Vrabel faces old boss as Texans visit Titans
NASHVILLE — Mike Vrabel knows Houston coach Bill O’Brien pretty well after spending the past four seasons working as a Texans assistant, including as defensive coordinator last season. Now Vrabel has his own team in Tennessee, and today he will square off with his former boss while looking for his first victory as an NFL head coach.
Vrabel hopes his familiarity with the Texans helps in the Titans’ home opener, but he cautioned against seeing that as a major advantage.
“They’ve added some new stuff, and they’re doing new things and they’ve got some new personnel,” Vrabel said. “Hopefully we can get prepared enough to go out and win a game on Sunday.”
Vrabel went winless in the preseason as the Titans focused on trying to get to the regular season healthy. After a 27-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins last Sunday in the opener, the Titans put tight end Delanie Walker on injured reserve, and two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan is recovering from a concussion. Quarterback Marcus Mariota also hurt the elbow on his throwing arm, and backup Blaine Gabbert could be needed even if Mariota starts.
Houston has dominated this AFC South rivalry lately, but the teams split the season series last year, with each winning on its home field. Houston visited Nashville last December with quarterback Deshaun Watson out with a torn ACL, and Mariota left the Titans’ earlier loss in Texas with an injured hamstring.
Watson was back for the Texans’ opener, which Houston lost 27-20 at New England. The Texans are back on the road for a second straight week, and neither team can afford to fall to 0-2, raising the stakes even higher.
“We want to win very badly,” Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan said. “It’s a divisional game. You don’t want to start out 0-1 in the division. You want to get some momentum and go from there.”