Walker has unique viewpoint on Texans-Titans rivalry

Updated: October 10, 2003, 10:09 AM ET
ESPN

HOUSTON -- Gary Walker is versed in the budding Houston-Tennessee rivalry, as well he should be. He is the only player to have toiled for the Houston Oilers, the Tennessee Oilers and the Houston Texans, his current team.

The Houston Oilers drafted him in 1995 as owner Bud Adams and city officials were fighting over his proposal for a new, publicly financed stadium. The city balked and Adams walked after the 1996 season, taking Walker and the rest of the Oilers first to Memphis, then to Nashville.

Walker had moved on to the Jacksonville Jaguars by 1999, when the Oilers became the Titans. Then the Texans plucked him from the Jaguars in the expansion draft last season and he went to his second straight Pro Bowl last season, though this could be his final year in Houston unless he and the team can negotiate a cap-friendlier contract.

"You just always want to do good against your former team," Walker said of the Texans' trip to Nashville on Sunday. "There's still a little something there. When you know people on the other team for four years, you always expect to play well against them. I'm looking forward to it."

CUTTING CORNERS: David Carr isn't about to get cocky as the Texans prepare for a Titans team lacking star cornerback Samari Rolle. He saw what can happen when a third-stringer steps up.

"The Jaguars tried to do that to us when Aaron (Glenn) went out and Kenny (Wright) played pretty well," Carr said, referring to Wright's two interceptions after Glenn was sidelined with a groin injury in Houston's 24-20 victory on Sept. 28.

"You can't underestimate a professional athlete. Whoever they put in there is going to play well. We just have to play like we regularly play and not worry about who's out and who's not out."

And besides, the Texans head to Nashville with the exact same problem. Glenn, a Pro Bowler last year, is not expected to suit up Sunday and Wright likely will make his first start of the season against a Titans passing offense that caught fire last weekend in a 38-30 loss to New England.

FISHER'S VIEW: The last NFL head coach in Houston before Dom Capers was Jeff Fisher, the final coach in Houston Oilers history and the only one in Tennessee's brief time in the league.

Fisher now looks upon Houston as an AFC South rival and, to listen to him speak, a potentially dangerous one at that.

"I've been very impressed with what they've done," said Fisher, whose Titans swept the Texans last season by scores of 17-10 and 13-3. "I see a different football team on the field this year than we did last year.

"The way they're playing this year is very impressive. They've done a great job at the receiver position. Their group of receivers rates with the best in the NFL in my opinion. Protection-wise, they're protecting the quarterback and they're running the football. They're running for 104 yards a game right now so this is a much-improved team and they're very well-coached. They're going to be in it."

Fisher is among a growing number of Andre Johnson fans around the NFL. While he wouldn't say how the Titans will deal with Johnson without Rolle, he said missing his top cornerback might not matter much against a big, fast target like the Texans' rookie.

"When you have players get hurt, younger players or backups have to step up and play, regardless," Fisher said. "Andre is a very, very good receiver very early in his career. He's shown it in just four games. I don't know who's going to line up on him when and I don't necessarily know how it's all going to turn out. Whoever has to step up is going to have to make plays.

"Even with Samari it would be hard to shut down a quality receiver like Andre."

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