The Texans had six players leave the game and not return -- tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz (concussion), cornerback Johnathan Joseph (shoulder), wide receiver Bruce Ellington (hamstring), wide receiver Braxton Miller (concussion), running back Alfred Blue (concussion) and inside linebacker Jelani Jenkins (concussion) -- and head coach Bill O’Brien called the game “one of the tougher days” he has had trying to piece together a team because of all the injuries.
One of O’Brien’s adjustments was moving running back Andre Ellington, whom the Texans signed less than two weeks ago and who spent all week in practice in the backfield, to slot receiver. On every play, quarterback Tom Savage had to guide Ellington through what to do, telling him where to line up and trying to teach him the blocking schemes.
“It was just a weird game,” Savage said. “I’ve never been a part of something like that with that many guys out. Those guys really stepped up and did a great job for us.”
While Sunday was an extreme example, the long injury report is nothing new for the Texans this season. Houston has lost at least five key players to season-ending injuries: quarterback Deshaun Watson (torn ACL), defensive end J.J. Watt (broken leg), outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus (torn pectoral muscle), tight end Ryan Griffin (concussion) and running back D’Onta Foreman (torn Achilles). Fiedorowicz also missed eight games with a concussion.
On Sunday, the Texans once again came close to a victory, but Savage and the offense had a hard time overcoming those injuries. Not only did Ellington have to play in the slot, Chris Thompson ended the game as the Texans' No. 2 receiver. Prior to the game, Thompson had just one target all season. But despite the pile of injuries, Savage would not allow that challenge to be an excuse for another Texans loss.
“It’s one of those things -- no one really cares,” Savage said. “You can tell everybody in the world that we had injuries -- no one cares. We have an L on that game and that’s all that matters. We have to find a way to win.”