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O’Brien can’t keep secret: Mallett to start

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HOUSTON — The Houston Texans switched quarterbacks, going with Ryan Mallett as their new starter, replacing Brian Hoyer, their first-game starter against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Mallett will take over against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Mallett, a 6-foot-6, 245-pound, fifth0year veteran, originally entered the league as the New England Patriots’ third-round draft in 2011.

The Patriots traded him to the Texans in August 2014 for a conditional sixth-round pick. Last November, he was named the starter, replacing Ryan Fitzpatrick, but after one excellent game against the Cleveland Browns, Mallett aggravated a pectoral muscle and was out of the season.

Texans coach Bill O’Brien didn’t publicly announce the change this year, but he told the quarterbacks and the other players.

In the age of social media, there are no secrets, but O’Brien addressed the media Wednesday as if nobody knew of the change.

“It’ll be in the best interest of the team,” O’Brien said. “The quarterback that plays on Sunday — you guys will see who it is the first offensive snap of the game.”

In the opener, Mallett replaced Hoyer and had a touchdown pass and two-point conversion.

Mallett finished 8-for-13 for 98 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. His passer rating was 110.4. Hoyer was 18-for-34 for 236 yards and one touchdown. He threw an interception and lost a fumble. His rating was 72.7.

“You’ve got to prepare as the starter regardless of whether you’re the two or the three,” Mallett said. “You’ve got be ready to play.

“In this league, anything can happen on one play. That’s the role of the backup quarterback. The whole complexion of the game can change on one play, so you’ve got to be prepared.

“I was told right before (by O’Brien), ‘I’m going to go with you to finish the game.’ I warmed up and got ready to go. I felt good. It’s about preparation. I get my confidence from how hard I prepare. I got my feet wet on the speed of the game. If I play Sunday, I’ll feel confident.”

–Days after outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney made a successful, healthy return in the season opener, he learned his workload will increase Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.

O’Brien indicated that Clowney will play more this week after lining up for 30 snaps, primarily as a situational pass rusher and in third-down packages last week.

Clowney had seven tackles as a rookie last season before undergoing microfracture knee surgery in December. He had four tackles, one for a loss, Sunday against Kansas City.

“He’ll definitely play more,” O’Brien said of Clowney, who grew up near Charlotte, N.C., in Rock Hill, S.C., before starring at South Carolina and being drafted first overall by the Texans last year.

“I think he’s still on I would say a bit of a count, but he’ll play more. I thought he did some good things. As we bring him back from the injury, from the surgery, I think he’ll keep getting better and better.”

Clowney said he is getting 30 to 40 tickets for this game against what amounts to his hometown NFL team.

“I feel good,” Clowney said. “I’m ready to go home and play in front of the home crowd. It’s going to be awesome. My whole check’s gone.”

NOTES: Guard Duane Brown (thumb) will be a game-time decision, even if he doesn’t practice all week. … Wide receiver Keshawn Martin was traded to the New England Patriots for undisclosed compensation. … Guard Oday Aboushi was claimed off waivers. He was suspended for the first game of the season while with the New York Jets for violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy. He started 10 games at left guard for the Jets last year but played left tackle in college at Virginia. … Among those players who did not practice Wednesday were left guard Xavier Su’a-Filo (calf, ankle), running back Arian Foster (groin), safety Lonnie Ballentine (arthroscopic knee surgery) and linebacker Mike Mohamed (strained calf, out two to four weeks). Left guard Jeff Adams (abdominal) and wide receiver Nate Washington (abdominal) were limited.


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