Texans vs. 49ers: Houston needs Duane Brown back in starting lineup


Dec 11, 2011; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Houston Texans offensive tackle Duane Brown (76) leads a block for quarterback T.J. Yates (13) during the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Texans defeated the Bengals 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s hope for the Houston Texans’ sake, and for the sake of quarterback Matt Schaub, that left tackle Duane Brown is able to return to the starting lineup this week when the Texans travel to face the San Francisco 49ers.

Whenever a team loses their starting left tackle, especially a tackle with the talent of Brown, who has missed time with a turf toe injury, the offensive line will suffer in some way shape or form.

I’m not knocking Ryan Harris’ play in the backup roll, because it has improved some over the past couple starts, but Brown is a Pro Bowl and All-Pro caliber tackle for a reason.

Head coach Gary Kubiak spoke about the loss of Brown and the play of Harris and how it has affected the play of Schaub lately.

“We’re playing without out left tackle. That’s part of this game. Something we have to work through,” he said. “Ryan (Harris) went in there and took a big step forward and played well.

“He’s (Schaub) been getting hit too much. He’s been down too much. He’s been down 11 times if I think I’m right in four games. I think last year, we might be three or four at this point. Hopefully, we can improve upon that. It all goes together. Everything goes together.”

I know the offensive line blocked for 100-plus yards rushing last week, but not having Brown in the lineup has really affected the pass blocking of the Texans.

The Texans need Brown to return, as I believe his return is one of the few keys that will not only help them return to the win column, but take a lot of pressure off Schaub. His return could possibly turn around the season.

Am I wrong in thinking the Texans needs Brown on the field for them to have success? Remember, the Texans are 2-0 with Brown in the lineup and 0-2 without him.

Brown did return to practice Wednesday, so that’s a positive sign in his game return, and what better place to make a return than Sunday Night Football on NBC against the defending NFC champions?

Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison also spoke about Brown practicing.

“Oh it’s great,” he said. “He did a little bit last week and we’re hoping he can go out there and play. He looked good today with the tempo we had today. He looked good.”

This is currently Brown’s six season in the NFL as he was drafted out of Virginia Tech. He’s started 78 career games.