HomeFootball DirtLevis and the Titans Look to Extend Winning Streak against the Texans

Levis and the Titans Look to Extend Winning Streak against the Texans

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans love rookie quarterback Will Levis’ energy, enthusiasm and competitiveness.

Just not when he takes off running.

The 6-foot-4, 229-pound Levis crashed into Miami cornerback Jalen Ramsey after escaping a sack, making the 6-1 three-time All-Pro look like an economy car hit by an SUV. The Titans (5-8) have shown Levis videos of quarterbacks sliding in an effort to show how NFL rules can protect him.

“I guess we’ll have to show him examples of quarterbacks not sliding and getting the (crap) knocked out of them,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said.

If Levis needs a reminder that being available matters most in the NFL, Sunday offers just that. Fellow rookie C.J. Stroud is in the concussion protocol for Houston (7-6) after his head bounced off the turf while being sacked in last week’s 30-6 road loss to the New York Jets.

First-year Houston coach DeMeco Ryans said not many players return a week later from a concussion. That likely applies to Stroud, who’s currently second in the NFL with 3,631 yards passing and is the biggest reason Houston is a game back of defending AFC South champ Jacksonville in the division.

“It’s more about their long-term health, as opposed to, just everybody gets excited about the next game and the next opportunity,” Ryans said.

That means Davis Mills likely makes his first start this season, and he has played well in three career starts against Tennessee, posting a 93.3 passer rating.

Levis just had the first 300-yard passing game of his career and is 3-4 as a starter. He led the Titans to 15 points Monday night in the span of 51 seconds to stun Miami 28-27. His first road win snapped the Titans’ nine-game road skid and gives them a chance at consecutive wins for the first time this season.

The rookie celebrated by chest-bumping a teammate followed by hugging offensive coordinator Tim Kelly.

“He’s got those crazy eyes, you know, when he starts hulking out,” Kelly said of Levis. “But I was proud of him, and it was a cool moment for him.”

Levis knows being calm, cool and collected is important at his position, but he has to be himself.

“Show those emotions and wear your heart on your sleeve sometimes,” Levis said.

HENRY’S RUN

Two-time NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry has run for at least 126 yards in his past five games against Houston, topping 211 in the other four. He is averaging 115 yards in his 12 games against the Texans. This season, he’s third in the NFL with 875 yards and has run for two TDs in three straight games.

Henry also joined LaDainian Tomlinson (eight) and Adrian Peterson (seven) as the only NFL players to post at least six consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 yards from scrimmage and 10 rushing TDs.

JUST KICKIN’ IT

Houston kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn is expected to return Sunday after missing five games with a quadriceps injury. Matt Ammendola, who has filled in since Fairbairn was injured, was released Wednesday.

The kicker in his seventh season with the Texans has made 18 of 19 field goals this year and all 14 extra points. He isn’t worried about rust in his return.

“Just doing mental reps is the biggest thing,” Fairbairn said. “Feeling that pressure of a game kick, you can really only replicate that on game day.”

HEY, OLD FRIEND

This is the second time the Texans have faced their former star receiver DeAndre Hopkins since trading him away after the 2019 season. He had seven receptions for 53 yards for Arizona in a win over Houston in 2021. Drafted 27th overall in 2013, he is Houston’s second-leading receiver with 8,602 yards and 54 TDs.

Hopkins leads Tennessee with 57 catches for 898 yards and six TDs.

“A friendly target for a young quarterback to throw to,” Ryans said. “Hopkins has made a ton of plays for them. You see the speed down the field, you see the catch radius. He’s having a great year.”

Houston’s receiving corps is banged-up. Rookie Tank Dell is on injured reserve. Nico Collins, who has a team-high 1,004 yards receiving, has an injured calf. Robert Woods, who led Tennessee with 527 yards receiving last season, is Houston’s third-leading receiver.

SALTY RIVALRY

The Titans, who started as the Houston Oilers in 1960 in the AFL, will be wearing their throwback uniforms with the oil derrick logo for the second time this season. They wore them Oct. 29 in a win over Atlanta.

Now the Titans will wear them again against the franchise that got the new stadium the late Bud Adams couldn’t get built in Houston. That’s what prompted him to move his Oilers to Tennessee in 1997.

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AP Sports Writer Kristie Rieken contributed to this report.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL

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