six one time or dropping everybody. You've got to tip your hat to them. They played a great game."The Texans (0-2) have rushed for just 161 yards on 44 carries through two games, becoming a pass-first offensive without Foster. They've thrown the football 105 times.Credit where it's due"They just played a better game than us," Blue said. "We've got to clean it up in practice. We've got to get better altogether on offense."Despite former Denver Broncos lineman Chris Clark replacing Brown at left tackle and undrafted rookie Kendall Lamm stepping in Sunday for an injured Adams, the Texans allowed just one sack. Quarterback Ryan Mallett was hit four times."We have had some injuries there," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "I thought all the guys protected for the most part pretty well. I think that if the quarterback got hit, it might have been because of coverage. I think that the offensive line played tough."We've got versatile guys. We've got another injury with Jeff Adams, and he will probably be out for a while, but we just take the approach that it's the next man up."Welcome to NFLLamm wasn't overwhelmed during his emergency stint but was beaten around the edge by defensive lineman Kawann Short on a speed rush on third down in the final minute. Short pressured Mallett into an intentional-grounding penalty that cost the Texans a timeout and a critical down."I tried to hold my own," Lamm said. "We'll dissect the film, but I felt pretty good. I tried to become comfortable and remember what coach (Mike) Devlin told me."Right guard Brandon Brooks was blunt about the regression on offense."We've got to get it together and get it together quick," he said. "It's a real shame for Jeff Adams, a great guy who'd earned a starting spot and worked his butt off. We'll get it together. We'll be all right."
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