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3 important Texans starters rest in game against Tennessee

Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) is hit by Houston Texans cornerback Bradley Roby (21) as Brown scores a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) is hit by Houston Texans cornerback Bradley Roby (21) as Brown scores a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

HOUSTON – The Houston Texans will more than likely make the safe play Sunday and sit the team’s most important starters, many of whom have been banged up from lingering injuries.

The Texans lineup will look much different against Tennessee than it did two weeks ago when the Texans beat the Titans in Nashville.

Here’s a look at who’s resting and who’s taking their place.

SITTING: QB Deshaun Watson

Why: Watson has been much healthier this season than his first two NFL seasons. His rookie year, Watson tore an ACL after six starts. Last season, Watson had to play through a cracked rib and partially collapsed lung. This year, aside from the eye scratch he suffered against Oakland and various minor nicks and bruises – Watson has been healthy. Unfortunately, one of those bruises comes from last week’s Tampa Bay game where Watson hurt his ankle. Watson has been listed on the injury report with a back injury but resting everything can’t hurt.

STARTING: QB A.J. McCarron

McCarron has played in one game, throwing one pass in the Texans blowout loss to Baltimore. He’s generally pretty experienced among NFL backup quarterbacks, making 3 starts in 2015. The Buffalo Bills signed McCarron to a $10-million contract to compete with Josh Allen before flipping him to the Raiders for a 5th round pick.

SITTING: WR DeAndre Hopkins

Why: Hopkins is arguably the Texans best player and there’s no reason to risk injury when he can do so much damage in the playoffs. Hopkins will finish the year with 104 catches for 1,165 yards and seven touchdowns. He also added a touchdown pass against the Patriots. Hopkins has also battled an illness the past few weeks, missing three practices because of it. This week, Hopkins missed practice Friday – a usual indicator that the player will sit.

STARTING: WR Keke Coutee

Coutee has been in the doghouse for part of the season and has only played in 8 games, starting 4 since the Texans traded for Kenny Stills. With Hopkins and Stills questionable, plus Will Fuller out Coutee should get all the snaps at wide receiver.

SITTING: LT Laremy Tunsil

Why: The Texans starting left tackle has been a big key in keeping Deshaun Watson much cleaner than last season. Watson has been sacked 44 times in 2019 as opposed to 62 in 2018. The Texans traded the house for Tunsil and will do what they can to keep him healthy for the playoff run.

STARTING: OT Elijah Nkansah

The Texans just promoted Nkansah before this game. He has very limited NFL experience, playing 1 offensive snap for the Seahawks in 2018. Nkansah played at Toledo.