Texans keep opposing rushers away from C-Note

Updated: October 1, 2003, 4:33 PM ET
ESPN

HOUSTON -- The Texans have run the gauntlet of elite running backs undaunted, if not unscathed.

Having faced Miami's Ricky Williams, New Orleans' Deuce McAllister, Kansas City's Priest Holmes and Jacksonville's Fred Taylor, the Texans' defense has yet to give up 100 yards to any of them.

"We've given up some yards, but luckily no back has rushed for over 100 yards on us. That's something you always look forward to," inside linebacker Jamie Sharper said. "I'd say the main thing we need to work on is getting more sacks. The (defensive backs) are playing well. They're getting interceptions. I think we need to go ahead and try to get more sacks and try to pressure more."

Indeed, the Texans rank third in interceptions but only six teams have fewer than their five sacks. They were especially disappointed last Sunday when they couldn't get to Byron Leftwich, a rookie starting his first game, even though Houston won 24-20.

And though no rusher has put up 100 yards individually, the team is giving up an average of 111 per game on the ground and Holmes (89 yards) certainly would have reached the mark had he played the second half of that game.

On the flip side, the Texans have had to start three different defensive lines in four games, were without Pro Bowl end Gary Walker for the first two and nose guard Seth Payne -- who was playing like a Pro Bowler -- was lost for the season with a knee injury in the second game at New Orleans.

Capers has been pleased that his defense has overcome injuries to play the run so well, especially against Williams (17 carries, 69 yards) and Taylor (19 carries, 67 yards) in Houston's two victories.

"It's a credit to everyone on defense, and I think (coordinator) Vic Fangio does a good job with everything we do," Capers said. "You lose a player like Seth Payne, you just don't put another Seth Payne in there. But Jerry Deloach moved inside and he did a good job this week, and Gary Walker is now getting healthy and coming back."

The defense was banged up some more against the Jaguars and could be without Pro Bowl cornerback Aaron Glenn for a while as he recovers from a strained groin, making this bye week welcomed by the Texans.

"I feel good about having that victory (over the Jaguars) and being 2-2 going into the bye week," Sharper said. "It gives the guys extra motivation and makes the injuries go away a little bit quicker because you're even and you're coming off a big victory. I think guys are going to get it together and take these four practices during bye week and try to get better."

The Texans relied exclusively on defense to win games last year as the rookie-laden offense couldn't be counted upon. While the defense hasn't played as well so far, the offense has picked up the slack, giving defenders the feeling that this could be a complete, competitive team going forward.

"I feel real good," said Jay Foreman, the other inside linebacker. "Going into the season, a lot of people thought that we were going to be 0-4, maybe 1-3. Anytime you can go into the bye week this early in the season at 2-2, it's real good."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index