Texans experience attrition at tight end
HOUSTON -- Houston Texans starting tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz was placed on injured reserve Tuesday in the wake of suffering a pair of concussions during the past few weeks.
The concern with Fiedorowicz surrounded how he sustained two concussions during a short span of time with his latest happening during a 29-7 loss Sunday to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Under NFL rules governing injured reserve, Fiedorowicz can be designated to return. He's eligible to return to practice in six weeks and can play again after spending eight weeks on injured reserve.
Fiedorowicz had a concussion in the preseason, but passed the mandatory baseline neurological exam before being cleared to play in the season opener.
Fiedorowicz recently signed a three-year, $21.5 million contract extension that included $10 million guaranteed.
With Fiedorowicz out along with tight ends Ryan Griffin and Stephen Anderson with concussions, the Texans are expected to promote rookie tight end Evan Baylis from the practice squad. Baylis is a 6-foot-6, 255-pound undrafted free agent from Oregon.
"He did some good things," Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said. "He's a smart kid, caught the ball well, worked very hard. He's a little bit light, but he blocked OK for what we asked him to do. So, I think he's a promising young guy."
The Texans can also utilize offensive linemen as blocking tight ends, as they've done in the past.
"Absolutely, there's plenty of guys that can play the role of a blocker close to the ball," O'Brien said. "Meaning, like in a tight-end area. There's plenty of guys that can do that."
--Texans starting right guard Jeff Allen will miss the game against the Bengals due to an ankle injury. Allen could miss as many as a few games due to the severity of the injury sustained Sunday, according to sources not authorized to speak publicly.
With Allen sidelined, the Texans will start Greg Mancz at guard opposite Xavier Su'a-Filo.
Mancz is a gritty former undrafted free agent from Toledo who performed capably last season as an 18-game starter at center when Nick Martin was ruled out for the year with an ankle injury. Mancz replaced Su'a-Filo at left guard Sunday, and moved to right guard when Allen got hurt.
"He's a very bright guy," Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said of Mancz. "He can play all three inside spots. He's a really tough guy. He's come back from a lot of different injuries. He's played through injuries. There's a lot that I like about Greg."
--Standing inside the Texans' locker room, wide receiver Jaelen Strong was gratified to be back in his routine. Strong served a one-game suspension last week, a punishment stemming from a violation of the NFL substance-abuse policy.
"I'm just happy to be back, glad to be back with my teammates," said Strong, whose suspension cost him a $40,294 game check from his $685,000 base salary. "It was a long week, but I'm glad to be back and glad to be back at work."
The Texans need a boost at wide receiver. DeAndre Hopkins was the only Texans wide receiver to catch a pass Sunday.
Strong remained in Houston during his suspension, working out with local trainer Leo Johnson.
"It was hard not being here the whole week, but that's in the past," Strong said. "It's time to move forward and go to work with my guys."
--D'Onta Foreman isn't accustomed to watching and waiting for his turn. The Texans' rookie running back did plenty of that, though, in his first NFL game Sunday. Foreman was limited to one carry for four yards.
Now, Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said Foreman will have an increased workload going forward.
"In college, I was the guy and was able to carry the ball a lot of the time," Foreman said. "I feel like I'm a good player. I feel like I can contribute and help the team out. Whatever they ask me to do, I'm ready to do it. It's a great feeling."
A Doak Walker award winner and third-round draft pick from Texas, Foreman led the nation with 2,028 rushing yards last season. The Texas City native averaged 184.4 yards per contest before declaring early for the draft.
Foreman said he's 100 percent now after dealing with a groin injury during the preseason.
"I'm always ready," Foreman said. "Whatever they need me to do."
--Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt can take comfort in some small things after an ugly loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars to open the season. For instance, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year's dislocated finger remains intact along with his sense of humor.
"Better, it's inside my body," Watt said. "That's all that matters. It's still attached."
Watt was limited to one tackle and one quarterback pressure in his first game back since undergoing a pair of back surgeries last season. Watt can't wait for the Texans' next game Thursday night at Paul Brown Stadium.
"We're looking forward to going out there and playing a game," Watt said. "You just want to get back out there and put a good performance together so you can get this taste out of your mouth."
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